But morn as well as eventide in Keswick Vale are at this time of year [January] full of witchery.  I cannot say why it is, but it seems as if since the shortest day of the year the mornings have been growing darker and the sun later in his rising.  This morning at eight o’clock, as I walked down into the valley, you might have supposed, from all one could see of the coming day, that his majesty the sun had determined to ‘sleep in,’ as we say in Cumberland.  Any idea of coming forth as a bridegroom from his chamber and rejoicing as a giant to run his course would have seemed to-day very far from his thoughts, and yet it is near the end of the second week of January. (p. 23)

Skiddaw lies dwarfed and haggard; the snow has powdered his lower raiment and laid deep winter whiteness on his head.  Black as jet are the enclosure walls upon him and ebon-black the little copses and the larch plantations on his skirts.  The sky is neither blue nor grey at the zenith, and Helvellyn to the south is almost silver white.  The trees in the vale are drear in their nakedness beyond description, and one would suppose that the sheep in the near field would have died of hunger in the night, so bare and barren seems their pasture-ground.  Not a cock-crow is heard, not a black wing from the rookery wood is seen in heaven.  The light is so weirdly strange on the shadowless vale and shadowless mountain slopes that one asks oneself, Is this dawn or eventide?  Away above the Skiddaw Dodd to the north a star trembles brilliantly. (pp. 23-4)

It is Sunday morning; the bell chimes for early service, and along the half-dusky road come a few muffled figures towards the bell.  The old horse stands in a cloud of his own breath as he noses the ground at his feet.  It is bitter cold; the churchyard gate clangs, and service goes forward.  Then again the gate clangs, and cheery voices are heard in the road. ‘What a transformation scene! What a sunrise!  I never saw so much light in heaven before without a sun!’  And the speaker spoke the truth. (p. 24)

Half an hour ago you would suppose the earth was never to see another morning.  Sunlessness and silence deep as death was over all the scene.  The vale was grizzled grey with hoar frost, the mountains grey with powdered snow were black where the snow lay lightly as though they had all been charred by some great cataclysm of fire, and these scars had been covered with white ashes. (p. 24)

But what a change a few minutes have worked in heaven and earth.  Now gloriously radiant shone the buttresses of gulfy Skiddaw; the umber red of the bracken slopes appeared like rose impearled.  The dead larch copses seemed yellowing with the spring, and on Grisedale and the western hills blue cobalt shadows lay upon shining ivory.  The trees glistened with new life; the leaves upon the road, crisped and curled, shone as if diamond dust had been given them to add to their last days of earthly service.  The poplars stood up towers of gold against the glowing dawn, the far lake glittered, the cocks crew, the sheep shone white as milk toward the brightened east, and the rooks came streaming across the cloudless heaven with happy voices, as if they knew to-day would be sunshine all the day, and they were determined to enjoy themselves even if a good deal of hard field labour must be done. (pp. 24-5)

But not yet had the great sun rolled from behind Helvellyn into sight.  All this light in the valley, on meadow and tree, was but the glory that foresaw his rising, and still, though all the summits of the hills were golden bright, the lower skirts were wrapped in ghostly grey.  Far overhead in faintest blue, like flocks of sheep, the tender companies of clouds were moving to the south.  But one cloud lingered in the west and seemed scarcely to move at all; it was the pale morning moon. (p. 25)

I wandered homeward, and the little wrens kept company with me, seemed to invite me to a game of hide-and-seek.  The tree-keeper ran, mouselike, up tree or wall, as if it really enjoyed its hunting; and from the eaves and chimneys the starlings in their happiness ran through their bits of human talk, mimicked the man that broke stones by the road, the gardener wheeling his creaking barrow, the thrush that called to his mate, the boy that whistled, the dog that barked, the cock that crowed from the distant farm, for they, too, seemed to feel the night was over and gone and the morning was assured to them. (pp. 25-6)

It was a wondrous transformation.  One hardly could have guessed that the giant behind Helvellyn in thirty minutes’ space could have wrought such change from death to life, from hopelessness to hope, and given to mountain-head and meadow and man and bird and beast for dreariness such cheer.  But, after all, that surely was what the dawn was meant for.  This is the message of each new sunrise for the mind.  But men will not see it.  They go crowding up into the great towns and shut themselves up in labyrinths of brick and mortar.  And even those who stay behind in the quiet countryside fill themselves with such anxieties and care they have not heart to lift their eyes to heaven or let the magic of the morning work its charm. (p. 26)

(By Fell and Dale at the English Lakes, pp. 20-26)