Not being a morning person by nature, I have retained a naive wonder at what's going on out there while most of us are in bed. I haven't curtained my bedroom windows so that the sun wakes me as it rises (unless I've artfully arranged pillows across my head, which involves punching and pulling little air holes and is needlessly complicated so I give myself over to the sun quickly).

The air this morning was so weirdly warm by sunrise that the meadow was thickly spangled with fog. Golden light, so thick it was syrup, picked out chains of spiderweb woven through the tall grasses. When I took a closer look, I saw that these weren't the elegant, intact webs of summer.

They are in tatters, as though the fey creatures of night had caught the hems of their gowns and the lace of their sleeves on sharp thorns, and torn them in the race to get home before sunrise.

I felt as if I were catching a glimpse through a wormhole to another world in another time--you know, the way you pass a window while you are walking a noisy city street at dusk, and inside chandeliers are lit, the chestnut furniture has a burnished patina, the portraits in oil are deep and dark, champagne sparkles in glasses, women are in gowns, there is a party--but you do not hear a sound and the people inside are oblivious that to your presence. You stand, transfixed, in the noisy 21st century, peering into the 19th.

As the light grew stronger and the fogs burned off, I could see that the meadow was trampled, and glittered with chains of cobweb; all I could think was, it must have been quite a party. I remember as a child my father telling me that the strange, tall grasses forming perfect circles in the lawn were fairy rings, left there after a night of frantic dancing and ceremonial magic. I believed him, of course. This, after all, was a man who could name the constellations in the night sky. I still believe him. The world would be a shabbier place without dew-pearled, cobbed cutwork and fairy rings.

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