Whenever people ask me about my commute and I tell them it is generally two and a half hours one way, the usual response is “You must really love where you live.” And I do. I love my little piece of the Litchfield Hills. I’m in an area that is rural but not remote. There’s wealth and poverty; town greens and strip malls; huge farms and small industry. My neighbors have horses and the local Hunt Club rides through the nearby open fields.
I’ve learned to love the early mornings, right after sunup, when the air is filled with golden light. The hills around me glow and I feel an incredible sense of peace. This light and time of day always triggers a strong memory from childhood. The odd thing is, it’s not a country memory, it’s a city memory.
I was born and spent the first six years of my life in Hoboken NJ. If you don’t know anything about Hoboken, watch “On The Waterfront”. It was filmed there the year I was born. My aunt was a girl scout leader and I often went with her to the troop meetings and on field trips. Whenever we were going on a trip, we would have to be the first ones at the gathering spot to meet the scouts as they arrived. This particular morning, we were going by charter bus to someplace that must have been at some distance because we had to be there quite early. We had gotten up and ready in the semi-darkness. Then we walked a few blocks to where we were all meeting. My aunt stopped at the corner store and got a container of tea for her and a roll and butter for me. So much has changed now, but back then, there were certain corners, where if you looked east, you could see straight across the Hudson and right down a NYC crosstown block, to the outer boroughs and the sunrise. I was only about five or so but I remember thinking I had never seen the sun come up before. It was a Saturday, so there was almost no traffic at that time of day, and it was quite except for the occassional car. The air was chilly and the semi-darkness made outlines of objects indistinct. Slowly, as the sun continued to rise, everything began to glow. At first, it was with a purplish light but then, as the sun rays struck buildings and cars and lamp posts, they turned gold. The areas that remained in shadow first deepened to a dark, almost black, blue. Then gradually, faded to ever lighter shades of grey. My aunt and I stood in silence, she sipping her tea and me eating my roll. I thought I had been transported to a magic place. I had never felt so peaceful. I’m sure I had seen beautiful things before, but in my memory, this was the first time my child’s mind recognized something as beautiful; something extraordinary. I don’t know how long we waited for the first girls to show up and break the spell. For me it was but a moment and an eternity.
That memory exists, amonst the axions and dendrites of my brain, waiting for a morning like today, to give it life again.