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By Arthur H. Gunther III


Look at the photograph above these words, and what do you see? Is it dawn or dusk? The answer might mean you are an optimist or a pessimist. Or perhaps you like endings better than beginnings.

This image was taken in the morning near Dennis, Cape Cod, off the King’s Highway and near the bay. The tree has survived winter storms and had lost a main trunk, but it has lived. Its fate could have been different if the tree faced the Atlantic across the island at Falmouth. Optimism.

When I shot this photograph some years ago, the brightness of that particular morning, the briskness of it, made me think fall was coming though it was still summer. I suppose that was my early-day optimism, certainly not shared by the beach-goers who would arrive two hours later in high-80s temperature. “Yes, thank you,” they would say to the sun. To me: “Go home, autumn lover.” Optimism began for the vacationers when the bright sun kissed their rental bungalow screens with the beckoning of a full day of light and heat.

On the Cape at least, the setting sun can also mean optimism, for it is the ritual there to gather waterside and clap as the bright orb sets for its nightly nap. It’s like tucking a child in bed, the parent reassured that all is right, and that the promise of growth will continue after a good rest. So, too, with a rising sun on the next new morn. Optimism.

After I made this shot, I headed off for coffee, which is another optimistic time for my mornings. The caffeine rush, the strength of the brew, the childhood recollection of working people in my hometown diner drinking java from green glass cups — all set the day right for me, from the start.

So, on Cape Cod,  in my Blauvelt, N.Y., home, or wherever you are, I hope it’s the freshness of the rising sun that gets you going.

The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached at ahgunther@yahoo.com. This essay may be reproduced.