Ten Thousand Sunrises

I took this picture as our rowing team, the Gray Buzzards, was preparing to take off on our usual 5:45 AM row, this time out of Padanaram Harbor in South Dartmouth. Being on the water this time of day, with the sun creeping up over the eastern sky and the (typically) prevailing gentle morning sea breeze, …almost everything you see, hear and smell at this time of day nourishes and feeds the senses. This day was no exception.

Only minutes before, the sun wasn’t up yet. And because I had just literally walked the length of the dock while setting up our boat at the other end, the seagull wasn’t there either.  I had barely unloaded some of our rowing gear from the back of my van when I turned and noticed the rising sun. There it was….the sun, the seagull, and the silhouetted dock and pilings in all their glory before the rising sun. I dropped everything, grabbed my camera, got the shot and then it hit me…..

…Twenty seven years ago I took a similar shot (on right) on this very same dock at almost the same time of day. I was shooting at sunrise through a foggy mist, and as you can see, I had a seagull in my viewfinder that time, too! It was with an older model film camera, which was not only well before the birth digital cameras, it was even before the Internet as we know of it today.

Knowing all the joys and changes and sorrows, both in terms of personal life experiences, and those that have affected my community, my country and our world during this time, caused me some pause. A lot of life (if we’re lucky!) unfolds in twenty-seven years. Then, Betty Ann and I were parenting three children all under ten years of age. Today we’re grandparents of five young children! I’m older, wider, a bit wrinkly, but at least hair doesn’t get in my eyes the way it used to.

Still, I am here and (usually) fully present, and with the help of a little Motrin now and then, (okay, regularly) most of the moving parts still do what they’re supposed to do. And on this day, the gift I’m given, to be here now, to row in the good company of five other guys, on the water, in mid June on the dawn of a new day is a treasure and blessing for which I am grateful.

Twenty-seven years. That’s pretty darn close to ten thousand sunrises between those two photos. And as our team gets under way and shoves off from the dock, another seagull working in the shallows nearby flips loose a quahog, flies up a bit and drops his breakfast on the rocks below. The distant “crack” of shell hitting stone reminds me that I’m lucky to hear it and that it’s also twenty-seven years of staying our of the obituaries.

So the dawn unfolds into day as our row continues. The rhythm of life and color and form shout “hello” and will not be denied nor broken. And for me there is a quiet comfort in all this.

Six men. One boat. And having felt our way into one more day and counting, we finish our row and part into the day we have been given.