By Dave Coulter
What with the seasonal nature of my work I am rising earlier than normal these days and my alarm is set at half past four. And what with the restless nature of my seasonal work load I’m usually up before the alarm anyway. But I’m not complaining. Rising early has been a feature of my life since I had a paper route, and I look forward to the quiet time before most normal people wake up.
Actually it’s not really all that quiet these mornings. The robins in the neighborhood start their call and response about four. Some are nearby, gurgling their melodious greetings which receive faint or fainter responses from the robin collective in the local tree tops. I wish my hearing - as well as my knowledge of bird songs - were better at these moments. There is a depth and texture to this springtime symphony that is somewhat lost on me.
And let the record show that the cardinals chimed in at half past five.
It’s a cool morning, and damp, thanks to last night’s rain. It feels like an April morning ought to feel, which is comforting after That March. There are still patches of wet on the pavement that have not yet evaporated. At first glance the clouds above were all pink-orange gauze. This coloration not from an impending sunrise, but rather a reflection from the thousands of street lights from Chicago to the east. It could make one wonder if he woke up on Mars. Soon the clouds start to part here and there revealing a pretty spectacular shade of turquoise higher aloft.
But these things change you know, and more clouds drift in from the west and cover it all up. They have the look of rain, with more of the grey and violet hues. The only orange color now is way off to the east, caused this time by the sun. There is no wind and across the alley leaves on both the maple and elm hang lifelessly. The bird collective has quieted down too, and I wonder if they sense rain.
One lone cardinal performs a solo in the gloom.
By six the quality of light and sky has changed yet again, and it feels more like daytime. A fat moth bonks drunkenly into a streetlight, seemingly convinced that the night is still young. Somewhere mid-block a dove coos to life, and the clouds part encouragingly. Sparrows skitter and hop on the alley foraging for breakfast, and the low background rumbles of trains and traffic signal that many of you are now awake too.