The early morning sun splits the gap between the Queen’s Chair and the end of Heney Range. Photo by Dick Shellhorn

After several days of rain, Saturday, Jan. 6 dawned with streaks of pink clouds amidst a blue sky. Wearing hiking boots equipped with “buds,” a generic name for cleats, and BOA cable cranks for tightening, a walk along icy Power Creek Road was a crunchy but rewarding experience. 

Dawn. Can you beat it? 

Stephen Harrigan, who described “Morning Light” in his essay “A Natural State” described it as “the time of day when we are least receptive to the lessons of Copernicus.” 

He goes on to clarify with: “We may understand that our earth is a sphere evolving in the light of sun, as it moves furiously through space neither forward or backward, neither in to nor out of time, with no other fate other than entropy.” 

He adds that: “Still a part of our intelligence greets each day as if celestial mechanics had never been discovered, with a primitive confidence that the sun rises solely for us, to light our way and warm our blood.’’   

In other words, the Beatles had it right: “Here Comes the Sun.” 


Living my entire life in rainy Cordova, my own much less eloquent mantra is “I have never seen a sunrise I didn’t like,” and the quick passage of the sun on its current low arc through the gap between the Queen’s Chair and the edge of Heney Range by the Eyak River bridge certainly verifies Copernicus, just as surely as the warmth of the sun is reward enough for the beep of an early alarm clock. 

Strangely enough, Harrigan did not mention the changes in the seasons that are due to the tilt in the earth’s axis. Already, the sun shining through the gap is higher in the morning by a noticeable amount. 

Of course, this is a very slow process that accelerates dramatically.    

The change in sunrise time was less than a second from the winter solstice (Dec. 20 sunrise 9:50 a.m.) to the next day, and by Jan. 20 the sun rose 24 minutes earlier. Consider these sunrise times: Feb. 20 8:09 a.m.; March 20 7:42 a.m. (clocks changed due to daylight saving time); April 20 6:07 a.m.; May 20 4:47 a.m.; June 20 4:12 a.m. (summer solstice). 

So, despair not. Yes, we will have rain and snow. What else is new? 

Just ask the Beatles:  

“Here comes the sun, doo-doo-doo-doo 
Here comes the sun, and I say, 
It’s alright 

Little darlin’, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter 
Little darlin’, it feels like years since it’s been here 

Here comes the sun, doo-doo-doo-doo 
Here comes the sun, and I say, 
It’s alright 

Little darlin’, the smile’s returning to their faces 
Little darlin’, it seems like years since it’s been here 

Here comes the sun 
Here comes the sun, and I say, 
It’s alright.” 

Strangely enough what triggered these thoughts was a chance encounter with a grey-bearded gentleman carrying a bamboo ski pole in the deserted post office late on Saturday afternoon. Wearing cleats and a knit cap, he was carefully navigating icy street conditions, and when I commented on his unique walking stick, he replied “I used to use it when I was racing.” 

The post office has always been one of my favorite sources of information, but since my wife was waiting in an empty parking lot, I just mentioned I had some much-used poles just like that in our attic. 

I bade him farewell with a caution to go slow, and when I got in the car, I asked my wife who that was. 

“That was Ron Anderson,” she said. “He’s the person who has spent countless hours as the volunteer librarian at Mt. Eccles that Gretchen (our daughter who teaches 5th grade) has been telling you about.”