Today, the sun rose at my house in Massachusetts at 5:08 a.m. In Iowa, at Mom and Dad’s, it rose at 5:31 a.m. That time doesn’t consider topography of the land. That is the scientific time the sun first peeks over the true horizon from nearly 93 million miles away. I do not feel the sunrise that early in Massachusetts. It takes longer to appear over the next-door neighbor’s house which is uphill from us and only about twenty yards from our house. Then, once it has risen over that, our maple trees blot out direct sunlight until mid-day. The result is a morning spray of light through the trees that softly reflects in a leaf dance on a wall.
We were in Iowa last weekend for a quick visit, and each morning I woke up at sunrise. Through sleepy eyelashes, an orange vertical slice of light appeared on the wall opposite of me, ten feet away. The rest of the room lay in quiet shades of black and gray with no other decipherable color.
When I woke up the first morning, the orange bar confused me. I initially thought something was hanging on the wall but soon realized that three-foot long bar was the morning sun on fire over the horizon and shining through the inch-wide space between the curtains on the north-facing window. That wide expanse of Iowa farmland let the sun stream into the room at the true time of the sunrise.
The slice on the wall was the truest orange I could imagine. Not the color of the fruit. Not neon orange. It was nearly the orange of an unwrapped orange crayon. And not enough red to be red-orange. It had the vibrancy of a jewel tone – a ruby, sapphire, emerald, or amethyst, but there is no gem for orange.
We sleep in this room whenever we are home, but I hadn’t noticed this band of light before. Ah, the beauty of science! We are rarely home this early in the summer: with the tilt of the earth and the placement of it on the rotation around the sun, the sun rose in the high east – very near to northeast. At Christmas time, it rises at the high edge of southeast.
That bar was gleeful. A kind of early morning surprise that had only my eyes. And the color… sublime. After percolating on the back burner for five days, I finally found a word for it. I know what its true color is. Popsicle orange.
Not the color of a Popsicle when it first comes out of the package and momentarily sticks to your tongue on the first lick. That first sight has a frosty, subdued look from the cold hitting the hot summer air. Then, the Popsicle color brightens with a few well-placed licks all the way around. It wasn’t that color. Eaten in the hot afternoon sun, heat begins to melt the Popsicle, speeding up consumption. At the first drip of the Popsicle… that’s the color of an orange jewel – and the color of the sun peeking in the window at sunrise at Mom and Dad’s.
What would be a most accurate new crayon name? Popsicle orange? Or, Slice of Early Morning Light?