There is a moment soon after dawn on a clear autumn morning when to be able to stop time would mean to capture light of a magical quality. The greyness of wispy mist and the watery blueness of the sky combine to paint impressionistic landscapes across the Gloucestershire countryside. Such mornings seemed special in childhood years, the times when the world was occupied only by the early risers and when the sights and sounds of workaday life were yet to appear.
Perhaps growing up in a rural village distant from large towns or cities helped preserve the quietness of the hours before 7 o’clock. The village was too distant for its tranquility to be broken by commuters setting out on their daily journeys, instead the earliness was the space of farmers embarking upon their day’s work.
Cattle would have been inside after the milking of the night before and, after morning milking, would have been turned out to pasture for the day. If meadows were not contiguous to the farm, they would have been moved sedately along the road – a source of frustration for the odd person who might have wished to be going somewhere.
Traffic would have chiefly been farm vehicles, grey Massey Ferguson tractors, or perhaps blue Fords with cabs. Land Rovers were battered, canvas-roofed, with little by way of comfort in the cab, ventilation might have required opening vents at the front. The single windscreen wiper had an electric motor, but a small arm projecting from the motor allowed the driver to operate the wiper by hand. The indicators were of the semaphore variety, offering little warning to any car driver who might have been following.
The beauty of those early mornings was the sense of there being ample time, no matter what might need to be done in the day ahead, there were many hours in which to achieve it. Time before seven o’clock in the morning seemed to move much more slowly, there was less requirement to rush, less stress in completing task. Once the clock moved towards eight, the movement of the hands began to accelerate.
There were people in those mornings who became invisible in later hours. Perhaps once the tasks demanding movement beyond their own farm were completed, they stayed within their own yard. Perhaps encountering no-one and being expected to speak to no-one suited their inclination.
The empty hours have now become filled, traffic constantly rolls along the motorway. The only magic that remains is in that moment of morning light.