When I look out of my dining room window on a misty, drizzly day, I see in the foreground a half dozen houses that are part of the estate on which I live. Beyond them, an old viaduct looms magnificently among the even older trees of Long Timber Wood. Tiny cloudlets form and dissolve above the valley of the River Erme, which brawls down from ancient Dartmoor into the village of Ivybridge. It is a sight of sombre beauty even on a grey winter’s day.
Saturday, by contrast, was clear and bright. I sat at breakfast enjoying a soft-boiled egg and a cup of freshly ground coffee, and I gazed at the frost on the roof of one of the houses. My attention was caught by the hard-edged shadow that the building next to mine cast in the light of the new-risen sun. The shadow contrasted sharply with the bright white of the frost and made an acute angle across the roof.
And then I realised that I could see the shadow move. Its edge was travelling just fast enough for the motion to be perceptible. It was moving because the sun was rising. The sun was rising because the earth was rotating. I was – literally – watching the spinning of the earth about its axis!
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