Image: February 11, 2023, 7:17 a.m., Eugene, Oregon. 38°, mostly cloudy, 86% humidity, dew point 35°, air quality 22, 109° E. I ran on the trails through the forest and ridge line starting when it was still dark. The sun rose a few minutes after I returned to the place I started.
This past year I have spent many months away from home. Usually, when I am gone for a considerable length I start to feel unsettled and unrooted. It doesn’t feel as specific as being homesick. It is more of a vague sense of being adrift. It is not comfortable.
Although it still happened, it wasn’t as poignant. The sunrise gave me roots.
The ritual of taking a photo of the sunrise evolved during my last trip at the beginning of the new year. Instead of just taking the photo and documenting the time, I began to document the place, the air temperature and weather, the relative humidity, and the dew point. When I returned to Oregon in February I included the air quality and then the specific direction of the sunrise.
It is currently rising above the horizon at 109º East. I use a compass to face the sun.
The information is embedded into each image’s metadata. Witnessing the sunrise is deliberate and it has a series of actions or protocols.
Sometimes the only thing that I remember of a particular day is the sunrise.
I have been home in Oregon for ten sunrises. Over that time I changed where I stand to take the photo as I found a place that has a less obstructed view of 109º E.
The unmoored sensation has not entirely left my body and psyche since my return. Now that I am home I still reach for sunrises in Colorado, and even in New Hampshire.
This morning I started running in the forest one hour before sunrise. It was the first time since my return. My feet hit the ground to the rhythm of the light slowly illuminating the land. My breath joined the wind in the trees. I listened to the birds announce the blue light of the morning as I ran, replacing the hoots of the owl.
The sun rose at 7:17 a.m. at 109º East near where the tree-filled hill dipped low.
I never actually see the sun at sunrise. There is always something hiding its first golden sliver of an arc rising from the horizon. The hill. The tree. The line of houses.
Today I feel less adrift and more at home. The feeling of home includes the memory of standing in the snow 1,200 miles from here eleven sunrises ago, as well as a month ago.
Home has expanded.