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.


Friday, April 22, 2011

April winter

sunrise: 5:38

Poor April has been struggling to assert her springy nature.  Yesterday it snowed.  The day before it hailed.  Today I wore a hat and gloves,  puddles were ice-wrinkled, frosty hummocks of field grass stood at stiff attention, my feet crunched over mud and meadow.  If it weren't for the optimism of the bird population, and a few promising buds on a pussy-willow tree, I might imagine it to be November.

But the sunrise was a good one, and the moon was  lovely.

Even though I kept him on a leash due to the early hour and his penchant for baying at nothing, Guster enjoyed an exuberant roll in the grass.  Unfortunately, across the field Clara enjoyed an exuberant roll in something more pungent, tantalizing only to dogs.  That's one of the down sides to the spring thaw.  And Kate was just exuberant with a stick. 

Looks like a good day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

myers-briggs and thoughts about type

 sunrise:  5:45am

Without the daily regimen of sunrise walks, my chances of catching one of those brilliant spectacles in pink is minimal.  Combine that with the 5am alarm requirement, and I'm beginning to wonder about the motivation to get out there at dawn.  I have to remind myself that all types of sunrise have their own beauty - but really, some are less beautiful.

Still - the bird chorus is spectacular.  I invited an Audubon naturalist friend to come inspect our back fields last week.  The ability of practiced birders to spot and identify amazes me.  She was impressed with our lot, and may help us lobby to be one of the locations for next year's guided "neighborhood bird walks" in May.

Our oldest daughter just went through a Myers-Briggs type testing session in the context of her work.  The test and analysis have so intrigued her that she wants the whole family to take it and is speculating about where they will land on the spectrum.  My dear husband was equally caught up in it about 15 years ago, as was my dad.  We both took the test back then, and it is pretty compelling.  It was interesting to reopen the book and read about it again after years have passed.

One thing to note is my reaction to my "results" at age 50 vs age 35.  Today I find it far more instructive and accurate.  At 35, I was resistant to labels, constantly in search of exceptions to the categorizations of my personality.  To me, my calmer outlook today is an indication of being more comfortable in my skin, and more aware of who I am.  I think I spent years trying to figure out what I was like, what kind of person I was.

Once, on an application form for choosing a summer au pair from overseas, I was asked to describe not only our family, but myself.  "What kind of person are you?  Describe your personal style.  How do you relate to people?"  I fretted over that question for days.  "What am I like?!" I appealed to my husband; "What's my personal style?!"

Today I'm still making discoveries.  I think one of the most important life tasks is never to close yourself to changing your ways.  Overall, however, I'm less worried about it.  Aging definitely has its advantages.

Another offshoot of the personality typing conversation was compatibility.  Obviously, there are certain "types" that get along with each other better than others.  J has been fascinated by the concept of matchmaking websites recently (should I be worried?).  They are advertised more and more on TV, and are clearly quite popular.  It is kind of tantalizing to think of people out there who may be superbly compatible with you.  Are there websites that just help you find friends?  Wouldn't it be kind of cool to see who they find for you?   Although one might see type-testing as little more than reading the horoscopes, tests like the Myers-Briggs are far more sophisticated.  I suspect that the successful matchmaking sites use something very similar.

I guess since we spend less and less time in shared activity with other people, we don't have the same opportunities to observe them in life.  We are bound to our computers, lingering indoors, enslaved by the telecommunication world even when we are out in the open.  Those people we might have met, observed, converse with in our moments out in the world are often erased by the other people in our ears.  So the computer may be a much better way to assess who is our "type" and help us find them.  Scary, but perhaps true.

There are little lakes in our April field where no lakes should be, but they won't last.  It is a healthy, thirst-quenched field nearing the end of Maine's infamous mud-season - a particularly chilly one.  We are still building fires to take off the chill almost every day.

It wasn't too long ago that this stone marker was entirely buried in snow.

