A continuation of the journey that began on January 1, 2010, recorded in "a year of getting up to meet the day." After 365 consecutive sunrise outings in that year, I couldn't bear to give up the dawn. This blog (no longer daily) will be informed and inspired by the rising light of the morning sun.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

the smell of snow

sunrise:  7:00

...the smell of snow.

One would think I'd have noticed such a thing before, some time during 50 years of winters.  But it felt like a brand new discovery this week.

Surely during childhood, when my face was periodically buried in the snow, either by mishap or some mischief maker, I must have experienced the smell of snow.  I certainly knew the taste.  When my own children were small, I became reacquainted with the taste of snow.  "Eat 'no!" was one of my youngest daughter's earliest phrases.   Eat snow - she loved it.  So I had to try it too, and then I remembered that taste, kind of minerally, almost metallic, light, fresh, more distinct than you would imagine.

Some time during this past week, while snowshoeing around the back fields (what an amazing year for snow excursions!), I was suddenly struck by the scent, wafting through the air over acres of whiteness. It was instantly familiar, because it was the scent version of the taste of snow.  It had never occurred to me that one could smell snow, but there it was.  So I had to taste it too, for confirmation.  There is plenty of it to go around.

I wonder if my year of daily connecting to the outdoors has enhanced my observational aptitudes...?  I'd like to imagine it's true.


Writing has become a daily activity in my life, as I hoped would happen.  I have taken on a second book project.  My biggest challenge now is to finish.  A 700 word weekly column is one thing; to finish a book is an entirely different challenge.  I seem to be good at starting, but haven't managed to see a book through to completion.  I am working on seeing it happen, in my mind's eye.  Then I have to see it happen on my computer screen.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

dogs in the snow

sunrise:  7:04

There are a lot of days when I count on the exuberance of my dogs to get my spirits up.  Today, I let them lead the way for more mechanical reasons. 

Kate broke trail most of the way, stick at the ready, as always.

Even little Guster forged ahead with gusto.

Clara was still able to forage for apples, even through 20 inches of snow (though she mostly stayed right on my heels - a dog more inclined to conservation of energy, which I can thoroughly understand).

Here you can get a glimpse of all three in their respective attitudes.

Today I am feeling especially appreciative of my canine companions.

It's always, always great to be out here at dawn.  The character of this particular, brilliant, crystal clear, sparkling morning was especially worth the effort.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Australia sunrise - Queensland

Here are some very nice thoughts and lovely sunrise photos from the opposite side of the globe.  These sunrise photos were taken about 4 days ago.

Many thanks to Ann from Queensland, Australia!

Sunrise and Mangroves - Slightly cloudy this morning but there's blue sky and no rain! The island is surrounded by mangroves

I came across your blog by "accident" from googling Rachel Field. I had been fortunate to come across her beautiful poem "Autumn's Coming" and wanted to find out who she was, and where I could find more of her poetry. Finding your blog was like finding a treasure! I could identify with the reasons that prompted you to begin your journey. I made a similar one myself when last year started with the shock of losing my job, my eldest daughter leaving home and youngest planning the same.

  Sleeping Ferries: the only photo which captured a little tinge of pink

I was encouraged by my family to start a blog. I found a diary in a secondhand market written by a lady in 1937 about her voyage by steamship from Adelaide to Japan and back. I typed it up and released an entry a day as the dates of 1937 and 2010 were the same. Trying to find out who wrote the diary and what happened to her son, produced another story which has now become a website (www.sealikeglass.com). This project kept me going and introduced me to a new world.

 Ibis flying over the jetty - this might be a bit fuzzy but I'm sending it because it reminded me of Rachel's poem.

This morning I was woken up at 4.20 am by two laughing Kookaburras outside my window. They wake up the Morning Chorus, and so the day begins. I had been thinking of trying to take some photos for you of a sunrise here. For quite a while, we have had nothing but rain. I'm sure you've seen footage of what's been happening in Australia on the news.

I went straight to the computer to check the time of sunrise - it was 5:07, so I jumped to it! Attached are some photos from Russell Island which is the largest (8x3kms) of the Southern Morton Bay Islands and is snuggled inside North Stradbroke Island off the coast of Queensland.

 The (indirect) early morning ferry departs Russell Island (Aboriginal name: Canaipa) for the islands of Karragarra, Lamb (Nguderoo), Macleay (Alcheringa). In the distance you can see the sand dunes of North Stradbroke Island.

