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.

12 thoughts on “Walking Toward the Sun

  1. I love being out in the early morning when everything is still waking – but as my walk is usually after work, I tend to start out into the wind so that I can have the long stretch along the beach without sand in my face! Very practical, that’s me.
    And now Pete’s comment has me pondering ants feet getting worn down, poor wee things – they do a lot of mileage for their size.

  2. I wish I could take a walk with you, too, Quinn. I’d also like to take a walk with Pete–or, maybe, all three of us together. Think of the ensuing conversations! Hmmmm.

  3. Many things, like your shoes, wear down. That’s a characteristic of inhabiting the world at our scale. If we were able to directly perceive much smaller things and effects, which here I’m implying might be associated with being much smaller, the rest of what’s happening would be evident too. Your shoes are slowly evaporating and transferring matter to the surrounding environment. As your shoes get thinner, your path gets thicker. This happens with many things — I have a couple machines in my basement whose function is to speed up the transfer of matter out of my clothing. The first machine uses an agitated solution of water to do this, and the second uses agitation and heated gas, primarily nitrogen. The water-based process is more efficient, as I have to manually remove the separated clothing material from the venting system of the second. But they work pretty well at making what I wear thinner.

    If we could better perceive this as a “whole process” instead of focusing on the effect on only one component, whether shoes or clothes or, for that matter, gears or tires or the like, I think we would engineer things differently. There isn’t any particular reason, after all, why driving a car shouldn’t help maintain roads instead of just wearing down tires and brakes and leaving a thin film of fairly nasty dust all over the place. Same for shoes; they could be made to improve the path, or possibly the path and the shoes could improve each other. It’s just that nobody thought about “a system consisting of a supporting surface and a movable transport”. The supporting surface was just a given.

    Thinking is getting there, though. A system can be self-regenerating or “self-healing” in many cases, and the way to get to that is often to widen the focus of the design. Here’s an example of where that kind of approach is bearing fruit. http://www.nature.com/nchem/journal/v2/n11/full/nchem.822.html

    (oops, you have to pay to read the whole thing, sorry — the abstract has the key pieces.)

  4. Great and inspiring to read your blogpost and especially the last sentence……it touched me, thanks for sharing, warm greet Miranda

  5. Sounds wonderful! I would love to take a walk with you 🙂 It would be interesting to see sunrise and sunset in an arid landscape. People who have been to Sahara say that the colours of the sand are unbelievable.

    Interesting, BTW, how similar are the English words ‘desert’ and ‘dessert’. 😉 Nothing special to it, I am sure, but just funny in a brain tickling way.

    • You would love the unfolding sunrise in the winter, Kaisa, and the rich red sunsets we get most winter nights. Because I live in a city, there isn’t much empty land, but we have a number of mountains within the city and surrounding us that give magnificent views. Children here learn that “dessert” has 2 s’s because you can never have enough sweets. It is a funny difference, particularly since the pronunciation is different.

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