Monday, October 18, 2010

Before Sunrise

Fort Mason, 2010

The sun is sleeping much later these days, but I am not. Inspired by Alexandria, I've decided to venture out before the sun rises. One benefit of the days growing shorter is that the sun rises later and waking up to catch a glimpse of this beautiful part of the day becomes a little easier. I better scoot. I'll continue when I return.

I'm back. It was worth it. I strongly recommend giving it a try.

What I love most about sunrise and sunset is the way the light changes so rapidly and therefore changes the look of all that surrounds you just as rapidly. It's pretty amazing.

Today was overcast and it appeared all I'd see as the sun changed position was a shift from a dirty white sky to a dirty white sky that was slightly brighter, but then the sun started to break through and backlight the clouds, adding depth to the sky.

Looking into the bay from Fort Mason I saw small shimmering plates of silver just beneath the surface of the water. At first I thought they were reflections, but then I realized they were fish darting about. What I was seeing was the sun catching their scales at just the right angle. The fish shared this part of the bay with some hungry gulls, long strands of glistening seaweed lazily swaying, and a few giant orange starfish hugging the legs of the pier.

I ended the morning inside Greens. This is a well kept secret, so try and keep it to yourself. Greens Restaurant does not officially open until lunchtime, but they have a small to-go counter that is open in the morning. Purchase of a simple muffin or cup of tea at the to-go counter allows you access into the closed restaurant and your choice of a large selection of tables, each with a spectacular view. As if this were not enough, there are also several Annie Somerville cookbooks marked sample at the counter along with a couple copies of The Tassajara Bread Book that you are free to peruse while sitting at your table beside the bay.

I learned that Annie Somerville uses her chard stems. She simply slices them thin and combines them with the leaves. I checked The Art of Simple Food when I returned home and Alice Waters does the same. Why haven't I been doing this?

Starting my days by strolling into North Beach with Chris and conversing while sipping coffee is a beautiful thing, but this was a nice shift in perspective.

Okay, enough about me. How do you start your day? Do you love your morning routine or do you switch it up sometimes?


  1. your morning are incredibly poetic...
    I USED TO have mornings to myself and love waking up at dawn and having the world all to myself. But having kids changed that. When I wake up before them, I like a cup of perfectly brewed leaf tea sipped outside in the patio and a book to read along. Simple. Soothing.

  2. I love your writing because I can imagine what you speak of so easily. Being out early to see the water and then spending time in a quiet restaurant with a couple cookbooks...I can't think of anything better!

    A new thing I've been trying lately in the mornings is eating oatmeal with yogurt. I've never been a big fan of oatmeal, but for some reason the taste has been pleasurable and filling my tummy in just the right way before I venture off outside. It's funny how some things from childhood stick with us and it takes a long time to get over it. Thankfully oatmeal is a friend again.

  3. That's a beautiful photo. If I could do what you do I'd be filled with inner peace all day long (there's a total lack of silence in my life). No reason not to but my own inability to get up any earlier than I have to. It's shameful.

  4. You just convinced me to go to bed early tonight and wake up before the kids do tomorrow morning. Haven´t done that for a while!

    About the sunrise and sunset, in my home of origin (up north) it is a very slow process. I was amazed when I first saw the sunset in Italy, it went so fast!

  5. First off - I never knew people didn't eat the stalks of swiss chard, for me they're the best part!

    Mornings. I love week-ends and summer mornings as we aren't all doing 'the routine'. I'm always the first up, but only to get everyone else going. Like Mari, I think you've inspired me to try and do it a little earlier, to make some me time first thing in the morning. Easier said than done though!

  6. i don't know if my last comment took b/c i got an error page....

    try again.

    i've been catching some amazing sunrises too

    greens is fantastic

    i have some chard in my fridge for dinner tonight :D yay!

  7. I have always been a very early riser, and relish the private time with a cup (or two) of coffee (one of the best reasons to get up) feeding the cats, tiding the kitchen from the night before, considering the needs and wants of the day

    October skies in Tennessee, but dawn and dusk, have been astonishing, golden. How wonderful though to see those shimmering silver plates in the bay!

    re: chard stems YES absolutely good, just chop and cook a little longer, like 7 minutes, than the leaves

  8. What a way to start the day! I can imagine how tranquil and meditative an experience it is, one that sets the tone for the entire day thereafter. I really need to get my arse out of bed to watch the sun rise tomorrow....

