It was still, very still.
The house was dark, although outside the sky was starting to lighten. It was going to be a beautiful morning.
The clock read 5:12. I had plenty of time to make the Easter Sunrise Service at Warwick Neck. The service is one of my favorites. The location overlooks Patience and Prudence Islands with a panoramic view to Jamestown and the bridges. It’s truly commanding. That’s part of it. At Easter, the lighthouse is special. There is this sense that the night sentinel is giving way to the brightness of a new day.
Not always does the sun make its appearance on Easter. I remember mornings when people braving the elements carried umbrellas and huddled together to fight off the wind and the cold. This Easter was not one of those. The night sky was clear. The water was flat and the low 40s temperature didn’t call for layers of clothes.
With time to spare, I turned on the computer and went through e-mail. Even on early Easter it was coming in, but slower than a weekday. Ollie poked his nose in the door; his eyes reflected the glow of the computer monitor. He pushed his way into the room with tail waving and announced he was ready to start the day with a sneeze and a shake. Carol was up, too.
“Guess he’s ready to go out,” she said.
She already had the leash. She wouldn’t be taking any chances after the encounter with a skunk Friday morning. That happened before sunrise as she and Ollie stepped out the back door. Neither spotted the black and white visitor until the door closed behind them, but the skunk was on full alert. Carol said it looked enormous with its tail up and barely 10 feet away.
Fortunately, the skunk didn’t press the issue and Ollie was firmly leashed. With some tugging, Carol pulled Ollie away and into the dog pen. By this time, Ollie overcame his initial shock, or maybe emboldened by the fact that he wouldn’t be getting out of the pen and the skunk wouldn’t be coming in, he started howling. It’s not the kind of thing that your dog should do at 5 in the morning, unless you don’t care about neighbors.
The skunk took no notice and sauntered off.
Nevertheless, Carol wasn’t going to take any chances. Bathing Ollie in vinegar and water, or tomato juice, was not my idea of how to spend Easter. Carol flicked on the porch light for a quick check before taking Ollie out. It was clear. There was no howling and they were back in five minutes.
By now, a red glow stretched the horizon. Birds awakened. It was still before 6 and I still had plenty of time. By the time I pulled out of the drive, it was after 6 and I realized I had miscalculated. The sun wasn’t up, but it was already bright. Warwick Neck Avenue was empty. Usually, on Easter morning, there’s a steady stream of cars headed for Warwick Light. Not this time.
The answer became obvious when I reached the crest of Warwick Neck and could see the sliver of red rising above the distant Bristol shore. I was too late. Beyond the Warwick Country Club, cars lined both sides of the road as they have in years past. I gambled that I would find a parking space closer to the light and I did.
A couple was already leaving, but the service was still going on. The scene was as I remembered from previous perfect Easters. People faced east, bathed in the day’s new light. It was peaceful. A quahogging skiff left waves rippling on the black waters. The service was coming to a close. People turned to wish each other happy Easter. I returned the wishes and chatted with Jim Dorney and his family as we headed toward our cars.
It was the shortest Easter sunrise service I’ve attended. I wasn’t even at Warwick Light for the sunrise. But there’s no way of mistaking the feeling of that place with the energy of a new day and the promise of Easter.