As dawn goes down to day over Lake Ontario

Front and Yonge
Sunrise fire reflected on a building downtown

“Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flow;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.”

– Robert Frost

It’s mid-October and the trees are sporting shades of red, brown, yellow; some though are a little late to the season and are hanging onto their dark green summer foliage, while others have shed all their leaves. The sun is rising later and I now find myself leaving home in darkness – not something I can bring myself to complain about. The cold damp of the early hours of the morning when very few people are on the streets and the offices and condos in skyscrapers have not yet switched on all their lights is always refreshing.

Toronto: A silvery city

For the past month I’ve been admiring how the first rays of the day would touch the glass of the city’s downtown towers and low lying structures on my way to work.

One morning a fiery sky was reflected on the glass exterior of a building, making it look as though the building itself was on fire (above), even as the surrounding buildings were still in relative darkness. A week later the same building looked like molten silver (left).

I decided that I would spend a morning enjoying the sunrise and not while on my way to work. I would head down to Sugar Beach, a newly gentrified area near the Harbour Front area, and watch the sun come up over lake. I’m not a naturally early riser despite loving the morning twilight. It is now a habit – thanks to a job I have to get up early to commute to. So, early on a Saturday morning I found myself bounding down Sherbourne Street to get to the lake before sunrise.

Sugar Beach
Sugar Beach

I got to Sugar Beach, named for a neighbouring sugar refinery, where the white sand (shipped in and installed for CAD 337,500) and cotton candy pink umbrellas were dark and heavy with dew. As I moved quickly to the water’s edge I saw the familiar silhouette of a friend. He turned, saw me and waved me over as the first few beams of sunshine had shot out from the horizon. I skidded to a halt next to him, my eyes on the warm yellow orb that rose up over the Lower Donlands. I’d made it!

Nature’s first green is gold

The time from when the golden crown of the sun appears and the star is fully emerged is disappointingly short. I suppose though that it’s part of the charm of sunrise. Robert Frost was so right – ‘so dawn goes dawn to day.’

The trees near the lake have been holding on to their summer green, but the leaves facing east – the first to be exposed to the morning sun have started to change. Their edges were thicker, rouger and russet red. They were a bit like an unwary beach goer who’d forgotten the sunscreen at home and left their toes exposed, while the rest of the body lay under the shade of a large umbrella.

Autumn leaves

With the sun low over the eastern horizon and climbing up, my friend and I turned back towards the city. I could almost hear the bustle of an awakended Toronto. Now that the sun was up, the denizens of downtown Toronto headed to the Saturday farmer’s market at St. Lawrence Market. We too made our way there, stopping only to look at the lightening sand and pink umbrellas as the dew evaporated.

Sugar Beach in the morning sun
Sugar Beach in the morning sun

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