Tuesday, December 31, 2013

First Sunrise 2013

Last year, I managed to wake myself up early enough to see the first sunrise of the year , because I managed to convince myself that it was "research" for writing my fanfic.  This is a Japanese custom known as Hatsuhi (初日 - literally "first day"), where people will go outside, often together, to catch the first rays of light of the new year.  I didn't have a blog last year to share this on, but I did write an account in an email to a friend.

If you did watch the Rose Parade [in 2013], you may have noticed that it was not particularly sunny, but the weather wasn't bad -- just a broken altostratus deck.  So there was a good chance that I would see new sun as it shed the first light on the new year.

I woke up at around 6:50, and threw on a flannel shirt over my flannel pajamas. When I first woke up, the sky was still dark enough that I could see a couple of planets, but dark clouds obscured most everything but the bright gibbous moon.  I got out a ladder and set it up against the house -- the lightest part of the sky was behind the orange tree, so I had to climb up to get a better view.

The black shingle of the roof was cold to the touch, but the wind was calm, and I still warm from bed.  I ambled up the the apex of the garage, so as not to wake anyone up, and turned towards the eastern sky.  There were still a lot of trees -- more than I had thought there were in my neighborhood -- but it was obvious from the clouds that I wasn't going to see sunrise directly.  The appointed time, 7:03, came and went, with only a slight brightening of the eastern sky.  Of course, I thought -- the sun's gotta rise above the Santa Monica Mountains.  I did a quick calculation: 3° above the horizon is about 10 minutes -- and settled down to wait.

A pair of crows joined me on a nearby power line, staring eastward too.  The sky started to brighten as the sunlight filtered to the bottom of the clouds, and suddenly the gloomy sky was replaced with a warm glow.  Everything started to come alive, and the finches started singing their calls, telling all of the other birds, "Hark, awaken, for a new day has come, everyone be excited.  I'm going to tweet to everyone I know, Happy New Year!  Hey everyone, wake up!"  And then of course, they stopped, because everyone knows only 140 characters can fit into a tweet.

The crows, whom by this point I had nicknamed Phobos and Deimos, awaited the sunrise.  And then, finally, the bottom of the clouds at the horizon was lined with a golden glow.  And, that was it.  Phobos cawed to Deimos, "Huh, is that it?"  They looked on for a moment more, before the reply came from Deimos, "Yeah, I guess that's all it's gonna be."  Some crows in the large ficus behind us called out, and my crow friends departed to join their friends for the day.

But, I had gotten up especially for this, so I was undeterred.  It looked like a break in the clouds was up a little bit further, and I was definitely going to catch the first rays of sun.  A man passed by, walking a dog, disturbing the canine living next door.  I took the chance to look at the hills, and the sky, and the strip of ocean to the south.  Things really do look different from up high, so I took in the view of the house's roofs as a pair of house finches zoomed by me.

And then, ten minutes later, the sun finally broke through the clouds -- well -- partially.  It was still obscured by the clouds, so I couldn't see the golden disk.  But I saw a bright enough glow to etch the afterimage into my eyes.  I blinked, and the image of the sun's light through the clouds formed a shape that looked exactly like this: ^_^   The sun had smiled upon my weeaboo endeavor, and blessed me with an Asian smiley for the new year.  And with that, I accepted the blessing and headed back down to a warm bed.

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