Friday, December 28, 2012

Sunrise, Sunset

We were early on the road putting us in position, that chilly December morning in eastern Minnesota, to see an extraordinary sunrise. 

A farm silo still in shadow accentuated the brightness of the merry dawn breaking behind it. 

The first rays above the horizon would soon waken the countryside through which we drove. We owned the highway. It was all so very quiet.

The painted sky wasn't having any of that. It wanted eager life. It was here to announce the day as the snowy fields, and our car's headlights, waited for darkness to peel entirely away.

The sunrise was a dance of promise to the new day. It was a shout of exultation. If it had a voice this sunrise would sing.
It was a far-reaching country dawn. There was nothing to block the view. There weren't big hills or buildings or any obstructions to distract the dazzle of the sky on fire. It stretched out before us.

This sunrise had no intention of being a modest entry upon the morning scene. There was a showy vigor to it. Theater, stage and wildly approving applause were fairly within its expectations.

We've been in on many lovely sunrises. We're ones who see each sunrise as new and beautiful. This sunrise, without drawing comparisons with any other, had emphatic coloring. We commented on it.

The colors borrowed from each other and struck off bolder versions. The sky was saturated with color. It seeped into wider areas banishing at last the paling night sky.

I searched for a word to convey the impact of its color. Various choices to describe the sunrise were discarded each in turn. 

I was still working my adjectives when we came to a bridge sign at a snow-banked river. The sign identified the river as the Vermillion River. It's a river familiar to us.

"Thank you sign!" I'm sure I said aloud. Seldom has a word come with such easy timing. 

Right as needed the road sign provided the perfect word to describe the color effect of the magnificent sunrise.

I could imagine some native American, early surveyor or pioneer farmer on this same spot taking in their own vermillion sunrise.

It made sense, in that pause to consider those before us at the scene, that the sunrise color would not go unnoticed in giving a name to the prairie river.

In seasons of open water it's my assumption that the Vermillion River reflects sunrise on its rippled surface. Sky joins water as natural elements become one with the other.

The real origin of the name (as recalled from some previous reading) derives from the colored rock of the area. 

I'm content, however, to support my sunrise theory as the one that matters. No one could think differently after a sunrise like that.
The fields by now were rosied by sunrise. Hay bales neatly aligned in rows behind fences had snow adhering to them. The snow made the bales look like iced Shredded Wheat biscuits I couldn't help pointing out. 

They could have been on a cereal box or poured in heaping amounts into a cereal bowl is what came to me. 

The entire moment was pretty with sunrise. It was rosy and rural with a peace that serves as a feast partaken way too seldom to those beset by life's hurry.  

Happenstance, or pure luck as you might phrase it, gives us these chance encounters to connect with nature. These moments stick with us like the snow thick on the hay bales.

Sunset on the prairie outdid the day's beginning. In every detail it was an Imax sunset filling the screen. 

The sky glowed for as far as you could see. In the Midwest this can be a very long way. Distance, which can frighten when you stand alone, can give a sense of awe when sky has no seeming limit.

A white-painted old farm house and adjacent barn, along with a stand of tall spruce trees on one side, and a small thicket on the other, the sort of grove so common to our disappearing farmsteads, were silhousetted against the sky, which stayed luminous well after sunset. 

Then, in the darkness, we picked up the generous scattering of stars. They looked pieced into one grand design on the indigo blanket of night.

Ro Giencke - December 28, 2012

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