A sunrise and sunset have one thing in common, nobody watches them anymore. We are too busy. Can you remember the last time you watched the sun crank itself into the sky and bring light to the world, or slip behind the horizon in a prism of color? I have seen sunrises and sunsets all over the world, and each one is different.
In Nazareth I hiked Mt Sinai, crossing a highway now cleaving the mountain in two. We wove a drunken path up the mountain, cutting back and forth in big half circles. The sun rose on the way up, exposing patches of wild green grass and clay earth underfoot. Finally summitting, we were greeted with a partly cloudy day. But the sun persevered by shooting rays through holes in the clouds. The sun’s power could not be stopped even by a cloudy day.
In Paros, Greece there was a fisherman leaning against a white, metal railing. His forearms supported his body on the railing and his shoulder blades pushed out the back of him. His body made a triangle with the pier and railing. The sky was watery, crying from the heat of sunset. The man sat with the line of his fishing pole slipping through the air and hidden beneath the water. He was watching the sunset, not his pole. Catching fish was not his objective, experiencing beauty was.
I could feel the heat but not see the sun. The streets of Tangier are bustling, but I am oblivious to it all. The black out metal grates on the windows keep out the light.
I arise thinking it is seven when it is already nine. I cannot tell time without the sun, or grasp even an estimate. There is only darkness in the room. We live by the sun, are guided by it and live our lives around it.
The highest point in Germany looks like a curved raptor claw rising out of the ground. The tip is pointed and turns a brilliant orange, pink color when dusk arrives. The sun is already gone, but if you raise your head to the heavens you see the colored peak reflecting the sun.
Alpenglow is a phenomenon where the sun, which has already set behind the mountains, reflects light on the opposite mountains. Since the sun has no direct line to the mountains particles in the air actually reflect light on to the mountains and create the orange glow you see.
In Germany, if the day is clear and you are near the highest point in the country you will see an alpenglow. In this instance the sun is like Loki, a trickster reappearing after it has already vanished.
The cold morning air broke when the sun rose behind the curled line of barb wire. Behind me dilapidated Nazi bunkers spilled rebar and chunks of concrete out of their wounds. I looked down, my eyes tracking the cliff face of Ponte Du Hoc that ended in a small beach below. What started out as a quiet morning like this where the sky was blood red was destroyed by young men killing each other for ideals. They had not enjoyed the sunrise that day, many never again since.
Although not a sunrise this sun dog spreads across the sky on a winter morning. The ski lift hummed as it rose higher and higher into the air. Heavy snow had fallen the night before and the trees were caked with white. Pine trees were hidden beneath the frozen stuff. My skies had a film of snow on their tops.
In the sky a weird site took shape. The sun, visible on the horizon had a ring around it. There were two spots of light on either side of the sun and a small ring, a 22 degree halo, was visible around the sun. This wonder is caused by light reflecting off ice crystals in the air.
The sun never changes. It is a ball of fire burning millions of miles away, but it can look different every day. Location changes it. So does the weather. You can look at the sun everyday and experience it in a different way each time. Of course, this first requires you to take the time to slow down and look.