In the Great Bear every dawn is an epoch. Time can seem immeasurably slow in the mornings, while light only begins to give form to a world that never ceases. Out of the night a mountainous horizon begins to form, obscure shapes with soft, rolling contours. In some transcendental way they remind me of slumbering giants. I feel boyish again, an exuberance for the unknown. Stretching my legs and arms through some resemblance of routine, I watch the first signs of vermilion slice across the sky until it forms a thin, unbroken band for 180’. The very process of my morning ritual allows me to feel what it means to be human; to go through some conceptual yet arbitrary cycle in the face of something so inexplicable.
I can breathe the cold, clean air deeply. My lungs are light, powerful. Arms fully extended, muscles and ligaments contracting, everything becomes visceral. It’s much more mental than what my overworked body feels; it’s an enthusiasm for what the light is doing, the shapes that are forming, the unknown image being presented however many times it seems it has before; it’s a genuine anticipation for the new day.
A thrush welcomes the beginning of nautical twilight, its call the sound of a drop of water. The ridges directly East rise nearly 5,000 feet from an intertidal mosaic of ocean. As their peaks take on a brilliant alpenglow, I can see that the snowline has dramatically lowered, violent gales blowing fresh, white spindrift around and off the mountains. The effect is eloquent, the light diffused or reiterated through an ethereal moment; it inspires questions that feel as radiant as life itself, and as many answers that appear meaningless—indeed, trivial—in the presence of these moments.
What I recognize as the most increasingly invasive force that falls into these mornings, if not entirely obliterating them, is that someone in a faraway place—entirely devoid of aesthetics, land-ethics, or even basic, fundamental human aspirations—feels entitled to change my mornings.