Early Saturday morning I was out on the Adams County gravel roads in my old Ford pickup truck, tearing up the miles bringing news to rural folks.
I like the weekends, even though the early-morning hours are stressful and I have to struggle to stay awake. Coffee helps, as do music and fabulation. It’s also a privilege to be a witness to a couple of sunrises every week. How many do you see? Henry Thoreau once jokingly wrote that he should be a paid county official, with an official title: Inspector Of Snowstorms. I’m the local Inspector Of Sunrises, at least on the weekends; I assume Adams County has someone else watching for cool weekday sunrises. If not, what a shame!
The roads I travel are in uplands and lowlands. I pay close attention, as dawn nears, when I’m on an upland stretch with a generous view of the eastern horizon.
The clouds looked favorable as I tooled down 800th St. The sun’s rays were favored and amplified by my friend Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who spends a few mornings every year exercising her rosy fingers here in the Midwest hinterlands. I got to know that deity many years ago; we made a deal: she’ll show me her works if I respond appropriately with improvised fiddle tunes.
As the pre-dawn sky display evolved I recognized one of Eos’s favorite motifs these days. She likes to work jet contrails into her one-off designs.
I liked that! As I drove I waited for the next phase of the design:
Notice how in that photo I captured both a farm-house light and a blinking TV tower light. One-second exposure with the camera steadied on the top of a sleeping customer’s mailbox.
The sun continued its inexorable rise (really the planet sinking) as I drove. It gratifies me to have images stored on the camera’s chip, a treat to sample once I get home and upload the files onto my computer.
The sunrise, I could tell, wasn’t going to develop into one of those occasional mind-blowers. I said to myself, “Well, I probably won’t take any more photos.”
It was a fairly warm morning, unusual for this time of year. My window was open and I had my forearm draped on the top of the opening. Suddenly a winged form flapped into the truck. I was startled; I looked to my right and saw a winged humanoid form, about the size of a Great Horned Owl, perched on the back of the seat next to me.
The winged creature had the form of a woman, though with wings arching from her back. The wing feathers were curiously mottled in shades of red and yellow and the creature wore flowing robes colored similarly.
“Hi, Eos — good to see you again!”
“How’d you like that predawn segment? I worked hard on that, and I even had some nice contrails to work with.”
“It was good, Eos — understated but masterful. I shot some photos.”
“I saw you driving along from on high — You were shooting some photos and I thought I’d fly down to see what you think. Nobody else was watching!”
“A good predawn sequence, but it seems like it fizzled out after that! I know you did your best!”
“Oh, it’s so hard sometimes, Larry! The clouds are hard to manage — it’s like herding cats — and that stupid Earth of yours is so set in its ways! If I could convince that stolid planet to let me slow or speed up the rotation during a dawn it would make things so much easier! That big hunk of iron and rock has been doing that rotation thing for entirely too long!”
“Well, like any artist, you have to work with the tools and materials you have available. A dozen splendid sunrises in a year is pretty good for this part of the country!”
The goddess peered out the windshield at the fading sunrise. She said:
“Now that isn’t too bad! Look at the juxtaposition of reds and blues! Why don’t you stop and take some more photos?”
“Oh, Eos, it’s not that good!”
“Please, Larry! I’ll bet if you crop the photo you could get something nice to show your slug-a-bed readers!”
“Well, okay…” It’s difficult to resist the entreaties of a goddess, however minor.
Eos said, “Thank you, Larry! I need to get to a meeting. I’m pleading my case today. I want to be able to do more artistic things with my sunrises. I’ve been thinking of a geometrical approach — maybe some Mondrian sunrises, and I’d love to do some Escher-like patterns! They’ve been resisting — damned traditionalists!”
“Just who are ‘they’?”
“Oh, I really can’t tell you, Larry! They would put me to work at the icicle lathes, a boring job I loathe! Hey, I gotta go!”
The deity flew out of the truck’s window and off into the distance. The sun was well up, and I finished my route and drove back to Quincy. I always enjoy talking with minor deities!