Crocuses are up.  I have seen some forsythia pushing its insistent yellow into the frosty air.  A mallard pair and a a pair of mergansers have both spent time on our pond, so we are hopeful for baby ducks once again.  The greening is slowly beginning.  This is my type of weather.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

ice out

Saturday, April 9th sunrise

I'm posting a few days late.  The landscape has changed significantly since I took these photos last weekend, but here is how it was.  The ice was beginning its retreat on Saturday.  A pair of mallards had already taken advantage of the open water around the edges.  They quacked indignantly when the bounding dogs made them clamber up onto the ice.

When we returned from a weekend away on Monday evening, there was one patch of watery ice remaining on the northern end of the pond.  The next day it was fully clear.  You'll see on my next post, which probably won't be too long from now, since the mornings are so exceptional right now.

Our first spring with our new birding binoculars has been wonderful.  On a recent evening walk, J and I saw cardinals, mallards, geese, chickadees, robins galore, red-winged blackbirds, crows, and a bunch of black birds we haven't identified.  I have heard woodpeckers in the distance, but haven't pursued them yet.  We also wandered down by the Penobscot River yesterday and saw a pair of eider ducks soaring just over the water's surface.  And the coolest sighting yet, for me, was a year old bald eagle that landed in a tree right near a riverside home where I was doing an interview for my column.

It seems to have been a busy season, with yet more travel ahead - a cross-country trip with my daughter and a double-college-graduation weekend before May is over.  I have two book projects hanging over my head and am looking to generate more of steady income with my writing or other work.  Funny how quickly this empty nest became very full.  It's all very exciting and stimulating, but I am also looking forward to a stretch of time when I can just stay put for a while, maybe get into a steady rhythm of just living and working and being right here at home.

Get outside for one of these springtime dawns.  You won't regret it.  If you do, send along some photos to share...

Monday, April 4, 2011

sunrise in Boston, with shadows

Tessa sent a post from Boston, where she is a college student:

I got up before sunrise today to go work on a film shoot about an hour away from school.  These pictures are from a little bit after sunrise.  In Boston, the sunlight doesn't really show itself until about an hour after the official sunrise because of all the tall buildings.  Boston should have its own sunrise time:  when the sunlight actually hits the city.

You can kind of see the line of shadow and light here as the sun is starting to hit the buildings.

Finally, I actually saw the sun when we got a little bit further out of the city towards the shooting location. This picture is looking through the dirty train window.  Lovely.

By the time we got to the town where we would be shooting, the sun was basically risen, but it was still low enough in the sky to make nice, long shadows.

Friday, April 1, 2011

finding quiet on a Florida morning

Clermont, Florida

Sitting in the Orlando airport, I am seeing my second Florida sunrise of the week.  The first was a couple of days ago - a nice, contemplative time of day as always.  We have just finished our last round as spring break softball fans in central Florida, watching our daughter's team play 9 games over the week that we were here.

We experienced the full complement of Florida weather -- scorching sun in cloudless skies for two days, followed by a stretch of on-again-off-again showers, and a grand finale of violent electrical storms with torrential sheets of rain and tornado warnings.  The only thing we didn't get to see was the tornado itself.

Not being in the steady habit of sunrise walking, I forgot to add an hour for daylight savings time to my sunrise chart.  I knew immediately when I walked outside at 6:10am that the dawn was not 10 minutes, but 70 minutes away - full darkness. 

It was an opportune error.  There was no rain, but the air was cool and moisture-laden, the kind of air that feels like a caress.  The darkness just before dawn is a gentle time in general.  Quiet streets, quiet people, quiet world.  It is increasingly rare to find quiet in our world.  Television screens invade every public space; beeps, buzzers, and audible alerts of an infinite variety create a perpetual background.  At pre-dawn they are at least diminished.  Our minds are allowed to think for themselves, uninterrupted for just a little while.

After a week in busy public spaces, inundated by sound, it will be nice to get back to a certain technology free back yard in the middle of Maine.