Mornings

Everyone has a morning ritual, but lingering by a river at daybreak has to be near the top.
Everyone has a morning ritual, but lingering by a river at daybreak with a cup of coffee has to be near the top.

I am here today to defend the proposition that there is no better part of the day than the early morning hours of a day.  That’s right, I am taking a stand.  And yes, this is a subject that is much ignored by most folks, but in the name of the pursuit of happiness, I feel that it is my duty to openly declare that those fleeting hours when the sun begins to appear over the horizon are about as close to heaven as we will get on this earth.  They are poetry incarnate, manifesting a choreographed rhythm replete with rituals, lights, beginnings, and discovery.  When we wake up (and no matter our speed of movement), we tend to do the same things every day, even if during the rest of the day we proudly profess not to be the victims of routine.  It is those little things we do without fail that make morning so special.  Eyes opening with the first light, setting those same eyes on a loved one, laboring in the kitchen, and going through our mental checklist for the day.  It is busy time, but busy with new beginnings and the hope that today will be better than yesterday.  So there you have it: I’m officially issuing the “morning is best” edict, so we all better start enjoying them a little bit more.  Still skeptical? Just ask the fella sitting at that bench.

Waking Up To A New Year

A young couple enjoys a quiet, early morning moment along the Potomac river in Old Town Alexandria.
A young couple enjoys a quiet, early morning moment along the Potomac river in Old Town Alexandria.
A young girl feeds the seagulls while rhythmically imitating their soaring flight.
A young girl feeds the seagulls while rhythmically imitating their soaring flight.
In the early morning hours, cranes can be spotted walking along the Alexandria shore.
In the early morning hours, cranes can be spotted walking along the Alexandria shore.
An empty boat sits dockside at Waterfront Park in Old Town Alexandria.
An empty boat sits dockside at Waterfront Park in Old Town Alexandria.

You know those days when nothing much seems to be going on? Well, yesterday was one of those days. The whole city seemed to have entered the New Year’s hangover stage and everywhere you went there seemed to be an eerily quiet atmosphere with only a few, slow-moving folks trickling about. This is actually pretty normal during these first days of the year, as people psychologically gear themselves for the inevitable return to the daily grind. After all, all those postponed projects and tasks from last year didn’t quite disappear with the champagne on New Year’s eve.

However, the absence of crowds is also a great opportunity for some unique photography. Empty space can be accentuated, serenity can dominate a scene, and the proverbial “photo bomb” can be eliminated from the frame. Hoping to capture a little of that that empty, serene space, I headed down to the Alexandria waterside to take a long walk along its quiet, rocky shore. Bereft of crowds and the never-ending sound of human activity, the place was like a scene right out of some small European village along the French Mediterranean shore. The mighty Potomac river was so calm that it appeared to be sleeping after a night of celebration. Couples moved at glacier speeds before coming to a halt in order to linger and take in the beauty of an empty landscape. Young girls danced with seaguls as if in a choreographed performance on a vast, outdoor stage. In the quiet humm of a morning breeze, nature and the human spirit appeared to still be dancing the night away. A new year, hesitantly taking its first steps while shining its soft, morning light on us to remind us of the beauty that life can be. What a day. What a life.