  9. our alarm goes off at 6:30, one of us gets up and adds water to the already ground espresso beans. If that one is me, I stumble over to the computer and see what the Europeans and Australians have been up to while I was sleeping. Then I take my latte out to the little back deck and wait for birds and admire the garden ( or curse it) and generally hang around till 7:00 when it's time for dog walks, showers and buses.

    I love my morning time. i wish it was as pretty as yours.

  10. i really admire you for being able to get up so early so easy. i just can´t. when i don´t have to, i don´t.
    and i´m quite grumpy in the morning, i need my first cup of tea and a bowl of cereal to become a nice human again.
    but when i have to get up really early there´s nothing as amazing as the bikeride wherever i have to go in every kind of weather. nothing makes me feel more alive.

  11. my mornings. I get up about 45 minutes before the all the men and either knit, read or sit quietly with my coffee in hand. It's the way that I can tackle the rest of the morning and the day!

  12. I've never woken up intentionally to watch the sunrise. I'm not much of a morning person. I need to get pushed out of bed every morning :)
    I always preferred sunsets, there's something about them. They're more mystical I think.

  13. Amelia, A simple soothing morning with tea, patio, and book seems pretty poetic to me.

    alexandria, Thank you! I'm intrigued by your breakfast. A scoop of yogurt on top of your warm oatmeal? What type of yogurt? I might have to try this.

    mise, I'm usually terrible about waking up. It's the combination of travel and the change of season that has allowed me to rise early. Pure luck, really. I must take advantage while I have this window.

    Mari, I hope you enjoy your early rise. I'd love to see an extended sunrise and sunset. Your home of origin? Netherlands?

    Kate, I know, I know, I'm late to the chard stem game. I hope you are able to find a little me time soon.

    lisa, I'm not sure why your comment vanished. Bummer. I hope your chard was tasty. Our veg of the eve was cauliflower.

    nancy, I'm not at all surprised that you are an early riser. You seem to know how to find the good things in life. Thank you for the stem advice.

    Joanna, I hope you are able to see a nice rise soon. I believe you will find it well worth your while.

    flwrjane, Chris (my husband) liked your comment about waiting for the birds. He loved doing the same when we were living in Point Reyes. Me too. I miss the focus on the landscape, weather, and the creatures that we had when we were in West Marin. Your morning time seems very pretty to me.

    wsake, See my comment to mise regarding my waking early. I haven't taken a bicycle ride in the morning for far too long. I bet it is a beautiful way to start your days.

    Jane, I want to be more like you. This before sunrise business was a treat for me. I'm going to try to move toward the early to bed - early to rise state of being.

    Magda, I love sunsets too, especially the sunsets we saw during our recent trip to Italy. I also love to watch the sun set in West Marin while strolling along Limantour Beach. The sunsets in Grenada were amazing too. I think it is time to hunt down a beautiful sunset.

  14. Wow, such a beautiful way to begin a day Danisse. The quiet atmosphere of Greens and the meditative and perfect. You're a lucky girl to have that within walking distance!

  15. Wow, what a beautiful and elegant post with a stunning photo as well. Funnily, I've started getting up earlier because it feels like I'm missing out on things when I sleep longer. There's also that smugness of knowing how much you've seen before others even make it out of bed. My mornings have a steady routine; black tea with milk at the kitchen table, taking in the silence and the skyline with my book, then toast and out of the door.

  16. I love your description of morning. My routine is usually the same - sit, sip coffee, look out the window, read the night's email, then wake up my kids for school. I've been thinking I should do something more relaxing first thing like sit and read, and do the online stuff later in the day.

  17. I didn't know chard stems weren't eaten by everybody either. I guess the first time I ever had chard, the stems were included in the recipe (cooked longer) and I took it for granted that everyone ate them.

    I long for routine in my life...and if I had it, I'm betting it would be similar to your post. My best mornings though are the ones I get up before the sun, have some tea wrapped up in a blanket either inside or outside and just mentally prepare for the day. This happens about once a month...normally I get up and hit the ground running.

  18. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful picture.
    Today, for the first time in months, I set off for my morning walk, in the dark. Loved the colors in the sky and suddenly felt that the effort was worth it.

  19. what a lovely morning. though i've tried several times, i'm not much of an early riser so i'm always double-inspired by folks who can rise in the silence of the morning. love this post.

  20. wonderfully put! My mornings need to be (and are) tempered between early-up-before-the-sun days, and one or two days of staying-snuggled-under-the-covers. This time of year the early mornings are so rewarding - the moment when the sun rises and creates a gentle glow across the sky is utterly beautiful....