While we celebrate the beginning of a new year with its new ideas, new goals, and new opportunities, nature does not deviate from its routine. It follows the same pattern it has kept every day for thousands of years. There is no use for years to mark the passing of time. The day still brightens and dims as it did millennia ago. The only true beginning it needs is the beginning of each day.
It’s still quiet. The air is a faint, hushed hum.
I can see stars, so much brighter than usual! It’s going to be a beautiful clear day. Orange lights twinkle in the distance.
Every once in awhile there’s a whoosh of a car from the distance or the longer whooooosh of a plane. But there’s always the faint shhhhhh static of the air itself. It sounds like a faint crowd in the distance, a faint buzz of excitement.
I cannot feel the wind.
The whoooooosh is louder. The sound is more even, constant. The energy in the air is building.
High notes weave into the tapestry of sound. A distant foghorn lets out its low, long call.
The world slowly wakes up. Thin columns of smoke rise from chimneys as people warm up their houses and chase away the night’s cold.
Civil Twilight Begins
The air stirs from its slumber. Occasionally, a puff of cool air passes through.
The brightening sky is less saturated than it is in my memories. It is covered in a cast of faint gray.
The crow is first today.
caw, ca-caw, caw.
caw, ca-caw, caw.
To the west: horizontal, loose smudges of grays and pinks on a field of bluish gray. the thinnest curtain of purple covers the vast sky.
The crow caws again.
aooooh caw caw. caw aoooooh.
The sound is fainter as the roar grows louder.
A plane flies across the brightening sky. The engines of cars, the rush of tires, the voice of a child, the loudening foghorn—all become a prelude of the starting day.
More chimneys puff away.
7:03 AM — 7:10 AM
A bird chirps. The sound is high, buzzing, sharp.
Another plane voices its low roar. A loud engine cuts through. The buzz of machinery comes to life.
Surely sunrise must have snuck past already. Surely the sun must be in the sky. The expanse is so, so bright! Pinks and purples grow more vibrant in the distance. A wash of blue sits at the very edge of the horizon; it is amazingly vibrant.
*civil twilight and sunrise data provided by
the u.s. naval observatory, astronomical applications department