When all is quiet, you can hear the roar of the South Pacific Ocean pounding the beaches on Straddie. It takes 20 minutes on a direct ferry to reach the mainland and then a 35 minute (off peak) car journey north to Brisbane; 35 minutes south takes you to the Gold Coast - another country really! I moved here last September from sunny, dry Adelaide, South Australia where all my things are in storage. I'm not sure where I will settle or call home. It's a strange thing to be starting again from scratch at 53. In one way, it's akin to being 18 and not knowing what's ahead.

I walked through the quiet, past the pine trees and scribbly gums, down to the jetty with the light just breaking. The photos were taken today between 5:07 am and 5:30 when the early morning ferry left.

 The Kookaburra who woke up the morning came and laughed at me on my return walk. In the evenings and through the night, we have the haunting cry of the Curlews.
Greetings and best wishes from Australia--

Friday, January 14, 2011

forever makes it harder

sunrise:  7:10

I've been trying to find my stride.  Now that the framework of daily sunrise walks is off my to do list, it seems that my life's schedule has gone chaotic.  Many days I'm up early-ish, but the stretch and walk and write routine loses out to other errands of the day.  Or maybe it's just the fact that it's much easier to sit in the kitchen, drink coffee, and read the newspaper.

 yesterday's thermometer

I know - we should all have such terrible problems.  I have no excuse, really, except apathy.  It was great to set a one year goal - up and out for sunrise every day.  My intention of doing it once in a while doesn't seem to be panning out.  To decide that I'm going to do it every day again, from now on, forever, feels impossible.  I'll have to continue seeking a regimen that will push through laziness - harder than I thought.

My tenth weekly column is in today's paper.  Very exciting, though it is another new adjustment - these weekly deadlines.  They, too, are good for me and may help me find that magic life routine that I've been searching for.  A writing life takes a lot more self-discipline than I've had to summon in the past.


Anyway - it was wonderful to be back out there this morning.  The whiteness of the world after Wednesday's new foot of snow is glorious.  You can tell that it was a northern wind blowing the storm in - all of the white highlights on the trees are on the northern side.

The deep snow has driven more deer into the back yard too.  You can see their tell-tale two-toed tracks through the snow.

They have been gathering under the wild apple trees for a meal.  Clara and Guster were working pretty hard to get some apples for themselves, but Kate is at her usual post with a stick.

No visible sun to see, but a beautiful light show infused the morning cloud cover.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

southern California dawn

Here is a thoughtful guest post from a college student, Tess, in Los Angeles, plus some beautiful sunrise skies:

Friday, January 7, 2010
Los Angeles, CA
Sunrise: 7:00am

At 5:30am on Friday, I hit the road for Phelan, a small town in the High Desert of Southern California. I spent this last weekend of my winter break at a leadership training conference for the California Association of Student Councils (CASC), a non-profit student leadership organization that I had donated many hours to throughout high school. The conference, called Advanced Skills Training, teaches selected volunteers how to coach the student counselors who make up the bulk of the organization. CASC’s guiding principle is peer-to-peer training, and in its leadership programs and camps throughout the year, the organization uses trained high school students to facilitate discussions and learn in small groups made up of their peers. On Friday, I was on my way to becoming a “gamma,” CASC’s quirky name for the trainers of its student counselors.

I hadn’t been involved in CASC at all since I began college. Studying on the east coast made it difficult to return to California for conferences during the year, and my travels abroad took me away for the summers. It was – and still is – odd to me that I chose to reengage with this part of my past as I begin to look ever more intently towards my future. As I begin my final semester of college, thoughts about the once elusive concept of “life-after-Yale” loom large. While I haven’t settled on a path just yet, I surprised myself by looking to my pre-college experiences for guidance.

The three days I spent reconnecting with the organization were a reminder of the fun times and experiences that I had had with the same people not too long ago. During the training, we even learned several new skills that I think will help me succeed in the coming months as I begin this next chapter.

No matter how you cut it, life always manages to come full circle.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Missouri's Meramec river - summer sunrise

Sometimes, January seems to give people the blues.  Post-holiday let-downs, housebound by weather, spring still too far to lend promise.  The days may be getting longer, but not by much. 

I think this is a good time to have received a contribution of a beautiful summer sunrise. 

James from Missouri said this:

"This one was taken from our breezeway overlooking the Meramec river valley, about 25 miles southwest of St. Louis. It’s our favorite of many we’ve taken."

Thanks, James.  We needed that.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Virginia birthday sunrise / three nudges

For a very beautiful sunrise photo taken on January 4th in Virginia, my thanks go to Aunt Gerry.  And Happy Birthday!

Ostensibly, now that "a year of getting up to meet the day" has run its course, one of my top priorities should be getting back to full time work on my book - the story of the life of Rachel Field.  I have been working... working on columns for my new newspaper job, working on being a hostess to two guests (one is a surprise visitor from Panama) and working on creating daily lists that fill all my time. 

