The chirping alarm clock wakes us at an ungodly hour, and I quickly prepare a thermos of hot chocolate. Muffins packed. Sweaters donned. Flashlights? Check. Blankets? Check. Keys? I pat my pocket, running through my mental checklist. We load up and drive the winding lane to the knoll.
It’s my 60th birthday, and I want to watch the sunrise. My ten-year-old granddaughter indulges my desire.
We spread a blanket on the smooth ledge, cupfuls of cocoa in hand, another blanket warming our laps. The stars behind us glimmer like luminescence in the sky’s black sea. To the east, they fade as dawn breaks. Clouds stream in heaven’s wind, a sheer sail unfurling over the slumbering land.
A light catches the corner of my eye. An iphone! “Gah! Turn that thing off.”
“I have to check one thing.”
My instruction is ignored. I emit a series of annoyed and exasperated groans, mutterings, and sighs.
“One minute,” she giggles, unswayed by my performance. “I’m looking something up.”
She leans into my shoulder and shares. “Did you know that light is actually all colors, and each color has a different wavelength. Blue is the shortest and red the longest.
“Different length lightwaves travel through space, and when they reach the atmosphere, they bounce off particles in the air. Like dust, water, and ice crystals, and tiny gas molecules. They scatter in lots of different directions.”
My subtle hints are failing to have an impact. She scrolls down. “When sunlight travels a short path through the atmosphere, tiny gas molecules scatter blue sunlight in all directions, making the sky blue. At sunrise and sunset, when light travels a long path, it’s mostly red and yellow.”
I sling an arm around her and sigh. “And I thought it was magic.”
She slides her phone into her pocket, and we “ooh” and “aah” as the sun bathes tiny gas molecules with gloriously long light waves.
“You know what else it said?” Apparently, my little scientist isn’t finished.
“That the clouds are a canvas on which nature paints her colors.”
“I like that,” I say.
“I thought you would. You see? It’s magic after all.”
In response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday #Writephoto prompt.
This is a work of fiction.