For the world is more beautiful and wonderful than anything that has ever been written about it, and the most glorious picture is not so beautiful as the face of a spring morning.
From The Three-Cornered World (1906) by Soseki Natsume
If pressed for an explanation, I would say that my soul was moving with the spring. Imagine all the colours, breezes, elements and voices of spring solidified, ground to powder and blended together to form an elixir of life, which had then been dissolved in dew gathered from the slopes of Olympus, and evaporated in the sun of fairyland. I felt now as though the vapour rising from just such a precious liquid had seeped through the pores of my skin and, without my being conscious of it, saturated my soul.
My dog has long insisted that we go for our walk as early as possible every morning, and there are no better mornings than the ones you can experience during the month of May. We leave the house shortly after the sun comes up, when the sky is clear, the air is gentle, and the dew is starting to form on the grass. At this time of year, it is the dew which makes our walks truly special.
The Chinese called dew “celestial water”, which is a perfect description for the liquid which mysteriously comes into being in the early morning hours. Dew has always seemed to be a very powerful and exceptionally pure kind of water. If there is such a thing as a quintessence of water, you can surely find it in dew.
Many people over the centuries have felt that dew has health giving qualities. In My Water Cure (1893), naturopath Sebastian Kneipp recommends that you walk barefoot in the dew-soaked grass as often as you can. Indeed, he was so enthusiastic about dew he almost considered it an elixir of life. Well, I don’t go barefoot when the dog takes me for his walk, but my socks and tennis shoes always get drenched with the stuff. If there is anything truly celestial in this water, it is getting absorbed right through my feet. Can I feel any difference when this happens? Not much I guess, except that I feel like I’ve been walking on clouds.
But you don’t always have to get your feet wet–the simple act of contemplating the dew can also be a wondrous experience. In her Pillow Book (10th century) Sei Shogonon approvingly quotes a friend who fully understood the charm of dew:
Noticing that the grass in the garden outside the palace had been allowed to grow very high and thick, I told them they should have it cut. “We’ve left it like this on purpose so that we might admire the dew when it settles on the blades.” The voice was Lady Saisho’s and I found her reply delightful.
As do I–here is a lady who knew how to find beauty everywhere she looked.
French novelist Guy de Maupassant states in Une Vie (1889) that there are only three things in creation which are beautiful: light, space, and water. This idea has always stuck in my mind, since one way or another we can experience these miraculous elements every single day. While we cannot always head off to the beach whenever we wish, we can find countless other ways to enjoy the spectacle of light and water. There is no better time to do it than the early morning hours, when the sunlight slowly turns the earth into a diamond-studded carpet. And if you contemplate it long enough, you will find the world around you expanding into infinite space.
From Perseus in the Wind by Freya Stark (1948):
Who does not feel pagan in the spring? That languor, when first the grass blade is folded so that it can hold a shadow; when lakes are soft, the colour of mist and light; when the streams run transparent with liquid notes, their wavelets cold as snowdrops. Cats lie in the sun with the five toes of each paw stretched out, and sleep, like a slow serpent, moves up and down their spine. The notes of birds at evening drop like water falling in water; and the buds, especially beech, have a sharp and bitter smell. The earth is damp, sucking dead leaves down into the furnace of her year, working at growth in warmth and darkness. I hope old age will not deprive me of this repeated visitation of delight in which, with the whole of our planet, we turn ourselves in space towards the sun. While this is happening, the puritan dies in us; there is a soul in inanimate things.