In the coldest hour of the night, when even the gentlest north wind seems to have the power to penetrate every layer of clothing donned to protect against its insidious invasion the eye, attuned to minute alterations of light and shade after hours of night watch, becomes aware of a grey smudge on the eastern horizon.
A fraction of a shade lighter than the deep charcoal tones that surround it, it gains strength with every passing second, pulsing, paling by degrees until an unmistakable pearly sheen begins to creep over the surface of the water, mirroring the sky above it.
180 degrees across the compass the moon, previously blazing white and bathing the world in silver shadows, has begun to sink and take on a warm, amber glow. It is dawn.
A dusky blush – not pink, not grey, seeps over the eastern horizon, pushing the pearly light upwards to brighten more of the sky and the moon mirrors it as she descends, amber becoming pink as a flare of honey coloured light pushes its way upwards, opposite. There is the sense, travelling northward, of the globe tipping, turning, pouring the world into the waiting daylight just beyond the horizon.
The dead calm water, oily in its stillness breaks up the colour into hundreds and hundreds of concentric ovals in our wake, each one an oozing, glassy ripple that shies away from the boat toward the horizons. Flecks of pink, silver and gold skitter along the port side forming a narrowing path from our hull to the moon, a last chance to turn away, to race westward up that sparkling trail and back into the night.
Imperceptibly, the grey shades of night have become the blue tones of day and the sky, black at its zenith and white on the horizon bleeds through indigo, azure, rose, lilac, mint, amber and citrine in an opalescent kaleidoscope that, even as you watch, begins to fade as the first spark of the sun rips across the water. The last of the moon, the dull, redgrey colour of morning campfire ashes sighs into the water and the all-encompassing gentle colourwash of the pre-dawn is shattered by shards of bright orange light, becoming whiter and brighter as the earth continues its revolution into the day.