Thursday, December 7, 2023
When I got up this morning the sun had not yet risen over the mountains across the bay. I knew where the sun would appear because we are close to the shortest day of the year and there are two notches on the rightmost side of Sergeant Mountain where on December 20th the sun will appear in the farthest notch to the right marking the apex of its travel.
I was hoping for a green flash, which can occur if the sightline to the horizon is smooth and there are no clouds in the way. I knew that in February when the sun rises over Cadillac Mountain where there are smooth rock and few trees you can get a green flash. In the wintertime there is no humidity so the green light is like a laser, burning bright for that instant and then it’s gone. I sat with my father one February and we waited every morning hoping to see it. We saw it once. It burns in your memory.
I saw no flash this morning but what I did see were wisps of vapor rising off the ocean. They moved in undulating rows, as if fans at a football game – one row moving left another right. It reminded me of Joyce Kilmer, whom many think is a woman but was actually a poet from New Jersey who wrote the poem “Trees”.
I think I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.
Those are the opening two lines. It’s a simple poem, only six two line verses long. But like the wisps of water I am watching it speaks volumes. The wisps have now circulated in a flat vortex and I can see long tendrils trying to grasp the distant island. Brief light winds move the wisps like a shepherd’s dog herding.
There’s a beauty in the simplicity of what I am watching. The sun has disappeared behind the clouds and its light is forming a bright band beneath the larger more somber clouds. Ducks have appeared swimming close to shore. Where do they go at night? And where did they come from? They break the quiet silence with their ducky grumble chortling, and move on.
There is magic in the air and I have seen it.