Catch a Sunrise

by Elizabeth deGraw Renna

Catch, verb– To discover or come upon unexpectedly or accidentally

– To intercept or overtake

– To get to in time

– To become or cause to become held, entangled, or fastened

The sun is shifting in the sky, away from its winter-low hang toward the south, coming back towards the high middle part of the sky. The days are getting noticeably longer, seemingly all of a sudden, a sign of spring and the summer to come. The recent Daylight Savings Time change probably helps that impression, causing it to be lighter in the evening, longer than it used to be. The time change has one specific benefit that I appreciate: I can catch more sunrises on my way to work.

One morning last week as I stopped at the first red light on my usual route to work, I turned my head to look out my side window and experienced one of those unexpected moments of surprise and quiet amazement. The eastern sky at the horizon, visible to me through the silhouettes of a few bare trees, was glowing, a mix, in that moment, of deep purples and roses, enhanced by just-right clouds serving as the sun’s canvas to catch the light. My timing was perfect. I had caught the sunrise that morning.

We’re entering a favorite time of the year, where my drive to work coincides with the rising of the sun. It happens every spring and fall and the daylight savings trick, dreamed up by someone, gives me a second set of chances in both seasons.

When my light turned green, I turned my car left, toward that amazing sky. Changing positions gave me a new view and I discovered that the brightest portion of the sky, where the sun would soon emerge, was located perfectly between the trees on either side of a street which angled off in the near distance.

Deep breath of appreciation.

I slowed my car down, gazing and soaking in the rich colors, knowing that there was a red light just ahead AND that no one was behind me to become anxious or antsy at my slow pace. My route takes me eastward for about a mile before turning me south for a mile or so and then I get to head east again, so I continued to check the sky from the different angles that my route allowed.

Have you noticed how quickly the sky changes when the sun is rising or setting? And how dependent a sunrise or sunset is on clouds for catching the changing light and color and adding to the transitory drama, or to the sometimes boring nature of the sky? In one moment the clouds and sky are glowing and intensely colored. Three or five minutes later, they’re just clouds, gray or white, showing no evidence of the recent color show.

As I approached that turn-me-south curve in the road I wondered, “Will I miss the rest of this sunrise? How quickly will it change, with these deep rich colors becoming paler as the brilliance of the sun washes them out? I like THIS moment and want to keep enjoying it.”

So I decided to see how long it would take me to go south and then turn eastward again. And I decided to see how much the sky changed in those moments when I was unable to see it. I got lucky that morning and hit all the green lights. In just under two minutes I could see the sunrise sky again. It was still glowing but the colors had altered with very little purple or rose visible anymore, replaced by a deep yellow-orange.

In a spontaneous moment, I decided to pull into a nearby parking lot and watch the sky for a few minutes, to see if I could capture the changes. It was a brief pause.

I had caught the day’s amazing sunrise, driving to work at the perfect moment. It had caught my attention AND caught me a bit by surprise as well. It held me, as well, captivating me with rich, deep colors and a promising glow. I had also caught up with the sunrise, missing only a couple minutes of subtle changes but not being out of view for so long that it was completely done being a stunning display of color.

I caught a sunrise and it caught me; what a wonderful way to start the day.