Sometimes life seems to send you little nudges.  In the last week I received three.

1. Last week a Maine author heard about my work and sent me a wonderful article about Rachel Field from 1998, one I had not seen before. 

2. I received a strange email today - inexplicably delayed for 14 months!! - from the friend who put me up near Stockbridge, Mass, Rachel Field's childhood home, when I was there to do research.

3. Also today, I received an email from the curator of the Stockbridge library inviting me to be a guest speaker next summer, to talk about my work on Rachel's story.

Time to take the hint and get back at it.  Maybe a couple of sunrise excursions would help...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

10,000 days

No pre-dawn excursion this morning, but I'm making up the parameters of this blog as I go along.

I couldn't let this day go by without acknowledging a marital landmark.  J and I were married on Aug. 20th, 1983.  That means that as of today, right around this very moment of 3:15 in the afternoon, we have been married for 10,000 days.  And, maybe with the exception of a few days along the way, we still look forward to seeing each other!

Thanks go to my dad, a numbers man, for setting a precedent of odd anniversaries.  He and my mother passed their 20,000 day mark a couple of years ago.  Not a bad run.


It's been nice, by the way, to see my back yard in new levels of daylight.  I still like dawn best.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hong Kong dawn

I couldn't resist today's title. Sounds kind of like an exotic dish in a Chinese restaurant, or maybe a pro wrestler's stage name, or mysterious woman with a shadowy past.

It is none of those things, however. Just some pictures of the late December sunrise in Hong Kong, sent by Sam, who is traveling there with his college singing group during their winter break.  His  pictures were taken with an iphone from the top floor of the building where they spent their first four nights.  The building was next to a mall where they sang three 45 minute sets three times a day for four days - so they had good exposure and tired voices.

the view west during sunrise

Sam goes on to tell a bit more about their trip:

<<We sang some awesome concerts and explored a bunch for the first few days, and then yesterday morning we moved to this country club locker room, where we're currently staying -- it's a place we sang at earlier, and they offered us this space to stay in so we said why not? It's pretty wacky to be sleeping in a locker room, but there are pads and blankets and stuff, so it's pretty comfortable.

As far as adventures go, we've eaten some good traditional foods like dim sum and congee, gone out in the bar district, wandered around the Hong Kong Park, explored Nathan Road (AKA the Golden Mile), went on a bus, a train, and a cable car to visit the world's largest Buddha statue and a monastery, went on the Dragon's Back hike (with fantastic views), and swam in the South China Sea afterwards! It's been great, and I feel like I've seen (or will soon see) everything that I want to see, which is excellent.>>

Monday, January 3, 2011

addicted to sunrise

I am laughing at myself as I walk around the snowy fields at 7am.  This is going to be harder than I thought, this renouncing of the dawn.  The light of the impending day, magnified by the brilliance of an overnight snowfall, was too strong a siren call.

As sunrise creeps back slowly to the other side of 7am, it may get easier to ignore it.  We'll see.

It really is time for me to move on to other projects.  But...maybe just a few more...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

first sleeping in; Christmas dawn in London

Since many of you have asked, I will report on my first day of sleeping past pre-dawn for the first time in a year.

It was a mixed experience.  Since J and I made it past midnight (barely) to ring in the new year, my sleeping in was blissfully restful until around 8:45.  Then I grew restless.  I had a knot in my stomach; I felt like I was missing something (and I was).  Even harder, throughout the day, was refraining from sitting at the computer to write a post (I did so enjoy the string of comments on the Dec 31st post, however - many thanks to all!).  My whole sense of routine is off kilter.

It is clear that it will take some time to re-adjust to a new framework for the day. and it is certain that I will be up at dawn again before too long.

In the meantime, I am happy to report that I already have two sunrise submissions from other countries.  Today I will share this photo and some wonderful reflections from Nadia in England:

"It's New Year's eve here in Somerset where we are with Alan's parents after having spent Christmas in London (couldn't get to Maine - Heathrow snowed in) on our narrowboat in the Grand Union Canal. Which was frozen. You don't get very dramatic sunrises in English thick cloud, but here is the "sunrise" on Christmas morning from the stern of our boat, to add to your collection. A small spot on the canal thawed out enough to give the local swans a place to sleep and feed - those are not icebergs!

I love being on the canal - when you are in a boat, greeting the dawn outside is as simple as opening the back door and walking out onto the deck. Nature is so close - lots of wildlife even in the winter, when the birds use the canal as a source of food and escape. Seeing the moorhens iceskating across the ice as the day breaks is a good way to start the day off laughing."