SunrisePosted: May 3, 2004
Believe it or not, one of my favorite things to do is to sit outside with a cup of hot tea and watch the sun come up. I rarely get to do this on good terms. Usually, the events leading to such a treat are unfavorable at best. I can think of only a few times when I’ve seen the sun come up under the right circumstances. A few times when I was a kid, my family drove from Southern California to Arkansas to see my Dad’s family for a couple of weeks during the summer. These trips were fairly exhausting as my father does not believe in silly things like stopping at a hotel for the night. No, we drove all day, right through the night, and through the next day. We stopped for gas and food – and little else. Despite the rushed nature of the journey, the insaity of my dad’s family, my inability to sleep in a moving car, and the fact that my sister suffers from accute motion sickness, there were certain elements of these trips that were fantastic. One such element was stopping for gas in the middle of the night. When we’d stop for gas during the day it was an inconvenience. The truck stops were hot, they were dirty, they were crawling with people and the smell of gasoline was sickening. But at night, these same places transformed into something magical. No longer were they crowded – only the most devoted travelers and Knights of the Highways were to be seen. No longer were they dirty – cleaning crews had swept away the day’s mess and no one was awake yet to litter it up again. The temperature was still high, but without the sun they seemed almost chilly. And the smell of the gas… I’ll swear to my dying day that fluorescent lighting combined with moonlight and a light breeze must cause a chemical reaction that makes gasoline smell positively divine. These trips also provided me with my first sight of the phenomenon that is lightening bugs. Once, while making a rare stop for the night in some small Oklahoma town, I spied some fuzzy lights in a field across the highway. I spent the rest of the evening catching lightening bugs with my mom and dad – some were placed in glass jar. They died the next day – quite dissappointing, but amusing nonetheless. There were other things I liked about these trips. I liked being cooped up with my family for 32 hours straight, I liked the glowing lights of semi’s parked for the night at a rest stop, but most of all, I liked watching the sun come up. Because I didn’t really get any sleep on these trips, in the early morning, I usually got the front seat, while my mom, and later my sister, slept in the back. It always seemed that we managed to time our trip so that we were driving through New Mexico in the early morning. I can’t think of anything I’ve seen that has rivaled the beauty of the sun rising over the mountians in New Mexico. I know to many people, the desert is an ugly place. But to me, it’s an empty canvas, and an empty canvas holds endless possibility. Nothing illustrates this like a sunrise. When the sun rises in a city, the only colors you see are in the sky – up above. In the desert when the sun rises, you see every color imaginable all around. It’s breathtaking. My mother used to tell me a story about Father Sky and how he had this beautiful quilt of deep reds and oranges and golds. In the evening he gathered up his quilt to prepare for bed and that was the sunset. In the morning, when he awoke, he threw off his quilt and shook it out to prepare for day. And that’s what the sunrise is – a huge, gloriously colorful quilt. I think of this story every time I’m up at the break of dawn. Even if I’m up due to some unpleasant circumstance such as I haven’t yet fallen asleep, I enjoy the sunrise immensely. This morning. I got out of bed around 5am because I knew that I wasn’t going to fall asleep. I got up, went downstairs, made myself a cup of tea, and realized as I glanced out the window, that the sun was just about to make its appearance. I went outside thinking that later I would sit down and post something about how irritated I am with this whole not sleeping thing. As soon as that blanket of reds and golds starting spreading out all around me my entire mood changed – I thought myself quite lucky to witness such an event. So what started out as an idea to vent my frustrations has ended as a fond recollection of the delicate odor of moonlit gas stations, the awe of bugs with light bulbs in their asses, and the beginning of my love of an everyday occurance that I don’t get to see as often as I’d like.