Walking Toward the Sun

first-lightEach season has a purpose and rituals. The joy of valuing  something because it is fleeting has a special joy for me. I’ve never understood the reason for year-round Christmas stores. It takes away the magic, because magic cannot be sustained year-round. What makes it magic is the absence of magic at other times.

Rituals are always interesting to me. In summer, my early-morning walk is away from the sun, so the rising sun doesn’t hit my eyes. At the half-way point, I turn a corner, and walk toward the sun, which is now high enough so that a wide-brimmed hat needs just a slight tilt to shade my eyes and nose from the clouds1heat and glare.

Walking away from the sun means that I am walking toward the retreating dark. It’s fascinating, seeing the stars still on the horizon, seeing a shadow pushing long in front of me, knowing the scorching summer sun is at my heels.

Now it is winter. I walk toward the sun, because almost the first half of my walk is in the silhouetted dark of first light. First the palm trees become outlined against a slightly lighter sky, still spangled with stars. Then a surprisingly even band around the horizon turns a shade of turquoise I’ve never seen anyplace else. The birds wake up and begin to tune up.

The trees and buildings I saw all summer long flow past backwards–first the asphalt parking lots, then the school, still dark, then the park. In summer the school is early in the walk, quiet, but somehow holding the energy of racing children. The park in summer struggles to stay alive.  Sprinklers shoot  arcs of water over the trees. Now the grass is green, stretching out in the mild days, inching toward the trees at its own pace.

When the sun begins to rise, you can see the clouds, first dark, then red-bellied and shrinking, vanishing into a sky that is gray, then pale, then a blue so clear you could ring a bell on it. And I walk under it all, five miles wearing down my shoes.

Quinn McDonald walks every morning, happy that her soul has been reconnected to her body.