I lie awake, unable to sleep. It’s nearly five o’clock in the morning and it won’t be properly light for at least three hours. The moon casts a silver sheen across the bedroom ceiling; I get up and head for the beach, hoping for something special.
Dark clouds flit across the sky, leaving shadows on the moonlit sea. The moon, sometimes hidden behind jet-black clouds, suddenly bursts with light, continually changing the mood and illuminating the silhouettes of gulls resting on the surface of the sea. The faint lights from stars seem to turn on and off as the clouds move quickly east, and only once do I glimpse a planet.
I sit on the beach below the cliff path sheltered from the elements, wrap a scarf tightly around my neck and wait. A tanker, anchored offshore and waiting for the tide, lights up the horizon. The rhythm of the pounding surf and noise of the foghorn from the lighthouse are the only sounds. Nothing else stirs. Peace and a lack of sleep cause me to doze off for a moment. Half awake, I’m gradually aware of movement; it’s a fox, he’s close and totally unaware of me snuggled into the cliff. He moves steadily, searching through the wrack of kelp along the high water mark. His movement disturbs an invisible flock of turnstones, which fly and most likely alight a safe distance away. Through binoculars I can just make out sand hoppers fleeing his advance, but he’s able to snap them up at will. He moves away, becomes another silhouette and fades into the darkness.
Moonlight gradually merges into first light and I hear voices on the footpath. Early risers are exercising their dogs; they probably do this daily, but I wonder if any of them have experienced the magic of a moonlit fox.