“It's the chance of a lifetime!” I exclaimed as our two families sat around the campfire at Bruce Peninsula National Park one summer evening.
“It happens every day,” my husband Marty flatly pointed out.
But our enthusiasm did not falter. My friend Ellie and I were going to get up in the morning at whatever time was necessary to hike over to the bay to see the sunrise. It might happen every day, but I for one had never seen the sun rise over the water.
We laid our plans, ignoring our scoffing spouses who would be left behind. Someone had to stay with the kids anyway.
“The time the sun comes up is in the newspaper,” I said.
“Sorry, I used it to start this fire,” said Marty.
We decided to ask the park staff. “They should know what time the sun rises; it's part of park life,” Ellie reasoned.
The first ranger we asked said 5:20. His colleague thought 5:35, “...but, we're only on night shift, we don't know much about the sun.”
Ellie and I calculated a 45-minute hike out to Georgian Bay from our campsite. Considering the possibility of a 5:20 sunrise, we set the travelling alarm clock at 4:35. Full of enthusiasm, I volunteered to sleep with the clock and be responsible for waking Ellie and her 12-year-old son Henry who also wanted to come.
As a precaution, before settling down that night I asked Marty to please push me out of the tent in the morning. I knew my gung-ho evening self was no match for my groggy morning self.
At exactly 4:35 the alarm startled me from a dream. In the dream I had awakened to an alarm in the dead of night and had labouriously dressed item by item with all the frustrations of misplaced and ill-fitting garments inherent in dreams. I was exhausted from dressing and hadn't even dressed yet.
Ellie and Henry were just coming out of their tent as I approached. We set off on the trail behind the campsites along the shore of an inland lake. There was thick mist hanging over the water. We wondered if maybe it was too foggy to see the sunrise.
Tripping and stumbling over sticks and stones, we followed the trail away from the lake and through the woods to a clearing where it was light. My watch said 5:20. "Maybe the sun's up already. Maybe we missed it."
We ran across the clearing through a narrow stand of trees and came out onto the rocky shore of the bay. The sun was nowhere. The water was completely calm. There was a greyness over everything. The air was quietly lovely.
We sat on the rocks and waited...until 6 o'clock. "Maybe there won't be a sunrise today," I speculated. At 6:10 Ellie dug into her backpack for some juice.
Just then it happened. The sun began to rise. A sliver of pink peeked up onto the water's edge. Rather quickly the entire pink sun floated up above the water. Then the pink colour gave way to a red glow. The mist over the water dissipated as the sun’s glow changed again from red to yellow and a glittering reflection reached towards us across the water.
“Awesome,” sighed Henry.
I wonder how many atheists are still atheists after watching a sunrise?