From the last week of June until Labor Day I go to work with the fishermen. As a baker, my workday begins as early as I can manage. In late June, just after the summer solstice when my little business starts up for the season — and most of the customers are small kids who have been asking for two weeks about opening day — 4 a.m. comes like a kick in the shin. I am not used to this, being more or less a slugabed in the winter. Unless it’s raining hard, there is a riot of birdsong as dawn breaks in June, and the solitude is pleasant, and those things help. In June, the summer looks endless from my perspective, and the days look very long, indeed.

Two months later (meaning now) the appearance and the sound of the morning have changed. The birds are fewer. I start my day’s work in the dark.

By the end of August any useful consciousness at 4 a.m. has become a challenge. I manage on a sort of autopilot because there is no need for creativity or complex thinking. I know my job: the first thing is to take the butter out of the refrigerator to soften. Then, get washed and brushed and all that, tie up the hair in a bandanna, and decide whether I want the weatherman — should we happen to have reception that day — or the quiet. Make cinnamon rolls. Make blueberry cake.

There is something honorable about being present for the sunrise, something respectable (at least around here), but it’s a reciprocal feeling also filling me with a sense that respect is somehow due. It may be that paying attention when the sky goes from black to pink, by way of a gradation of colors some of which I cannot even name, is a sacrament. This is absolutely about the colors. My brain is wired so that anything brilliantly multicolored is irresistible. I do not know whether the lobstermen get all silly over the paint job, as I do, or if any fellow with work to do on deck would stand stone-still as if reverent toward physics and optics and meteorology. I’d bet if you asked, though, most would admit that they like being aboard the boat as the sky brightens and goes through its watercolor machinations.

Look, and look again, and again in less than a minute, because in ten seconds it will all be different. That is no small thing.

I haven’t got a terrific view to the east from here. My home is in the middle of this island and the ratty spruce forest, grown up after the end of truck-farms and oxen on this rock, obscures the horizon in every direction. (The woods won’t last. Check in again in a decade or two.) So I cannot tell you I have the benefit of the prettiest outlook on the island, which is just as well because I also cannot linger long to stare at the sky and study. There are doughnuts to fry. But I do stand and gawk a little bit out the kitchen window as the butter softens and the yeast for the cinnamon roll dough bubbles in the Kitchen Aid and the weatherman either does or does not show me pictures other people have taken of their sunrises. We are on the bitter edge of the digital signal radius, and such luxuries as TV are a bit of a toss-up, and very weather-dependent. Such luxuries as a colorful sunrise are also not to be dismissed.

I have never seen the “elusive green flash,” a rare blink of emerald light occasionally seen when the sun rises over a truly flat horizon like a calm sea (my husband has seen the green flash, back when he was going substitute sternman for one of the Bunkers years ago). Someday, I hope to have the privilege.

A good sunrise, like a colorful sunset, is about the physics of wavelengths and about particles in the atmosphere. Ash, dust, specks and bits are what we need, but not the low-level smog of cities. The stuff in the air has got to be in the right place. There’s nothing quite like a distant forest fire upwind to bring us red suns and orange skies, but the resulting haze is counter-productive to the best show. Then there is that bit about “Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.” Is that actually true? Often it is.

Soon my baking season will be over and it will not be required of me to rise with the fishermen. Watching the sun come up will become optional. I am not always that industrious, so I instruct myself sternly now, and hope I will listen: Get up and have a look. It’ll be worth it.