As the sun rises slowly above Orient Point, a gentle sea breeze rolls off the dunes to pass between the reeds and sea grass. The sun’s light moves farther west, passing between the boats moored at Greenport Harbor; the docks empty thanks to the frigid temperatures. The light continues its constant trek east, glistening off of the waters of the Peconic, down through the heart of downtown Riverhead. The area has struggled for decades to come into its own after peaking early on, and finally, the town’s efforts at growth seem to be gaining traction.

In Manorville, the sun’s light reflects off the pitch pines and empty asphalt of County Route 111. In recent years, the area has seen growth unlike that of its neighbors farther west, but the area still retains its comparative emptiness. Across the rolling, open, worked fields of Yaphank, the light darts toward areas more densely populated, rapidly touching the vast acres of woodlands that span the area. In Miller Place, the soft glow touches the sands of Cedar Beach as it moves to reflect off the vinyl siding of residences in Farmingville, the bagel stores in Centereach and the Old Field Lighthouse on the windswept bluffs. For a brief moment, the light reflects off of Stony Brook University Hospital, creating a powerful, eastward, red glare that is visible for miles.

In Smithtown, the statue of Whisper the bull is greeted by the morning, while the light softly reflects off of the war memorials in front of the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge and races down Veterans Memorial Highway. In Bohemia, the sun’s early morning light touches off the still headwaters of the Connetquot River, while nearly at the same time dancing off the Nissequogue. In Brentwood, the light touches the empty chapel at the Sisters of Saint Joseph, illuminating the dusty stained-glass windows that once brought solace to the orders of nuns and students who strolled the building’s massive corridors. To the south, in Babylon, the statue of Robert Moses,  as well as the waterfowl at Argyle Park welcome the dawn, all while the morning’s light glints off of the Robert Moses Causeway, casting a soft pink glow on the rolling waves of the Great South Bay.

North, the office towers in Melville suddenly become illuminated, as does Main Street in Huntington, which is already comparatively busy in anticipation of a busy day ahead. From the spires of Oheka Castle, to Jayne’s Hill in West Hills County Park, the light intertwines with the trees and glacial buffs along the Island’s terminal moraine. Here, the trees shelter the earth from the sun’s warming rays, but soon the soft eastward breeze will move the canopy of trees just enough to allow the light to fully pour in.

From the 9th hole at Bethpage Black, to under the overpasses of the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway, the light creeps farther toward South Oyster Bay Road and hits the large, flat windows of the Midway Jewish Center. The sun’s reach extends by the minute, bouncing off the estates in Lattingtown, off of the platform on Merrick Train Station and weaving in between the increasing traffic on Sunrise Highway. In Freeport, the armory’s morning dew begins to evaporate, as the light stretches across the still waters of a cold Manhasset Bay, down the sleeping storefronts of the Miracle Mile and back toward the entrance of Valley Stream State Park.

At last, the light hits the Nassau County – Queens border, sunrise on Long Island is complete, and a new day has dawned.