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A NEW SUNRISE

In 1973, the rock band Golden Earring recorded the hit song, “Radar Love.” This song would be on my list of Rock’s Top 100 Songs. The last line of the third verse goes: “And I’m speeding to a new sunrise.” I love that line. It is the ultimate in optimism.


There is a certain, unmatched glory in the sunrise, fleeting, yet filled with spectacular beauty. It calls to us, speaking of beginnings, of opportunity, of excitement for the coming day.


Certain sunrises are special. For example, any sunrise which casts its reddish-pink glow upon a mountainside, known as alpenglow. I understand that alpenglow comes from the German word: alpenglühen, lit. 'Alps glow'. Alpenglow is an optical phenomenon where the mountains opposite the rising or setting sun begin to take on a reddish, pink-to-purple hue. Most Americans have unwittingly sung about alpenglow numerous times when they have sung the patriotic hymn, America the Beautiful (originally entitled "Pikes Peak").


Originally written as a poem by Katharine Lee Bates in 1893, the second line in the first stanza says: “For purple mountain majesties.” Inasmuch as Bates was travelling at the time by train through Kansas (Hence, “amber waves of grain”) to Colorado and Pikes Peak when she was inspired by the natural beauty around her, she was likely awestruck by the alpenglow on the Rocky Mountain Front Range as the sun rose that July morning. Ponder, Melinda M. (2017). Katharine Lee Bates: From Sea to Shining Sea. Chicago, IL: Windy City Publishers.


Another reason that alpenglow is special is that it cannot occur without mountains. Many who live in or near mountains consider them sacred for many reasons. For me, mountains are sacred because they are the symbolic last bastion of wilderness. They are vast in the American west and house many species of wild animals as well as wild places.

Another special sunrise for me is the sunrise in the new year close to my home – January on Lake Helena. December and January are the coldest months in Montana. Sub-zero temperatures are not uncommon, and the coldest time of day is right around sunrise. You can count on single digits when waiting for a Montana January sunrise. Yet, the air is clear and crisp, very refreshing. There is usually snow, and because it is so cold, I often think of Ol’ Wenceslas:


Good King Wenceslas looked out

On the feast of Stephen,

When the snow lay round about,

Deep and crisp and even.


There are low lying hills to the east of the lake. As those hills begin to warm and glow like embers left in a campfire from the night before, my shutter begins to click. The glow is intensified by clouds as light infiltrates them. It is a phenomenon much like alpenglow. It is glorious. I am excited "speeding to a new sunrise." What will the day bring – the year bring? Oh, the chances are good.

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