Havre de Grace, as I've learned, is the perfect place to watch the sun rise. It's also a perfect place for photography when the early morning light reflects off the vast waters of the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay. On this day, last year, I unknowingly undertook a personal journey that would have lifelong implications. My goal was simple: rise early each morning for one year, the four seasons of the earth, to witness and to photograph the rising sun as seen from Havre de Grace. It seemed a unique opportunity to connect with nature, to endure the elements, to experience personal growth through commitment to something real.
By day twelve, I was ready to ditch the entire effort and would have, but for the encouragement of my wife, Andrea.
Most mornings I stood near the Concord Point Lighthouse. The expansive view from that perspective has to be one of the best on the planet. The land there, I am told, was considered sacred by Native Americans who once resided in the area. Primitive man had to be awestruck daily by the mysterious transition of darkness to light that is so easy for modern man to take for granted.
As time passed, my self imposed sunrise journey became something of a personal pilgrimage. The photography, once the crux of my early morning antics, became far less important. The personal experience became paramount. There was no longer a need for an alarm clock, on most mornings I would wake early, anxious to see what the morning sky would bring. I would often walk slowly to the end of one public pier or another, creation colorfully unfolding before me, with a feeling of complete humility, and of wonder. I came to realize that I am a part of something much larger than myself. The opportunity to greet the sun each day is something I now perceive as a gift, perhaps one of the greatest gifts of all.
Standing at the water's edge so often, you gain an awareness of nature's splendor. I can't tell you the number of times I've seen a wall of fog roll down the river, or the number of waves I've heard slap the shore, or the number of geese I've heard in the distance, or the number of times a flock of birds has darkened my view. All of it wondrous; all of it miraculous. I've learned there is no need to venture from Havre de Grace to witness God's handiwork at its finest.
A facebook page, Havre de Grace Sunrise 365, was launched to showcase the images resulting from my daily sunrise escapades. The support offered by so many means a great deal to me. As beautiful a place that Havre de Grace is, it's the people who live here that makes it so very special. I feel like my efforts of the past year were worthwhile when someone comments that a particular image gives them peace or makes them smile.
I'm sometimes asked if there's one photo that stands out more than the others. The photo taken on September 11 at Tidewater Marina is my favorite because of the associated undercurrents. The town had just escaped a potentially catastrophic flood. At the same time, we were all remembering the dreadful events that occurred just 10 years earlier. On that emotional morning, Susquehanna Hose Co., House 4 was gracious enough to bring in Heavy Rescue 551 for this unusual sunrise photo. Anyone who has called upon the brave volunteers of this town in a time of need, we had a house fire some years back, can understand why this photo means so much to me. It was a morning that I'll remember for the rest of my life.
The question of day: Will the daily sunrise photos continue in the future? Join me on Havre de Grace Sunrise 365 on Monday morning to learn the answer.