Watching mornings arrive brings optimism

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 21, 2006

Just off our bedroom there is a tiny nook, just big enough for two comfortable chairs separated by a small table – actually it’s an old school desk rescued from oblivion – that is usually piled high with books and magazines.

We call it the reading room, or, sometimes, the insomnia room. From the room’s lone window there is a view of the water, houses along the far shore, a mass of trees and the sky.

At night, you don’t see the houses, just the outdoor lights in yards or on docks. Without my glasses, those lights appear to be a cluster of tiny dots, as if someone had put up white Christmas tree lights.

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On the horizon above the ridge line there is the loom of light from the direction of Alexander City.

On a clear night, high above all of the man-made light, stars sparkle against the backdrop of endless space. There are far more of them than you can see in the city, and if you go outside and look directly up, you often can see the Milky Way.

The reading room is a good spot from which to watch the morning arrive, especially with that first cup of coffee.

The view is to the northwest, so you don’t see the sun pop above the horizon to declare a new day.

Instead, you get to watch the sun’s magic as it illuminates the landscape anew.

It is as if you are watching over an artist’s shoulder as he turns a sketch into a full blown painting. Parts of every morning are the same, but every one also is different.

The day starts in a flat monochrome, black and gray; there are dots of white from the outdoor lights. The shore is mirrored by the water, and everything is in soft focus. As the light gathers, the lights are switched off.

If it is clear, the change from a sketch to a completed canvas is accelerated. There is a band of blue sky above the ridge line, and the sun’s first rays draw a band of red above it. As the sun gets higher, the bands of color reverse position and then the blue spreads to cover the whole sky. The flat shapes on the shore take on depth and color. At this time of year, the greens of spring predominate.

But if it is cloudy or hazy, as it has been lately, the day develops more slowly.

There is no color in the sky, just a gray that is lighter than the darker foreground, like a pen and ink drawing covered with a gray wash. Watching the day slowly take on depth and dimension is like watching a photograph begin to emerge on paper in a tray in the darkroom.

Morning arrives too softly to be heard unless a window is open. People haven’t begun to stir much, but there is a train somewhere in the distance. Its sound is still more romantic than the rumble of cars and trucks or the whine of a jet airplane.

The birds come to life, chattering among themselves. By the time I come downstairs, they will be flocking around the feeder.

At night the vastness of the universe can be exalting. But there are nights, too, when only worries are vast and hopes seem small.

Some literature, movies and even moods are called dark for a reason.

In the unfolding morning, though, it is hard not to be an optimist.