January 31, 2011

#19: Four Letter Word

I'm going to have to break down and say that today's sunrise was...EPIC (shudder). The world has been super-saturated with this word lately. I'll admit, it started out to be a really cool and meaningful word, but any gravity it once possessed has now dissipated into a popular void. Everything seems to be "epic" these days and I'm completely sick of it! I just finished reading Alfred Lansing's book Endurance about Shackleton's 1914 attempt to cross Antarctica. THAT was definitely epic (you should all read the book by the way--I loved it!). Football games, cell phones, big greasy meals--none of these things qualify. Come to think of it, I'm annoying myself by wanting to call this morning's sunrise epic. I guess I'll just tell you the story and you can decide whether I'm being a melodramatic hypocrite or not.

I got a slow start this morning. NPR's weather forecast warned of a massive blizzard on the way and I sat beside the radio for a few extra minutes making sure I had all the details I'd need to get to school on time and avoid having my car ticketed or towed. When I finally got out the door I was a couple minutes behind. This may sound insignificant, but sunrise waits for no one. To catch the best moments, it's necessary to arrive on time...and even better by far to arrive early. To help keep up a brisk pace I pulled out my shuffle and timed my stride to the determined sounds of Tron. Timing was additionally complicated by the fact that I would have to make a side trip to the Evanston library and return an audio book that was due.

I took my usual route up Chicago Ave and when I reached Davis, looked to the east to see if there were any hints of brightening that would signal a good sunrise. I wasn't expecting much...a thick layer of clouds hung low in the sky above me and the forecast for the day was bleak. What I saw however made my heart race--the clouds broke over the eastern horizon and below them the sky was a luminous bloody red. CRAP! I still had to go to the library and I was missing everything!!! I immediately picked up the pace, running where possible (difficult to do with a loaded shoulder bag). I finally made it to the library a couple minutes later, dropped the case of cds in the slot, and then booked it east along Church street watching the flaming horizon grow before me.

Why the hurry? It's not uncommon for the most brilliant hues of sunrise to occur well before the sun actually arrives, and things can always change in a matter of seconds. It was well within the realm of possibility that by the time I reached the lakeshore, the brilliant red would have dissipated into some pale shade of yellow and--though it would still have been pretty--the intensity and drama of the early climax would be lost. The Tron soundtrack playing in my headphones flipped to a particularly badass track (Derezzed) and I suddenly felt like a superhero on a mission--I smiled:)

When I arrived at the lake's edge, I whispered a cheer "YESSS!" and tried to steady myself against a strong and bitter wind to get some photos. At this point, Tron was playing me a track both forboding and resonant (Fall) that seemed the perfect compliment to this piquant foreshadowing of the sun's arrival.

There was still a good 10-15 minutes to go before sunrise and I continued north along the lake breathing heavily and (despite a vicious wind chill) sweating profusely underneath my layers.

After a while, Tron took a more contemplative turn (Finale...perfect sunrise music) and my walking followed suit. The piece starts out with a dramatic low-brass chorale--actually I think just Tuba and bass trombone at the beginning--and before each note the musicians' enormous intake of breath is easily audible. I love the sound of a good section breathing together--it sets up and leads into the music so easily. At the same time, hearing the shear amount of air that has to be sucked out of the room to create a good low-brass tone gives even the most pianissimo passage an incredible amount of power. Being able to hear extraneous noise--like breathing--is unusual in a studio recording. I was surprised the producers left it in. Now I love that dang soundtrack even more!

I got to school just in time to see this...

Tron was playing End of Line, and the violence of the music mirrored the ferocity with which the waves were surging toward me. The light blue you see at the bottom of the above photo is a mass of rippling pancake ice being moved ashore by the stormy swell.

I snapped a few pictures, and then...my battery died. I knew I didn't have a spare set of AAs so I scrambled around trying the few tricks I know to squeeze every last bit of juice I could out of the pair in my camera. One thing that usually buys me an extra picture or two is switching the batteries around--the one on the right goes to the left, and visa versa. No luck this time. I don't know if this is true, but extreme cold has also seemed to affect my batteries' life in the past. I cupped the camera in my hands and blew hot air around it. Aha! It worked! I got another couple photos before cold and the necessity of practice drove me inside.

I snagged a practice room with the best sunrise view I could find (the fuzziness in this picture was a result of moisture condensing on the lense--like what happens to my glasses all the time. The effect was unintentional--but kinda cute none-the-less--so I left it). I was bummed that I couldn't stay and watch the scene for another hour or so. With cloud formations like this, the colors and shapes created and highlighted by the sun were likely to evolve spectacularly for quite some time. But (sigh) I only had an hour in which to get a good warm up before my 8:30 theory class. And, you know, (contrary to what this blog may indicate) I am here at NU to play trumpet...not to watch the clouds go by.

Still I'm glad I've been able to take this bit of time every morning and indulge my romantic side...even if it turns me sappy enough to inappropriately use a great word like epic. In truth though, I think that was mostly the fault of the soundtrack I chose to accompany my walk. Maybe tomorrow I'll choose some chill-out folky guitar music...see what that does.

1 comment:

  1. I'm out of breath!!!!! What a great ride!!!!! THanks AGAIN!!!!!