My favorite time of the day is sunrise and dawn. The earth slowly turns out of the darkness of night and gradually there is light. At first it’s barely perceptible but gingerly the black turns to shadow. The sun nears the horizon and it’s light gets scattered above, bouncing off any clouds that are near giving them their own colors and hues. Generally, not always, the daytime winds have subsided during the night and the air is calm – as if in anticipation of the dawn. All the colors of the sunrise are reflected in the smoothness of the still lake. The loons are long gone but as the light gets brighter I can hear the ducks and geese that have not yet headed south for winter. They are gathering in larger flocks before they depart. At this point everything pauses for a suspended moment.
And then the sun rises higher in the sky throwing it’s brightness all around, the wind picks up and riffles across the lake surface, the geese and ducks take flight, the squirrels start to scurry, and our human noise of activity echos throughout the area greeting another day.
Summer seems to be associated with activities — the longer days give us more time to play and enjoy the sun, warmth, and water. But sometimes we’re reminded that quiet and peacefulness are just as important during the summer. We’d had heavy rains the previous day and the temperatures were moderate. In the morning we woke to a thick fog that initially covered the entire lake and blocked the trees on the opposite shore. As the sun feebly tried to break through the fog, the shoreline became more visible. There was no wind – only stillness. It was a quiet and tranquil time. The fog was in no hurry to burn off, and the morning was taking its own sweet time. It seemed to be a reminder to slow down and enjoy all the moods of summer as it will soon fade into autumn.
Whenever I’m out on a lake I’m always looking around at the sky, the clouds, the shoreline and the reflections — anything for a delightful image and photograph. Last week I wrote about musical patterns that I saw in the surface of a lake with the reflection of cattails and lily pads. This week I found raindrops dancing on a lake surface. It was early evening when we put our canoe into the water, with a sun sinking into the west and a bank of clouds passing by. The sun was still out and when I looked around I could see small circles on the surface of the lake, and not of the fish-kind. Although we couldn’t feel it ourselves it was starting to rain. The single drops spaced themselves on the surface of lake, making beautifully concentric circles and ripples spreading outward. With the sunlight and the blue sky reflected in the surface, I was presented with a wonderful photographic opportunity. As quickly as the rain had started, it then stopped. After awhile the sun slid below the horizon, painting the sky a shade of pink and orange; the full moon rose over the trees, the stars filled the sky above, and we were treated to another beautiful summer’s evening on a Minnesota lake.
With a weekend full of activities that already included an art exhibit reception, a 40-mile bike ride, and a baseball game, we decided to head out early this morning for some peace and quiet on a local lake. We had hoped to be on the lake as the sun was rising, but Mother Nature had other plans and the dawn began overcast and cloudy. As we launched our canoe we had the entire lake to ourselves, surrounded by the special stillness and quiet that is reserved for the earliest times of the morning. The lake was calm and we paddled near a shoreline that was lined with cattails and had lily pads floating nearby. As I looked at the lake surface and the reflection I felt like I was looking at a sheet of music with staff lines and notes placed in a pattern that was meant to be played and interpreted. Perhaps it was a prelude to the day that was just beginning — a time of wonder and calm when all the world seems still and all you have to do for the next hour or so is relax in your canoe, paddle on the lake, and enjoy the hours as they quietly develop.