DAWN LIGHT: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways To Greet the Day


In an eye-opening sequence of personal meditations through the cycle of seasons, celebrated storyteller-poet-naturalist Diane Ackerman awakens us to the world at dawn, bringing into stunning focus a time of day that many of us literally or metaphorically sleep through. Drawing on sources as diverse as meteorology, world religion, etymology, art history, poetry, organic farming, and beekeeping, Ackerman explores dawn’s every aspect from bird and animal behavior, to the incomparable morning light that has long inspired artists such as Monet, to dawn rituals the world over, to the many connotations of the word “dawn.” In prose so rich and evocative that one can feel the earth turning beneath one’s feet as one reads, Ackerman’s thrilling observations—of things ranging from cloud glories to the endangered whooping cranes of the book’s title—urge us to live in the moment, to wake up to nature’s everyday miracles.



“Diane Ackerman is one of our great literary voluptuaries. . . . [T]he writing that results is as invigorating as a lungful of cool morning air.” — San Francisco Chronicle review

"Her gift to us is the sheer pleasure of seeing the world through her loving eyes." —  Washington Post review


“A keenly observed portrait of the world. . . . A general celebration of our continually renewed existence.” — Los Angeles Times

Stepping into Ackerman’s smart and comfortable shoes, what’s not to like about dawn, with "its ancient thrill of impending daylight," where birds bring news from a far country, we enchant ourselves by simply paying attention? "Morning," wrote Sei Shonagon in The Pillow Book, " — most astonishing." — Barnes and Noble Book Review

"Intoxicating in its rush of imagery, charming in its whimsical anthropomorphism, “Dawn Light” is also a time-traveling treasury of obscure information. Ackerman whisks us from pre-Christian Britain to medieval Japan and from light-starved northern Norway to north Australia as a “cloud glory,” a fogbank hundreds of miles long, rolls toward the coast. She knows why sunflowers bend, where the Easter bunny comes from, what kind of web a spider weaves when tripping arachnid-style on LSD. Alert and inquisitive, she urges us with all her powers of articulation to do as she does, to open our senses to the “thisness” not just of each new day but of all the hours and seasons of our fleeting lives." Amanda Heller, Boston Globe


© 2022 Diane Ackerman