| paulcapewell.com
| Gauze
Posted on 22 February 2023

Pre-dawn light through a heavy gauze - the kind of damp air that clings to one's facial hair. The birds are slightly less vocal than the other day, but still giving it some. I try to record their twitterings but know that the recording will be muddied with distant cars and my own footsteps. Streetlights cast their light in vague arc shapes, and on the hill the castle is recognisable but shrouded enough to give an air of history and mystery. The quality of the sound is different, too, in a similar way to how snow makes the land sound different.

The air is damp - it is humid this morning. Humidity is a word which until the last year or two - maybe since moving to the coast - I only really used for the warm kind. A sticky, humid day. It's the humidity that gets you. But more recently I notice how damp the air is on certain cold days. And, lo and behold, my various hygrometers tell me it is 90%+ humidity outside. A sticky one. But not warm.

I'm still trying to get the wheels spinning on 2023 but it's almost here. This blog being re-energised is very much a product of its time. A cold reboot. Other projects and aspirations have whirred into life as the year properly begins for me - albeit nearly two months late.

Who ever thought of starting the year in the murky depths of late December and eaely January? The older I get the more I recognise that the festivals of our predecessors are a much better mark of the passage of time. This strange universe, or our local neighbourhood within its vastness, has come up with a perfectly good way of noting the passing of the days and years with the incomprehensibly mechanical movement of the 'heavenly bodies'. I yearn, once again, for some sun- and moon-based calendar or clock to live my life by. Alas, the mechanisms of modern life are far more rigid.

Did you know that smart bulbs (or the software that powers this one particular model) enable you to set them to come on at, for example, x minutes before or after sunrise and sunset? This is incredible. It makes me want to throw out all my digital timers with their pesky 24-hour clocks and rely on a network of IP-connected devices which respond to the movements of the sun rather than their built-in clocks. Perhaps I won't move to such a reliance too hastily. But I was delighted to discover this unexpected crossover from the new (wifi-connected bulbs) and the ancient (the passage of the sun through the sky as observed on the surface of the earth).

In yearning for more technology-based connections to the rhythms of nature, my phone now has widgets which display not just the weather, but the tides, the moon cycle, and the sunrise and sunset times. It feels like a bit of a cheat to have these digital prompts, but I know that their easy access will encourage me to seek out their real-life counterparts if I know when and where to look. I am so much more aware of them this way, and it encourages me to get out and be amongst them at the appropriate times.

This week I am - in a way not dissimilar to 'gardening by the moon' - running with the tides. This week's new moon (the beginning of a supermoon phase, no less) has brought with it a spring tide. This means higher- and lower-than-usual tides at the given times. I cannot resist going out to experience such peaks and troughs, particularly as the tidal range hereabouts is so extreme - something like 6-7 metres different between high and low, and all the complete shift in how the coast looks that goes with such extremes.

So yesterday I ran to the coast to meet the high tide - cruel nature meant that the highest tides occurred in the middle of the night, but this veritable bathful at lunchtime left very little area of beach uncovered. The weather was calm so the edge of the sea was mere ripples threatning to overtop the edge of the beach. In stormy weather, these spring tides ferociously batter the coast and don't so much drown the beach as hurl great mouthfuls of it towards the prom.

Tomorrow I will run before breakfast to inspect the low tide. This stretch of coastline has, when the plug is pulled out by the moon's effects, many buried treasures to find, including submerged reefs and ledges of rock, and even the odd shipwreck.

The coast is always changing.