Up at four again today: a good thing. Wandering in my yard, led by my steaming cup of sweet, strong coffee, and followed by my sleepy-headed golden retriever, I'm savoring the moist air. Last night's snow wraps white around tree limbs, shrubs, and grass. The quiet is precious. Only delivery people are out and about this early. Automobiles are wanting to stay put for awhile longer, a blessing.
Sometimes I wish that dawn could last all day. The quiet, the soft colors, the solitude make this so special. I also like the sense of anticipation that greets me. It's an assurance that something really wonderful could happen today, that I could make a big difference in someone's life today, that another miracle may be about to unfold. Annie Dillard's quote snapshots it for me: "Each day is a god." The sacred prevails at dawn.
The Romans understood this, giving the guardianship of dawn to Aurora. This rosy-fingered goddess renews herself every morning and flies across the sky in saffron robes to announce the arrival of the sun. Wouldn't that be the best job? Gotta go to work...gotta let folks know our light source, our life source is on its way!
Dawn, I've learned, is different from sunrise and there are different kinds of dawn. The earliest is astronomical dawn when the sky is no longer dark and the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon. A little while later, nautical dawn arrives, bringing enough light to see the horizon and some objects. The sun is, at this point, 12 degrees below the horizon. When the sun has moved another 6 degrees, civil dawn is reached and there is enough light to see objects and do things outside.
My dog and I often run when it's just barely light, just between nautical dawn and civil dawn. It's especially pleasant to do that when snow is in the neighborhood, because the sky is light and the ground is light and objects are clearly visible earlier.
I'm glad that Aurora is one of my buds. I like being able to share that exciting stretch of day when the planet rolls from night's deep into full light. I like being able to approach another day with the rosy-fingered, saffron-draped goddess racing across the sky!