The day dawned purple with just a crack of light at the horizon. I see this effect sometimes when rain clouds approach from the west just as the sun begins to push skyward in the east. Past experience has taught me that sometimes such sunrises are spectacular, so I grabbed my camera and stood in the mild air on my back deck to await developments. As I waited, a soft breeze from the west ruffled brown leaves still clinging to trees, killed before they could color by an early hard freeze.

As I had hoped, a hint of pink joined the purple and pale peach painting the backdrop behind trees. A few birds murmured softly, stirred to conversation by rising light.

The crack of light along the horizon widened, leading me to hope perhaps sun would win over promised rain showers. Before I saw it, I heard a deer splash across the creek, then gallop across the dim floodplain.

Brighter pinks began to signal the sun’s approach to the horizon.

Trees bared for winter glowed in firelight colors as the rising sun transformed midnight purples to pale lavenders.

Almost above the horizon, sky fire reflected in creek waters below. Red-winged blackbirds resumed their daily harvesting of tiny seeds from thousands of sweet gum balls dangling from a canopy giant. In dawn’s quiet, I could hear their quiet conversations amid the gentle pitter-patter of seeds landing on dry leaves below, where a flock of mourning doves waited to gobble blackbird-released sweet gum bounty.

About a half hour later, I walked out front for a moment. Bright sun dazzled my eyes as fast-approaching western clouds squeezed sunlight into rays spotlighting my quiet woodland. A flock of robins was back at work in a large southern magnolia, making sure they hadn’t missed any succulent scarlet fruits clinging from cones by silken threads.

High above, a flock of seagulls flew in ragged vee formation heading north on their daily commute. Mostly herring gulls, thousands winter well inland from the coast on a man-made lake a few miles to my southeast. The still-rising sun illuminated their bodies from below, transforming them into silent angels winging to their breakfast grounds — large shopping malls closer to nearby cities, where thoughtless humans litter parking lots with discarded purchases from food courts and restaurants.

Pileated woodpeckers began their morning calls amid vigorous drumming. White-throated sparrows whistled melancholy melodies.

As I stood enjoying songs and soft colors, gentle rain began falling even as the sun still fought for dominance. I heard drops rattling dry leaves before I felt them. Two breaths later, the sun lost its battle as rapidly moving rain clouds overran the eastern horizon.

The early bird may get the worm, but the early riser gains a sunrise saga beautiful beyond words and photos — and a reminder to savor the fleeting moments of constant change.

  1. #1 by rosegraham1889 on November 22, 2019 - 3:07 pm

    Lovely reflections on sunrise in the country! I’m glad to know that birds enjoy the Sweet gum ball seeds. I wish they would eat them all since I don’t need any more Sweet gum Trees in my yard.

    • #2 by piedmontgardener on November 22, 2019 - 4:35 pm

      Thank you, Rose. Our native sweet gums evolved to be early colonizers of fallow fields and other open spaces, so they can be assertive. However, I find the seedlings easy to pull up from damp ground, and knowing how very many bird species rely on those seeds is enough reason to keep them in my yard. Nothing beats watching flocks of cedar waxwings hanging upside down working at seed balls as they sing their high whistling tunes. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. #3 by Donna Deal on November 24, 2019 - 8:50 am

    Beautifully written! I was with you as the morning unfolded with all the precious nature you described. I have recently moved to the country to have sky! It has been a long time dream. I miss my morning sunrises through the trees, and all the nature that accompanied them, but loving the moon and stars. Nature is here, of course, but not blanketing me like it used to.

    • #4 by piedmontgardener on November 24, 2019 - 9:22 am

      Thanks, Donna. It’s always great to hear from you. Congratulations on your transition to country life. Some day we must try to meet for lunch so I can hear all about your new place. Thanks for stopping by!

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