Rhythm and Moonshine - by Rosalie Warren

Sunrise, North Bay, Scarborough, Summer 2015

For me, March 1st is the first day of Spring. When we lived in Edinburgh, that was the day the sun first used to graze the edge of our kitchen cupboards before setting. Next day, the thin band of golden light would be a little wider, next day wider still, reassuring us that summer was on the way (always assuming, of course, that there were no clouds – but I don’t remember a single year of not seeing the sun fall on our cupboards on that date).

Where I live now, we don’t have sunshine-on-the-cupboard day, though we do have something I like to call sunshine-up-the-plughole day, in spite of my other half’s assuring me that the sun is not really shining up the plughole. It certainly looks as though it is, which is what matters to me. It’s not on Mar 1st either – it’s sometime in April and again in August – so it doesn’t signify Spring in the same way but it’s better than nothing.

In Scarborough, on the Yorkshire coast, where I spend quite a lot of time, it’s the sunrise I can see from my living room window, for much of the summertime. In early March, it’s just visible over some buildings if I lean out of my window a little, making its appearance at around 6:50 a.m. I got up early this morning especially to photograph it for you but it didn’t come out well, partly because I was leaning out of my window, which on the fourth floor may not be a good idea. As the year progresses, the sun creeps round, until in April it peers through the windows of the ruined castle high on the cliff. By the summer solstice it rises clear out of the sea and I have even been known to get up at ridiculous-o’clock to see this happen (for proof, see the photo above, which I apparently took at 04:26).

These days, because of time spent watching the sea, I’ve also become fascinated by the phases of the moon and its interaction with the tides. I keep thinking I’ve got it straight in my mind how it all works, then it turns out I haven’t – but at least I understand the difference now between a spring tide and a neap tide. (For those who don’t know, a spring tide has nothing to do with the season. It occurs twice a month, when the sun and the moon line up to produce high tides and low tides that are more ‘extreme’ than usual. This happens at full moon and new moon – though there is a delay of a couple of days which I think is something to do with the surging mass of water catching up. Neap tides happen when the moon is half full, either waxing or waning. The moon and the sun are pulling at right angles to each other at these times so the combined effect is less strong and the tides are not so high or so low.)

You either love this stuff or you don’t (apologies, if you don’t). For most of my life I was pretty much oblivious to the moon, apart from occasionally admiring its silvery radiance. I certainly didn’t care whether or when it was new, waxing, waning or full. Nowadays – and I hesitate to say this because you will think I am mad, if you didn’t already – I look forward to the full moon. I feel sad (a little bit) when the moon is new, and something in me rejoices (a little bit) when the new crescent moon appears in the sky. I get gradually happier as the moon approaches full, and when it’s full – well, I wouldn’t say it feels me with great joy but actually, yes, to be honest, it does. As it wanes, I have a wistful, autumnal feeling… and the cycle starts again.

Full moon over the North Sea

I am also at my most creative when the moon is full. Perhaps there is something in the old myths after all. If creating characters and stories equals lunacy (and I suspect it does), then there you are. One theory I have is that I’ve started to use the lunar cycle as a substitute for my menstrual cycle, which has not been with me for some time now. You get used to living your life according to a monthly rhythm (OK, if you are a man, you don’t, except that if you have a female partner you can enjoy it vicariously, if ‘enjoy’ is the word). When your menses pause, you kind of miss them, though of course it can be a relief, too. It makes sense to adopt the moon as a substitute – the cycles are so similar, after all. It’s great to have periods without the pain. My surge of creativity used to happen mid-month, now it happens at full moon – a fair exchange. Yes, of course it may all be self-fulfilling, but who cares? It gives much-needed structure to my post-menopausal, post-school-termal and self-employed life.

If I’m in Scarborough for full moon, I sometimes see it rise from the sea (in roughly the same place the sun rises from the sea at the summer solstice – this can't be coincidence, can it?). It climbs up over the Castle Rock and sweeps round to the South Bay, eventually hanging in the sky outside my bedroom window round the other side, only to set, a murky red colour, in roughly the place the sun sets at the summer solstice. I need a diagram… I love the enormous Harvest moons and Hunter’s moons that appear in the autumn months. Feeling that I’m part of all this rhythm, all these cycles, is very satisfying. I feel connected and it definitely helps me write.

Soon afer moonrise, Scarborough, July 2015

May your own and the earth, sun and moon's natural rhythms serve you well.

Follow me on Twitter @Ros_Warren



JO said…
What an interesting way of observing one's waxing and waning creativity.
Susan Price said…
And beautiful photographs!
Umberto Tosi said…
Your idyllic post recalls a spring auto tour I made of the UK (in a Fiat 1200, on impulse) while on a fellowship long ago, white-knuckled because I was an American driving on the left. LOL). It's my favourite time of year and you write about it beautifully.
Anonymous said…
I'm all for the sun shining up plug holes! Thanks for this evocative post and the stunning photos that go with it.

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