Photo of The Day

Photo of The Day: Somewhere, There's a Sunrise on a Sandstone Canyon

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Camera: Canon 5D | Lens: EF16-35mm f/2.8L | Setting: f/8, 1/20, ISO 100

On the fifth morning of a seven-day road trip I woke up just before dawn to trek three miles to the edge of Canyon de Chelly, the famous canyon in the Navajo Nation. My tripod and camera bag were ready, and I was amped with hopes of capturing a frame of the fiery glow of sunrise on sandstone. But . . .

My daughter heard me creep out of the tent.

"I wanna come," she said.

Get ready, because it's not as simple as, "Okay, sure. Let's both go." At the time she was 3 years old. And very awake with a crazy case of bed head going on. She didn't take "Go back to sleep" for an answer.

So fine. I abandoned my solo hike and photo shoot. We got up to start the stove and boil water. That's the routine. I get the water going in the morning so we can have our coffee and hot chocolate. She complained that she was cold and I used that as an opportunity to tell her that she should have stayed snuggled in the tent. Sure, I was bitter as hell and obviously still without coffee. Then she needed to go potty. That means she got cold again when we took off the footy pajamas to, you know, go pee.

She wanted me to carry her. And she wanted her hot chocolate, is it ready yet? And she said she was cold, super duper cold. She asked for breakfast, but don't put me down I want you to hold me because I'm cold.

Then, just as the sun began to light up the sky, I heard the gentle and fitting sounds of Navajo flute music. It was far but close, just a single flute and an especially nice melody. At first, I believed that it was the happy old toothless Navajo man who ran the campground who played the sweet sounds. I wanted that to be true. It would have fit him, and it would have added a touch of you-don't-get-this-anywhere-else to this funky campground we found at the last minute the night before.

The March morning was cold, but just a touch of frost coated the juniper leaves all around us. The air was still and silent, which might be hard to imagine, except for that light flute playing somewhere in the distance. It was perfect, the small surprise of native music whispering its sounds to the crisp morning, and to the groggy campers like myself who could use a pleasant, tacit welcome to a new day. If I'd been on my hike, I would have missed it.

"Chloe," I asked. "Do you hear that?"

"What?"

"That music. Do you hear it?"

"Yeah." And then she yawned.

"That's neat, isn't it?" I asked her.

"Yeah. It's awesome, Papa."

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# Guest 2013-01-01 23:41
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