It’s nearly seven a.m. and the sunlight has just reached the tops of the trees behind the Temple. The nourishing yellow illumination will now perform the miraculous feat of climbing down all the trees simultaneously. Reaching the ground here at 1030 Pleasant Street, it will continue running westward across the state—skimming across the Connecticut River, before racing through the multi-colored trees of the late September Berkshire Mountains.
Then on to the Hudson River and the Finger Lakes of New York. The Great Lakes and the Great Plains will be next. Then the sun’s first rays of warmth will slip through the Rockies – traversing the high peaks and the isolated valleys with ease. Finally, in three hours or so, the first rays will seep into the house of my friend William, a former hippie carpenter, on the western shores of Tomales Bay, just north of San Francisco.
I haven’t seen William in years, but he is a gentle man with a crooked grin and a boyish enthusiasm for the whole world. He’s been active in the men’s movement for years so he gives wonderful hugs and looks straight into your eyes when he listens to you.
I stayed at his house several years ago and felt very Californian as I used the hot tub on the back of his deck. He built his house in the country in the seventies and now it’s worth a fortune. But it retains the comfort of that old hippie feeling. One morning I was there, he offered me some kind of health shake that took me back to the ‘tiger’s milk’ a college friend used to drink every morning: raw egg, brewer’s yeast, molasses, whole milk, and a the sweepings from the kitchen floor from the night before (though I may be wrong about this last ingredient, I’m just going by the memory of the taste).
After William’s house, there’s only about five miles to the cliffs at the tip of Point Reyes – the westernmost part of the continental US. He once took me there. We watched the whales swim by – huge dark presences seen in the water – moving leisurely southward. They swim about four or five miles per hour twenty-four hours a day. Traveling from their summer feeding grounds off the coast of Alaska to their winter breeding grounds in the lagoons of Baja Mexico in fifty-five days. An amazing journey of necessity, yet these dark and silent water beings exhibit no haste as they glide through the blue waters below us.
But it was the ravens that most delighted me at Point Reyes. They flew in pairs, playing on the updrafts by the cliffs. Like unhinged ballet dancers they dipped and soared – weightless and graceful – seemingly anticipating each others’ movements – loops and spins – circles within circles. I could have watched forever.
Will the sun wake the ravens this morning? Their nests, on the west facing cliffs will be the last bits of the continental US to be touched by the sun today. Maybe not for six or seven hours will the sun travel far enough to touch their black heads—though I suppose by then they will be long gone from the nest.
And from there it’s the vast Pacific, then Asia, Europe, the Atlantic and finally back here in time for tomorrow’s sunrise where the yellow beams will once again touch the tops of the maples behind the Temple before they climbing down to offer their packets of photo energy to the new grass I planted last week in the back yard.