A new day. Shetland

The moon, a crescent, wakes me at just before 4am. It is shining through the window, the night sky pitch black but studded with stars.  Outside, I can see everything by the light of the moon.

In all the time that I have lived here, I have wanted to sit by the light of a long, outside, taper-candle on the beach. Now, I light it in the garden by the light of the moon in a windless night just after 4am.  I stick the taper into the ground in front of the house,  between my thinking bench and the wall. The shadow of the flickering flame dances like a sundial, resting on the south side of the taper, whilst the flame gently flickers north.  There is no wind, just a gentle whisp of a breath of air.  Here, I can see where the breeze arrives and leaves.

The sky is studded with stars.  The only constellation that I know is the Plough.  It is ahead of the house in the North East, I think. The rest I do not know but I look around and around in awe of miles and miles of stars, not seen as clearly in cities or towns.   Slowly, faintly, the sky begins to lighten in the East, showing its arrival through the crack between earth and sky, splitting and dividing the darkness into sea and sky. Still, the taper dances on unhindered, glowing light and a slight warmth.   I am not cold here on my thinking bench between house and porch, drinking tea and eating a Tunnock biscuit. There is no sound other than the sea down at the beach.

Northlink arriving from the South

As the skyline lightens with the approaching sun, the stars fade but I still see them.

The stars have all but disappeared. The light is magical. I use the camera to capture the moon. There is only enough battery to take three photos before it shuts down. I capture the moon in two. 

This fulcrum of time of darkness and light tipping from one to the other, is magical. What a gift to be alive at this moment, in this place.  There is no nip in the air but it is clear and crisp. The taper flickers on.   This is turning out to be one of my most beautiful mornings here, to watch the world in front of me change from dark to light guided by the light of a flickering outdoor taper, serenaded by the sound of the waves.

At 5:45, the sky has a faint peachy glow in between the sea and sky horizon line. As I look South, I see the tiny glowing lights of the Northlink arriving far away. What a peaceful calm sailing the passengers must be enjoying, sailing into sunrise.

A peach ribbon of light stretches south. The light begins to form the shape of a horizontal shard – the point of which is at the South and the wide end of light to the North, many miles away. There is a clear dividing layer of cloud, sky, sea – taking on hues of peach, pink, lilac, a deep rose colour and blue.  Slowly, slowly, the Northlink sails into the shard of light. The sky looks as if it is a tide upon a beach.

I sense the present moment in elements – Earth, Sea, Sky, Water, breeze and see the colours of peach, pink, lilac, blue and rose whilst sitting facing the sunrising and the moon leaving.  Light is pushing away the darkness, bleeding into it forming a new day.

Just think, if I had slept through this.

At 6:40am the first Starling arrives. I have baked them oats.  I don’t know if they can eat them but figure that if we can – then why not.

I have been on this bench for 2 hours celebrating a new day – what a start.


Author: traceydoxeydesigns

Site specific Artist using own created textiles, laser cuts and hand block printed wallpaper to engage with narratives of landscapes, social history and place.

5 thoughts on “A new day. Shetland”

  1. What a beautiful sky full of stars. It would make find a star map so that I could learn their names and see how the shifted across the sky through the seasons. Oh, to be able to navigate my way using the heavens on a clear night.


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