Snow and clear skies – how could we resist the draw of spending dawn with the Little Asby Hawthorn? We wrapped up warm, and started in darkness. Rob settled in with his camera and I wrote. Here are the images and the notes we made while we were there …


The Little Asby Hawthorn before Dawn

the moon is half, a glowing semi-circle / it has shed itself onto the land / all these rocks white-coated / Howgills smoothed to alabaster / grouse on the morning air / gold in the east

snow on tufted grass makes fat fingers of each slender stem / unmoving in the barely breath of wind / grouse calls rise like hollow pebbles

I had forgotten this dawn symphony / birdcalls thrown into the crisp air / light like a song / ice in my nostrils / the last of the planets hovering before the sun hides it for another day / my toes chilling in my boots

and this lone tree standing as if frozen mid-wind-blast / twisted branches flung northwards

Little Asby Hawthorn as winter approaches

after the gold there is a gentle white / a hint of pewter

before the sun shows itself / the stillness seems stiller / it is the space between breaths / the lost space between dreaming and waking / what felt so vibrant and real mists over / is hard to grasp

day takes over night / the grouse announce it

there are fresh fox prints in the snow / a quick step of pads tracing the limestone edge / my mind fills in the gaps / I have seen a vixen here before / emerging from the limestone grikes and flowing away / amber against sky / and now I imagine it / long and low / the white of its underside a reflection of snow / moonlight all around

// my fingers are losing sensation // the raw bite of freeze / not quite pain but very nearly – or the pain is overridden by my determination to write / because I know that if I do not do it now, well, I do not do it now / and there is only now / retrospect musings will be filtered and night’s darkness and the glow of early dawn will remain as images only / lacking the undertones and overtones of this place

Starlings! A sudden wave of scattered black! Hundreds of tiny birds / weightless moments / I hold my breath / the sky has turned to white and pink / dawn pushes the night into retreat

Little Asby Hawthorn dawn and moon
the Little Asby Hawthorn with the half moon above

0822 and now the light is coming / the sky has become a dance / one twisted cloud suspended above a band of pink and gold / another cloud layered pink / and drifting

the sun has peaked over the horizon now / its glare is a pierce / a fire / a game changer / I know my hands can warm up now / and the white land reflects the glow

sun rising in the east and the Little Asby Hawthorn

the morning has been one of crystals as well / in the limestone there are dips and hollows where water has turned to ice / ice ruffled by breeze and blackened / each boulder like a split geode

and weighted with hoar frost / grass turns to glass / sparkles

ice crystals in grass Little Asby Common

I was wrong about my fingers / still freezing / and painful / but the morning is here and the light is phenomenal / the land golded / it is almost unreal / we are both mesmerised / the limestone wall is burnished / the snow over grass a work of art / we are lifted by the play of light and shade

the Little Asby Hawthorn at dawn in December

and the tree above it all / warming and defining itself / the grouse still groggling their watery call / and all else / silent

this is why it’s worth it
worth an early start / worth the cold
fingers / threshold
moments / pass quickly

the magic


Rob making an image with his Linhof panoramic film camera at the Little Asby Hawthorn
Rob making an image with his Linhof panoramic film camera

On this day last year, when we took down hundreds of leaves of dedication, the weather was wet and stormy – the blog about the installation is here: From the Heart.

2 thoughts on “Winter dawn at the Little Asby Hawthorn

  1. Beautiful photos and poem. Would we be able to put the photos on our facebook and link through to the poem? Attributing them to you and the Long View of course…

    Happy Christmas both!

    Sophie x


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.