Sunrise, stones and stardust

7 May

Rising before dawn prompts many questions; why am I awake again, whose idea was this, and will there be coffee?  Fortunately for me and the hundred or so early risers in attendance, the impressive line-up of entertainment and presence of a coffee van in the Lawn Woods served as a welcome reminder of why we were there. For, it was, of course, the launch of the twenty-fifth Swindon Festival of Literature, and the Dawn Chorus is an integral part of the carefully curated programme, as are the authors who attend.

As newcomers, to this longstanding event, I, and Millie (9) did not know what to expect; layered up, cashed up, and blanket laded we approached in the manner that life should be; open but prepared. However, our warm coverings were not necessary due to our fortunate timing of attending the hottest Dawn Chorus on record.

Sunrise dawn chorus

Yes, the sun rising is a daily event but the Dawn Chorus itself only an annual one, this year’s (albeit my first) seemed somewhat brighter, magical and more significant than those that have preceded. Jake, Darine and company frivolously cavorted with the audience. The choir serenaded with their songs. Cat Weatherill shared a poignant story of thought, truth and belief, while Matt shared poetry and readings from passed poets/authors.

Jake and Fire

Children danced, the band played, and the May Pole suitably decorated on more than one occasion seemed fitting in the May sunlight. Silhouetted Millie turned to me, to thank me for bringing her, and more importantly, she shared these words whose poignancy caused me to stop and think, ‘how lucky are we to gain three hours today while everyone sleeps and for it to have been attending the Dawn Chorus.’

Maypole dancing

Because amongst the sun-worshipping, lively entertainment, and readings comes a moment of reflection for those who were once present, now passed. Two and half decades of a Festival can collect many memories as well as bid farewell to many faces – fourteen to be exact.

As Jon Cannon, read, we are all Neanderthal creatures, made of stardust and stone. And stardust and the stones are made of us.

Jon Cannon

If we are present in the very earth on which we stand than hopefully so are the memories that we make year after year. Here is to another thirteen days of thought-provoking events, laughter and fun – because as Matt said, in one way or another, who said seriousness and humour could not go together?

The Dawn Chorus launched the Swindon Festival of Literature on 7 May 2018.
Top pictures ©Fernando Bagué

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