5:56 A.M. Now that we’re sliding into March, the sun is coming up earlier and setting later. Those extra hours of daylight are encouraging the buds on the lilac near my door to swell despite the fact that the eves still drip with an occasional icicle. This morning when I woke, the moon hung in the sky like a diamond pendant. It glittered in the cold, casting long purple shadows across the snow and making yesterday’s icicles shimmer. Along the horizon, the sky was pale, bleached yellow. A low gray cloud lay motionless above the line of trees like a huge, stratocumulus whale basking in the sky.
6:05 A.M. The darkness thins as the part of the earth I stand on turns toward the sun. Dawn always reminds me that nothing is as it seems. It would appear that the sun rises over a flat horizon when, in reality, I am held fast to the surface of a rotating ball that rolls around toward the light. That thought has given me the willies since second grade, when my teacher tried to explain the planets to me. Before I knew about outer space and gravity, I was safe in the center of two bowls, one right side up and filled with earth, the other fitted upside down over me, it’s vaulted insides painted blue. A light switch turned day into night, the blue replaced by a black velvet cloth scattered with stars and a clear, round moon.
6:25 A.M. Sunrise is minutes away and the sky above the horizon has lightened considerably. The cloud has lengthened and its undersides are bathed in crimson. Only minutes ago the moon gleamed behind the trees, but it lies closer to the horizon now and its influence is dimmed by the rising light. I walk from window to window with my mug of tea, sipping and watching the day being born. There is a hush that descends just before the sun actually appears. It is more noticeable in the summer when the birds pause in their early morning serenade long enough for the sun to peek over the edge of the earth. At this time of year, the stillness is more a thing felt than heard. The cloud is bathed in scarlet. Its top turns a deep purple and then suddenly it is pure white, an everyday, ordinary cloud. Through the blaze of color a jet streak turns silver.
6:30 A.M. The great ball of orangey fire looks huge as it rises over the horizon. Moments later it is riding above the trees, yellow as the center of a daisy and no bigger than it ought to be. It is impossible to look at straight on. My eyes see little yellow dots everywhere I look. Sunlight streams through the windows and spills onto the floor. It pierces the sun catcher above the sink and scatters rainbows across my slippered feet.
It’s as though I’ve just watched a theater being readied. The curtains are tied back, the lights are up, and the music has begun. All that I need do is walk onto center stage and begin the day.