Groundhog Day 1978
The alarm clock was set for 4:30 a.m., but as is so often the case I was wide-awake at 4. So I rose from my soft bed in a cozy cabin in Sequoia Park, moving quietly so as not to disturb my lovely bride of a mere 34+ years, donned warm clothes for this chilly August morning, grabbed my already-loaded light pack, and sallied forth. A short drive to the empty parking lot at the base of 600′ Moro Rock, and I was on my way.
By day, Moro Rock is infested by ladies in high heels, men in business suits, and barefoot teenagers all puffing up the easy trail to the top. But in the starlight I was alone. And with each step I felt more alone until soon I was at the level top. Alone between the sleeping park below me and the canopy of uncountable stars above. Between was a ring of hill silhouettes—and a complete circle clearly defined against the luminous sky. East was marked by an almost painfully brilliant Venus and a very slightly lighter sky color. West, below the horizon the lights of a distant town sparkled through a valley.
I unshipped my faithful Rollei camera and guessed wildly on some hand-held time exposures. Got a beautiful one of Venus I’d be happy to show with very little urging. I snacked from my knapsack. I sat on the rock, and I slowly paced the top, looking all directions, but chiefly East as I waited for the new day which was scheduled to begin just for my benefit. Do you recall the scene from Black Orpheus where Orpheus tells the boy that the sun would not rise unless he played it up on his guitar? Well, this morning of August 22, 1977, Orpheus could take the day off. Even without a guitar I new the sun would rise for me.
Meanwhile, I think back over the past eventful year. It began on GHD 1977, an unseasonably warm day (with no shadow for the Groundhog) so I jogged home for the first time in 1977—and got caught by a TV Camera! So, at 6 p.m. that evening, there I was, sweatshirt and all, on the evening news—for all of 10 seconds!
The East is definitely lighter. Around the horizon again with my camera, now set at 2.8 and 1/5th.
Some seven weeks later, on March 23, I appeared on TV for the second time in two months—which was also the second time in my 56+ years. This was part of a delayed documentary of our particular Minneapolis neighborhood which had been shot the previous fall and showed me alongside my 5-foot tall Brussell Sprouts.
Most of the stars have faded now and Venus is dimming fast. There is a red spot on Sawtooth Peak just south of east. The sun is coming.
It was really a year of public exposure. Friday, July 1 dawned cloudless and comfortably cool and Thea and I easily persuaded each other that the weekend would probably be sweltering thunderstorms (or maybe snow—I’ve forgotten the details) so we should play hooky and pack a picnic lunch for nearby Pike Island. While there, we encountered the only other hiker on the Island who turned out to be Ben Kern, the nature columnist for our Minneapolis Tribune. And sure enough, there in his column July 10, we were mentioned by name, together with our wise observations about the relative advantages of engineering, computing, and hiking.
Venus has gone. A solitary little cloud in the northeast has turned from red to pink to white. Several swallows are swooping about Moro Rock. Time for just one more thought.
And that thought concerns, of course, the most important event of the year. Namely, the birth on March 5, 1977 of April Hodge Greenberg, the most beautiful and wonderful baby ever born anywhere (I know—Thea already told you about it. But with such understatement!).
Time to stop thinking and cock the camera. The Eastern sky is about to burst. There it is! A sliver of deep red. Click. Decrease the exposure. The sliver grows. Click. Still less exposure. Now a jagged semicircle. Click. Smallest opening at 1/500th. One more click as the sun bounds free of the distant mountains. A new day has begun, started by me—TV star, newspaper celebrity, and, most important, Grampa.
May this year be as good for you as the last one was for me.