This Morning’s Palette

We’re getting ready to do some home decorating in the near future, so we’ve been doing a lot of talking about color palettes and “vision boards” and other decorating-related concepts.

This morning I was greeted by a pre-sunrise scene that had what I considered to be a pretty compelling palette, with lightening shades of blue, a band of coral, warm reds and oranges, and a hint of the yellow to come. The gray clouds and the harbor water would be the “accent colors,” I guess. The only thing that is missing is those evocative paint store names for the colors, like “seashell gray” or “sunflower yellow.” In any case, it’s a palette that goes well together.

I’d love to get a look at Mother Nature’s “vision board” for today., but she is notoriously close to the vest about that.

Dawn Over The Tortolitas

When ended our visit to Marana, Arizona today with an early wake-up call and flight back to Columbus. As a result, we were treated to a pretty sunrise over the Tortolita Mountains as we began our journey.

Wikipedia describes the Tortolitas, with a haughty sniff of dismissal, as a “modest” mountain range. That may be true if you live in the Rockies or the Himalayas, but for Midwestern flatlanders like us any mountain range, modest or not, is a cause for wonder. When it is backlit by the crack of dawn, the sense of beauty and wonder is even greater.

Sunrise In Scopello

This Thursday morning I woke up early, trying to be as quiet as possible so as not to awaken the rest of our merry band of travelers. I fixed myself a cup of strong coffee, opened the door to the patio, and stepped outside to feel the pre-dawn coolness of the air and listen to the chirps and coos of the neighborhood birds. The sea was calm and the sun had just started to color the eastern horizon when I took this picture.

A Serene Sunrise

This morning I awoke as the first glimmers of the coming dawn penetrated the heavy curtains of our bedroom (4:56 a.m. to be precise) and enjoyed my first Stonington sunrise of 2022. As always, I was struck by the absolute, unearthly, ears searching for any hint of a sound quiet you find up here. The lack of any—and I mean any—background noise makes for quite a contrast with life in Columbus. The beautiful colors and the silence are a wonderful way to start the day.

No Enemy But Time

Yesterday the United States Senate voted unanimously to make Daylight Savings Time permanent. If you wondered whether our fractured political bodies could ever agree on anything significant, there’s your answer: in the Senate, at least, Democrats and Republicans alike share a common position on time itself.

Of course, “Daylight Savings Time” is an appealing, but ultimately misleading, name. “Springing ahead” doesn’t actually “save” any daylight, it just shifts it from the morning to the afternoon. There will still be the same amount of sunlight on the shortest days of the year; the only issue is when you want to to experience it. The Senate has cast its lot with the afternooner lobby, which has been making constant inroads on our “Standard time” period over the past few decades, leaving it shorter and shorter. If the House follows suit, and President Biden signs the legislation, the change to permanent DST will literally leave “morning people” in the dark for an hour longer during the winter months.

What would it mean, practically? Well, we wouldn’t have to fiddle with changing our clocks anymore. But if you live in Columbus, or anywhere else that is on the western edge of a time zone, you will experience exceptionally dark mornings during December and January. A Google search reveals that the sun rose in Columbus at 7:50 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, on December 21, 2021, the shortest day of the year–that is, the day with the least amount of sunlight. The shift to permanent DST would mean that the sunrise wouldn’t occur until 8:50 a.m. If you’re someone who’s got to clean snow or ice off your car to get to work, you’ll be doing it in the pre-dawn blackness, and it will feel colder.

The “daylight savings” versus “standard” time debate used to be a contentious one, with farmers, people working first shifts, other early risers, and people worried about kids going to school in the dark lining up on the standard time side. But the political winds have shifted, and we’ve become more of an end of day society that simply isn’t awake to enjoy those first rays of sunshine in the early morning Standard time hours. The fact that the Senate unanimously approved the change tells you all you need to know.

One Last Stonington Sunrise

I’m back in Columbus, after a happily uneventful travel day. It was weird to wake up in our German Village bedroom and not see a scene like the photo above, taken one morning earlier this week, right outside our bedroom window. So I’m going to indulge myself by posting this last sunrise picture before transitioning fully back to Midwest sights and sounds.

They say that people who live around physical beauty eventually become indifferent to it. So far that hasn’t happened with me and the sights presented by living somewhere with a view of water and sun. Maybe it’s because the harbor views still seem so novel after decades living in the landlocked Midwest, or maybe it’s because my time in Stonington is broken up by returns to Columbus, or maybe I just like sunrises that have lobster boats in the picture. I hope I never reach the point where I can pass by a striking sunrise without stopping to goggle at it, and looking forward to seeing more.

At The Midpoint

Well, we’re at the midpoint of our three-day Labor Day weekend. And with a beautiful sunrise this morning to spur us on, we are at the moment of decision. What should we do today, knowing that tomorrow is also a day off? Hiking? A long walk? Yard work? Grilling out? Reading? Watching football and savoring a cold beer?

That sounds a lot like exactly what we did yesterday—and it also sound like exactly what we should do today, too. That’s the beauty of the Labor Day weekend.

