Going back to Writing 101, Day 4: A story in a single image…
When I was in college, I took several photography courses as part of a self-designed minor of study. One weekend during my senior year, I got the idea to go to the top of a mountain and photograph the sunrise. It was October, and around here, you never know whether October will be the back end of summer or the front end of winter. I remember getting up very early and piling on layers of clothing. While the forecast was for seasonal temperatures in the valley, the mountain was a different story. Two shirts, a sweater, winter jacket, hat, gloves… I was prepared.
It was still dark as my car crested the mountain and pulled into the small parking lot near the lodge. There was no sign of other people, though a couple of cars sat empty in the lot. The lodge was dark. I turned off my headlights and got out of the car. Stars blinked in the night, but the sky was just taking on a faint grey cast. I picked my way over the rocks to find myself a perch at the top of the eastern slope. I sat in silence; the only sound was the cold wind which swiped at the top of the mountain as if to blow it clean. I shivered, and I remember wondering if I would make it to daylight without breaking down and seeking shelter my heated car.
It didn’t get warmer, but slowly, the sky brightened. The first rays of morning sunlight winked over the distant horizon, and a layer of white fog blanketed the valley. The mountains, in varying shades of blue-grey, touched the sky tainted pink with the promise of a new day. In time, the color faded to a pale blue.
That morning, as I sat on the rock and watch the landscape change from night to day, I realized that there are some things that we truly must experience. I could take pictures to show to family and friends, but being on that mountain, exposed to the elements and taking in the splendor of the scenery as the day dawned was a moment that is meant to be captured by the eye and the brain and the senses, by being present and in the moment. It was a moment that created an image that will forever remain in the accessible archives of my brain.