The sunrise was magnificent this morning.
I doubt I’ve ever used the word, “magnificent.” It’s too pompous, but the best fit for what I saw while driving to work. A giant orange-red ball sitting on the horizon, with reddish purple streaks shot through the surrounding sky.
Yesterday I took my coffee outside hoping to see something similar, but the sun came up without any ceremony. It was dark, and then it wasn’t.
October is one of my favorite months. It’s still warm and dry in my part of Texas, but the mornings are cool, and there is a hint of change to come. One may catch a speck of fall color, but most of the native leaves change from green to brown, taking their cue from yesterday’s sunrise.
This is the time of year to be outside. A friend said she took walks in the rain over the weekend; that’s where I want to be—walking in the rain.
I spent a day in the rain in West Virginia a few weeks ago. My dad and sister and I left the hotel early to visit my mother’s grave in Montrose. That’s a long way from here, but my mother never accepted the move to Texas that was forced on her when she was a teenager. None of her family did, apparently. First, we took my great grandparents back to West Virginia. Then my grandparents. Then my mother. There’s something about the mountains that calls you home. Even though I’ve always lived in Texas, I wouldn’t mind having my bones scattered over Randolph County with generations of relatives I never knew.
We arrived at the overcast cemetery next to the one-room church where my great, great grandfather preached long ago. It was already chilly in mid-September. My sister brought a little pot of mums and a pumpkin. “Mama needs her fall decorations.” Fall was mama’s favorite—she called me every year on September 1, and again on the first real day of fall, and again on the first cold front.
Before we finished, a cold, slow rain wrapped the hills in a beautiful haze. Just as when I was little, I couldn’t concentrate on the task and wandered around, looking at the names of relatives and strangers, feeling a longing in my throat for something I couldn’t describe, homesick for a place I’ve never lived. Hiraeth. With each year, there is no other word that is a better fit for my mood.
As I looked at my dad standing in the rain near the stone where he plans to one day rest, I felt love and pity and wanted to say something, yet a weak smile was all that I could manage.
We spent the rest of the day exploring some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen. Blackwater Falls State Park, where we went years ago with my great-grandparents when my sister and I still fought over the imaginary line in the backseat of our car. We hiked the falls trail and out to Lindy Point, all in the rain. After lunch and a porter in Davis, we made our way to the Dolly Sods Wilderness area, where we again hiked in the rain until near dark. Since there were signs warning that black bears were active, and no sign that humans were, we thought it best to bring the day to an end.
Rarely do I feel like I’m exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing. That day I did. It was magnificent.