Burning Off The Fog

The last remnants of tropical storm Henri rolled through last night, dropping enormous quantities of rain that left large swathes of our down yard underwater. A thick fog followed the storm. The fog was so heavy this morning that you could look directly at the rising sun as it struggled to burn through the haze. I walked out onto the pebbled beach next to the mailboat dock, stepping carefully to avoid the discarded oyster and clam shells and feeling the cool touch of the water-drenched air, to take this evocative photograph.

It is mornings like this one that will make me miss Stonington when I return to Columbus next month.

Blue Skies, Again

After three solid days of rain, you wonder whether the blue skies will ever come again. And when they do, as they did with this morning’s sunrise shown above, it is a beautiful thing to see.

The sun rises early here in Stonington, on the far eastern edge of the Eastern time zone, which means there is a good/bad tradeoff on sunny versus rainy days. When the skies are clear, the first peek of sun over the horizon blasts through the heavy curtains of our east-facing bedroom and wakes me without fail. That means I get up earlier and earlier until we pass the longest day of the year. When it’s rainy and gloomy, in contrast, I can sleep later, and I don’t need to water the plants, either.

I’ll still take the sunny days.

Shades Of Gray

We had an interesting sunrise this morning. The sky was cloud-covered, but the clouds were thin enough to allow a fair amount of sunlight to illuminate the harbor. The diffuse sunlight left the water looking like hammered metal and cast all of the boats resting at anchor into shadow, thereby creating a landscape that, with a battleship gray dock in the foreground, covered pretty much every shade of gray in the gray rainbow–from pewter to slate, lead, flint, charcoal, dove, and every other shade of gray you can imagine.

It was a beautiful scene as I stood there at the edge of the expansive dock in the early morning stillness and quietly took in all of the awesome, overwhelming grayness. I like this picture of the scene very much, but even so it doesn’t fully capture the live moment.

The Crack Of Dawn

I’ve always been an early riser. Grandma Neal liked to say that I got up at “the crack of dawn.” This morning’s stunning sunrise reminded me of that favorite phrase, because it looked like a crack in the sky, with light beaming in through the break and spreading over the sleepy town and boats at anchor in the harbor.

Sunrises like this are best enjoyed with a cup of hot coffee, and make getting up at the crack of dawn worth every lost minute of sleep.

The Morning View From Ocean Drive

Ocean Drive is a short stretch of road that splits off from Allen Street and then hugs the shoreline as it runs down to Greenhead Lobster.  At that fork in the road there is a manhole cover — specifically, manhole cover #123, which we know because all Stonington manhole covers bear green, neatly spray-painted identification numbers.  When the lobstermen who moor their boats in the western edge of the Stonington harbor drive to Greenhead to park their pickup trucks and take their skiffs out to their big boats in the morning, they hit old #123 as they veer onto Ocean Drive and make a distinctive “clink CLUNK” sound as the manhole cover rattles under the weight of the passing trucks.  Most mornings, that clink CLUNK is the first sound I hear.

Ocean Drive is a bit of a misnomer, because the Atlantic Ocean is still several miles away, shielded from the harbor by many islands.  But it’s not hard to imagine that, as the lobstermen turn left at the Ocean Drive split, give #123 a good rattle, smell the salt air, and catch the sunrise view shown above in the morning, it helps them get mentally ready for another hard day of lobstering.

Red Sky In Morning . . . .

My grandmother had a poetic saying for every occasion.  UJ and I spent a lot of time with her during our childhood, and heard every one of her sayings multiple times.  They’ve become part of my permanent mental landscape and simply pop into my head, unbidden, from time to time.

Like when I saw this morning’s sunrise, shown above, with its striking red sky.  It immediately made me think of one of Grandma’s weather-related favorites:

Red sky at night, sailors’ delight,

Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.

To my knowledge Grandma never lived in a coastal community.  She didn’t have any close friends or relatives who were mariners, and I don’t remember her telling us any stories about receiving instruction from a grizzled sailor about his rules of thumb on the weather.  She may have been on a boat once in a while on her travels, but being on the open water wasn’t a regular part of her life in land-locked Akron, Ohio. 

Nevertheless, as a kid I believed that Grandma knew what she was talking about.  But these days I’m not so sure.  This morning the lobster fleet chugged out of port as it always does, without batting an eye about that red sunrise.  And my weather app indicates its going to be sunny today, with a high in the mid-70s.  Could Grandma have been wrong?

Or maybe the warning to sailors was about sunburns.

The 5 O’Clock Wake Up Call

There are a number of reasons why you would wake up at 5 a.m. on a Wednesday morning in Stonington:

(1)  It was warmer than normal last night, so you slept with the windows wide open to get some of that cool seaside air;

(2)  At 5 a.m., the pick-up trucks carrying the sternmen are racing to the piers, and some of the early moving captains have their lobster boats revved up and moving out to the open water;

(3)  With the sun peeking over the eastern horizon, the birds decide it’s a good time to call out to each other to make sure that all of the other birds in the neighborhood made it through the night okay; and

(4)  When you get up to shut the windows and look outside, you see a sunrise that looks like a painting and you decide the better course would be to enjoy it for a while.