The absence of sound at four a.m. is total, apart from Willow purring in my ear, and then climbing on my chest to do some ‘cpr’. Four kilos on my chest that early is a bit much, so I roll over and she rolls off. She stands up and I ‘tip’ her again, so she knows I’m playing. We continue our game until I do my stretches and get up and dressed.
She follows me into the bathroom. I’m almost out of toothpaste, so I mentally prepare a list for a trip to ‘Bunnies’ grocery store later. While I’m washing my face, I do a mental ‘body scan’, inside and out, to see what I need. Its three hours until sunrise and three and a half ’til Bunnies opens, so I have time.
Its been a few days since I took my supplements, so in the kitchenette I lay them out. I’m down to my last two calcium tablets, although I doubt Bunnies will stock that kind of thing.
While the kettle’s on, I wash Willows bowl with hot water, dry it with kitchen towel and put it back down again. Rummaging around I find her food and top up the bowl. At this point, I realise I might catch the shipping forecast again so I reach over and tune in. I’m early actually,
‘You’re up before the shipping forecast, Sam. Toothpaste. Calcium. Kitchen Roll.’
There’s so little I need, I wonder whether I need to do that today. The tidal reports show high tide at six fourteen this morning; a dry, bright and chilly day with a slight breeze. I slip into my trainers and grab my fluorescent waterproof. In the drawer I dig out a little clip light and a torch and then make some coffee in a travel mug and stuff it into an empty backpack.
After giving it some thought, I decide to walk right this morning, in the opposite direction of the shop. If I walk to bunnies via the beach I’m not sure I could find the tiny beach path through the houses to the village. With a healthy respect for the tide, its safer to road walk – especially since sunrise isn’t until seven forty.
At the bottom of the beach steps which I carefully navigate with a torch, I hang a right. This is really my first beach walk in the dark. The sand is dry but packed so it’s very easy to walk on. I point my torch just in front of my feet and start a slow easy walk.
I can hear the water, so that’s comforting to me. There’s really nothing frightening about walking in the dark, and I really only have a torch because the tide often washes up the biggest chunks of driftwood you might ever see – sometimes whole trees. People often collect it, for crafts and such. After a few minutes of staring into my torchlight it feels like I’m in a bubble, navigating my way around obstacles like giant clumps of seaweed and wood.
The only thing I can concentrate on is the light in front of me and the sound of the distant tide. I’m taken back to my teens, where I’d walk home from the pub, in the pitch dark, on my own. I lived near the coast back then, too. I’d literally take off my heels and march, barefoot, chanting in my head, ‘Left, Left, Left, Right, Left.’ as I navigated the shortcut along the sea wall before hanging a left at a caravan park, cutting through a vacation village and down a dirt track to my house. There was an old dis-used hay barn about fifty meters from my house – with a great, gaping, dark opening which I always sprinted past. If you’ve ever heard a barn owl screech at three a.m. I suspect you’d sprint, too.
After walking for about twenty minutes I’m at the cobbled stone ramp of the beach café so I make my way up. At the benches I slide into a seat and get my coffee out. It’s still pitch-dark and nothing is stirring. I hear a sheep bleating on the hill, then another. Perhaps they’ve spotted my light.
The beach road is lit for most of the mile or so walk into the village, so I sit with my thoughts and the sheep for a bit, and contemplate my pre-sunrise toothpaste-trek.