Sunsets are easy – most everyone gets to see them, they cater to the folks on the west coast who are set up to watch the sun sink into the Pacific, they fit nicely into circadian rhythms. I’m not knocking the sunset – it’s spectacular, but gushing over sunsets is like rooting for Lance Armstrong. It’s a great thing to do, but lacks a certain sense of dedication.
The sunrise, on the other hand, is the arial display for the alternative set. Just being awake for a sunrise requires dedication – the exhausted dedication of pulling an all-nighter (which is just as exquisite following a hard night’s work as it is when accompanied by wine, women, and song), or yielding to the scream of the alarm clock while avoiding the pull of the snooze button. It’s ephemeral – by the time you notice the sky lighting up, you’ve got to pay attention, or it’s on to blue sky and blazing thermonuclear furnace.
When I was living in Houston, I lived pretty much due west from the office. Meaning that my commute in the morning was straight into the rising sun, and in the evening was straight into the setting sun.
On IH-10, this blew chunks. I don’t know how many of y’all have seen IH-10 through west Houston, but it’s as wide as the Mississippi, and as barren as the great plains. A vast field of cars, trucks, and SUV’s sitting at idle from sunup to sunset, shimmering in the south Texas heat.
But, when I’d get off my butt and ride the bike into work, the sunrise was completely glorious, quite literally the light at the end of the tunnel of trees along the Buffalo Bayou bike path. In the winter months, the kick was to start the ride to work just as legal twilight was beginning, and to see if I could make it off the Bush Park levee before the sun crested the horizon. There was just something cool about being able to make the sun set again as I dropped the 40′ from the top of the flood control dam to the bayou trail, or about looking behind me and seeing my shadow, quite literally, a quarter mile long.
Then there are the Saturday morning sunrises seen from inside the car on the way to the group rides, full of anticipation, coffee, stories of the last ride, and smack talk for this one.
My favorites, though, are the weekend morning sunrises I get now, sneaking out of the house well before anyone else stirs to grab miles while the family sleeps, and still be back for the energy, joy, and love that come bounding down the stairs, or stand ready at the crib rail, stinky stuffed frog in hand.