I could see my breath puff into the dim, early light of a December morning. It was not quite sunrise as I walked down to Bishops Park past nearly bare and knobbly branches stretching up in front of rows of still-dark terraced houses.
In the park, the rustle of a squirrel broke the silence, but everything else was still. I walked along to the lake where frozen twigs crunched over my feet. Reeds around the edges were frozen stiff. Ducks swam under sweeping willow branches and beyond them, the sky started to glow.
The light was warm and hazy, colours steadily evolving, starbursts slipping out from behind tree trunks at just the right angle.
On the ground, the autumn leaves were still piled up, a few still dangling, lonely, from trees. Have you ever admired the intricacy of frosty leaves? It’s incredible to see the delicate crystals lining the edges, the glistening of the ice in the low golden light, the way they are firm yet still pliable in your fingertips.
Down near the river, the water rocked gently as early bird rowing enthusiasts pushed out from the club on the other side. The green railings with their chipped layers of paint were cold to the touch.
Ducks bobbed along on the ripples and seagulls watched from the railings. The whole sky was a soft yellow-orange, beams of lights starting to slip between branches and illuminate the buses crossing over Putney Bridge.
I walked along past joggers for whom this magic is a daily sight, their silhouettes breaking into colour as they ran closer, out from the rays of the rising sun, breath hot against the crisp winter air.
The open expanse of grass near the water is lined with giant old trees. The way the warm light squeezed in from a corner and flooded the footpath transformed it into a fairyland. A man walked through with a dog, but it was otherwise empty and serene. Each individual blade of grass was coated in white frost.
It was amazing to think that in just half an hour, this would all be melted. By then, the sun would rise high enough into the sky that the light would lift and an ordinary day would begin erasing the glow, leaving its secret to the joggers and the rowers and the dog walkers who come to enjoy the morning silence.