There was a night a while back that began like any normal evening that spring. I was spending some time with a few of my friends. We were all talking, watching some television, eating some delicious raisin bread toast, and doing things friends do. Night’s navy blue shroud was well upon us, and would soon be lifted by dawn. A couple others and I were told we would have to leave the house at six o’clock that morning, because the hostess’s mom would be returning home soon after. It was an issue of house rules, and we all understood.
When six finally rolled around, we trekked through the dense grayness of morning limbo, that time when you can’t quite see the sun yet, but the moon and stars aren’t out either. I sat in the back seat of my friend’s sedan, and we were off. At the time we left, rays of sunlight were beginning to filter into the atmosphere, and the soft chirping of morning birds seemed to be warning us that we had very few minutes left of night to begin sleeping.
Riding along, I was calmed by the rhythmic th-thump of the car’s tires over breaks in the pavement plates. The fresh, moist scent of spring air laced with morning dew pervaded. The breeze cooled comfortably. We ascended a hill with machine-like grace, a roller coaster on its first climb. As we drew nearer to the top, the sky became paler and lighter. I sat comfortably in the backseat with my arms wrapped around my knees, gazing out at the beautiful lush scenery. It seemed like a routine drive through the woods, a trip that each of us sat in the driver’s seat for at least once that week. We were all quite familiar with the route. The area was very familiar too. Growing up in a house on the edge of a forest, in a sub-rural tourist-filled resort town, I felt somewhat desensitized to the sight of trees and natural occurrences.
Something was different this morning though. Maybe it was a result of staying awake for too long. There was something so very aesthetically pleasing about everything we passed. I had a very uncommon feeling of vulnerability, open to take in much more; I became a child again. I stared out of my rear passenger window at the near and distant trees. I calmly, yet intently, took in everything around me again for the first time.
The sound of my friends talking slowly faded out and my focus shifted to my aerial view of these tree skyscrapers. The slowly rising sun created a gradient of deep purple to light blue in the horizon, passing through several shades of yellow and orange. The clouds were huge cotton balls; each dipped in a different color dye, like Easter eggs. The rays of the sun’s ethereal paintbrush draped across everything, gilding the edges of the horizon. I noticed something peculiar about the trees down in the forest below.
It was still early spring, so the trees had not begun the budding process in earnest yet, and most of them still had bare branches. These trees seemed to be stretching their limbs towards the sky, as if they were yawning. The very upper tips of their branches all pointed skyward, beckoning the sunlight towards them. Was this a ritualistic ceremony performed every sunrise. They were monks without robes, silently chanting their praise to the sun. An ocean of branches, all outstretched towards the sky. The trees, alive and swaying, seemed almost as though if I were to look away for even a moment, they would start moving. I was completely fixated. I could not open my eyes or my mind wide enough to take it all in at once. In this moment, I had become as delicate as the branches I saw outstretched before me. If disturbed, I would have crumpled to the floor.
The multitude of colors slowly waned from the skies, and with it my fixation; Sitting there, wondering whether reality was in the car or out of it.