School’s out for summer
Geographer and GetOutside Champion, Alan Parkinson gives our teachers some outdoor inspiration for the school holiday period.
The sun rises every day, but does that mean we should take it for granted? As the seasons change, isn't it time to celebrate sunrise; wonder at it, share it. To try to work a burst of the pink-tinged great outdoors into the start of our day.
this, gloves on, hood up, flask of espresso
by my side. I'm perched
on a rock on the shoreline in Plymouth. And I've come here to
see the sunrise. It's been a busy two
weeks - the kind that leave you needing an alfresco fix; an outdoors re-set.
Each morning I'd vaguely been
aware of the skies
lightening through my window. There'd been some gorgeous colours, which made me pause briefly before getting on
with my day. Then one morning I realised it was making me wistful - out there
this thing was happening, but here I was inside, behind glass.
Which set me thinking: sunrise daily gives heart to millions - commuters, school run-makers, joggers, dog walkers. By popping up at different stages in our routines, the sun signals the year shifting gear. Just by rising earlier it’s the biggest harbinger of spring. When the mornings stay darker longer you know winter is on the way. In fact, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, hobbies, just being outside - the shifting themes of our lives are signalled by what time the sun starts to rise.
From Egyptians to Ancient Britons, people have known for millennia that this moment matters. And yet glimpsed through train and car windows, tangled in trees, sunrise is something we often consume on the go - hurried, partial; like a coffee or a snack.
"Make a date with dawn and just sit and watch the sky lighten"
I mentioned this sunrise thing to a friend - a very matter-of-fact friend. And she said, bluntly, "what's so remarkable about the sunrise? It does it every day. It'd be much more remarkable if the sun didn't rise." And she's right, of course.
But countering that beautifully is the quote, often attributed to Albert Einstein: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle”. And Professor Einstein was a brainy guy.
So I decided to see this everyday miracle on its own terms - to fit the sunrises' early-morning routine into my day - rather than the other way around.
I joined one of the early shifts of sea swimmers at Plymouth Hoe. I say 'one of' the early shifts because there are several: small shoals gather sometimes at 6am, others take the plunge at 7am, 7.30am, and then onwards through the day. So after greetings and chatter it was a tentative, staggered progression into the sea.
While whooping from the cold, arms reached forwards, legs kicked back – putting a little distance between self and shore. And then it was watching the sun rise from water that’d become a fiery, molten mirror, floating under candy-floss clouds.
It reminds me of the late-spring morning, decades ago when my Dad got my brother and me out of bed impossibly early. He walked us what felt like miles from our suburban estate to an orchard. And there we stood, bundled up in jumpers, feet cold in wellingtons, wrapped up in scarfs, waiting for the dawn chorus.
I still remember that burst of birdsong and our excited chatter all the way home.
So might it be time to round up family or friends for a dawn adventure? Despite horribly busy lives, might there be one morning where you can GetOutside and squeeze a little sunrise into your day. Because although a sunrise is ultimately very ordinary, it is also extraordinary. A mini-miracle; an everyday adventure that re-sets your day.
When and how does the sunrise
appear in your day. What does it look like; how does it change the view. Is it
rural, coastal or urban?
Who do you share it with; does it brighten your day?
Share your sunrise pictures on your favourite social media with #ShareYourSunrise and #GetOutside – and put a little sunshine in everyone's lives.
Belinda Dixon is a travel and adventure writer, a broadcaster and a leader for the charity, the British Exploring Society. Belinda champions the benefits of an active, outdoors lifestyle in everything she does and loves to 'showcase how everyone - whoever and wherever you are, and however you live – can enrich their lives by getting outside.'
You can find out about Belinda's adventures at belindadixon.com/blog.