Sunrise in Sedona on New Year's Day (or, What's a 9:08?)

Updated: Feb 3, 2021



I thought I'd celebrate the dawn of the New Year (literally) by taking some sunrise photos where we live in Sedona. I consulted my iPhone, which told me that the sun would rise at 7:35am. So left my home with plenty of time to arrive at a location that would give me a beautiful view of the sunrise. Once I arrived, I saw little sign that the sun was getting near the horizon. Yes, there was plenty of light, but no sun. Then I realized that the sunrise is predicted by using a mathematical calculation based on my location and the distance to a mathematically precise location on a smooth ball the size of the Earth. It didn't take into account the fact that the Mogollan Rim, the cliff you see in this photograph, is 800 feet or so higher than the hypothetical smooth ball.


As a result, I spent some time walking back and forth trying to keep myself warm as I waited for the sun to rise some more. While I was waiting, I turned toward the west and was delighted to see the sun's light touch the top of the red cliffs behind me, and then slowly drop closer and closer to the field I was standing in. The moon's presence added a wonderful counterpoint.


Finally, a beam of light sparkled over the distant edge of the Mogollan Rim and began to illuminate the trees and grasses in the field I was standing in. I was thrilled to see the sun's golden light caught in the grass and the tiny leaves of a tree that were right in line with the sun's first rays.


After taking a number of photos, the scene began to look like a "normal" morning, so to speak, and I was cold and hungry. I drove home, feeling charged with the light I felt within myself.


When Marjorie and I sat down for breakfast a short time later, I looked at the digital clock next to our gas fireplace. It read 9:08. For some reason, this seemed like a very strange thing. After being out in nature and a new day's sunlight, with time measured by the slow movement of the sun's shadows, I felt charged with lightness and wonder. Seeing the digital clock's red numbers felt like seeing hieroglyphics, or an alien filing system. What's a 9:08? my mind flashed before the usual recognition of it settled in. I felt delicately altered, like the 9:08 was from a different world and I was free from whatever a 9:08 meant.


I kept looking at it every few minutes, its strangeness and ordinariness blending in my awareness, until it faded into being a mostly ordinary clock a short while later.


Some part of it is still shining inside - a memory of a morning beyond time.

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