Conventionally, the rising of the sun indicates the promise of a new day. Dawn brings a transition from darkness into light ranging from the subtle to the dramatic, a transition associated with awakening, hope and possibility.
In nature the dawn chorus is not for nothing. The rising of the sun triggers a whole host of responses that are discernible even to the most casual human observer.
For many creatures, dawn is welcome and cheering. After protracted rains or on a chilly morning, what greater pleasure is there, for humans and animals alike, than to bask in the comforting warmth and rosy glow of the early morning sunshine?
A black-maned Kalahari lion enjoying the early morning warmth of the sun. Photographed near Twee Rivieren in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
But at the same time as the diffuse light of dawn signals the beginning of a new day, it also brings about an end: the sun rises to extinguish the stars and the planets from sight and it fades even a full moon to insignificance. As the night is deposed, nocturnal animals disappear to their daytime retreats and the mystery of darkness is vanquished.
As the sun lightens the land and the sky, the moon fades away. This photograph was taken at dawn on a cold morning at Mabuasehube in the Botswanan section of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
A year ago today, as the day began to dawn, my mother drew her last difficult breath. The sunrise the day after this singular transition happened to be particularly vivid (see here). When remembering my mother’s passing I will always think of the rising of the sun.
I write this on the 23rd April, the anniversary of my mother’s death. We have lit a candle that burns with a steady flame. As I think of my mother’s life, her stoic determination through a long illness, and of her passing, I recall many dawns and sunrises, some of which I shared with her.
This post is in remembrance of my mother. I have chosen a selection of photographs that I took not only of sunrises, but at dawn and the time just after the rising sun has lifted over the horizon or broken through a low band of clouds.
Seated in her chair outside our chalet, my mother watching the sunrise at Mkhuze Game Reserve on the last trip we took together a few years before the end of her life
This Cape Eagle Own looks annoyed to have been noticed after retreating into a tree for the day just after sunrise. Photographed in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana
Another nocturnal creature, a spotted hyena looks into the rising sun as it pauses while drinking at a waterhole before retiring to rest up during the day. Photo taken at Polentswa in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
A steenbok at Mabuasehube venturing out from cover to catch some early morning sunshine
The sun could not rise fast enough for me as I try to rekindle the previous night’s fire on an icy morning at Mabuasehube. I was so flustered by the cold I had my beanie on inside out!
Big early-morning sky at the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana
Not all mornings dawn in shades of orange. A violet and pink sky just before sunrise photographed from Leopard Camp on one of our trips to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The nests belong to white-browed sparrow-weavers
White storks still roosting at dawn on the skeletons of drowned trees on the Savuti marsh, in Chobe National Park, Botswana
An identifiably African sunrise with an iconic Baobab tree on the left, also at Savuti, Botswana
When we were up early one morning at the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, this lion crossed into the road in front of us and proceeded to saunter along for quite a while as we drove respectfully behind at a discreet distance. Truly he was king of the road
Another big cat at sunrise in the Central Kalahari – a cheetah making its way through the grasslands of a fossilised river bed. (The photo is a bit grainy as the low light forced me to push the ISO more than was really wise.)
An instance where the early bird really did get the worm – or rather caterpillar
A lark calling melodiously as the sun rises in the sky early one morning near Lesholoago Pan at Mabuasehube
A lattice work of small trees against the rising sun photographed from Mpila Camp in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal
Similar but different textures of trees against a tinted sky at sunrise at Mabuasehube in Botswana
Dawn skies just before sunrise can be delicately tinted, as here at Savuti, Botswana
Flamboyant, rather than delicate is this dramatic sunrise photographed by my husband in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in April three years ago
Zebra in the soft mists of dawn at Ithala Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal
These clouds building at sunrise in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve soon dissipated
One of my mother’s favourite birds, a Lilac-breasted Roller illuminated in early morning sunshine. May we all have the chance to find our transitory place in the sun where we can show our true colours
Posted by Carol