One of the nicer memories of our long family car trips is the early morning beginning, traveling east into the the slowly illuminating sky. It has my full attention, everyone is asleep as I drive straight into the dawn.
The last long car trip due east was to bring my daughter to college. Instead of the whole family, it was just she and I. As she dozed in the passenger seat, the sky began softly glowing across the wide horizon. I thought of her interpretation of Francis Scott Key’s lyrics. “Mom, what does “donzerly” light look like?”
It varies. Sometimes it infiltrates thick cloud cover and you gradually realize you no longer need room lights. Sometimes it is broadly pink and stunning. Other days the slate blue of early light is soothing and promising. Some days a fiery ball simply rises into the horizon without fanfare. Each feels like a gift, presenting a new day.
It’s been five years since I drove my daughter east to a new world that would slowly unfold for her and become her new home. Last year, she graduated from college; one of the the scariest, biggest steps of all for a young adult following a college track. After high school one moves into the safety and protection of a campus with professors and deans, groundskeepers and cooks. Though there is the rigor of studies, there is also oodles of discretionary time and a campus teeming with friends and colleagues to enjoy it with. You don’t have to decide where you will sleep at night (well...never mind on that one), how you will earn a living or what the next decade will hold. Then you graduate and, wow, suddenly a whole world of new realities to live into: a job to find, rent to cover, car tires to buy and a future to plan.
Maddy, what did the dawn’s early light look like from your dorm room, as the sun rose over the Berkshires? And what are your new sunrises like in the cityscapes of Boston and Cambridge? Back home in Marine, this morning’s was a long prelude of silky pinks that retreated to make way for an orange crescent peeking over the river bluff. It was the last one that will be exactly just like that.