The Reality of Watching a Sunrise
We located the lamp switches, untucked our bedsheets by kicking at them with our feet, and set our phone alarms for 6 a.m. This is when the sun was predicted to rise in Idaho. While we are not normally sunrise people, in a place surrounded by ancient pine trees and clear waters, it seemed like a chance to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,” as Thoreau would say.
That morning, we pulled on sweaters, slipped on shoes, and poured ourselves hot cups of coffee in the dark. The rest of my family was asleep in our shared cabin on Priest Lake. On the gravel path, Evan and I walked softly and held hands. The morning shivered with life, and the boat dock seemed like a great place to watch the sunrise. So we trekked out to the very end, causing the dock to creek and sway, splashing coffee down our hands.
The dock was wet with dew and the boats blocked our view, so we decided to find another place to sit. On Priest Lake there are plastic, red chairs lining the shores of every beach. We found a couple to sit in with our now cold cups of coffee, surprised that the sun still hadn’t made an appearance. We shivered in our sandaled feet. Evan gave up on his coffee, tossing it into the air. It took the sun thirty more minutes to show itself over the mountains, and when it did, it was so bright that we couldn’t look directly at the sky. So instead, we watched the fog roll off the water, laughing at what seemed like a colossal failure to find inspiration in nature.
But the next morning, we did it again, knowing deep down in our marrow-filled bones that it was worth it. This time, we built a fire in a pit down by the water. I woke up two sleepy nephews who were eager to join us the night before, and handed them each a cup of coffee filled with plenty of cream and sugar, so they couldn’t taste it, but they could still feel like adults. We walked down to where Evan was stoking our morning fire, which was deep orange and crackling. The boys poked at it with sticks, yawning. Evan drank his coffee in silence. The contented kind. The kind that watches the clouds roll back from the mountains to reveal the sun and its bright yellow reflection on the water, and leans back a little, as if to make room for the light.
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