Beautiful out there this morning. Warmer than yesterday and breezy. As I stepped out for a walk with the pups, I noticed a faint sweetness on the wind, something blooming nearby, but what I’m unsure of. But I think it’s citrus from the yard across the street. It’s quieter this morning than it has been, just the sounds of our footsteps and the breeze in the trees. The skies are clear, more clear than they’ve been in a while, and I stop and look up at the stars. I’m not the best at reading stars, but I do recognize a few things and my eyes pick up on the Big Dipper in the west. No sign of Orion this morning, though… but it is a different time of year, and the stars change with time, much like ourselves. Quiet, quiet quiet… as we move through the neighborhood, it seems like the city has calmed down from that frantic, time-change, clock rush of just a few days ago. The city has figured out that, no, they won’t be late for work… push that snooze button. As we turn for the loop home, and we crest The Hill, I can see the Tehachapis silhouetted against the impending dawn… a long lumpy horizon against a Parrish blue sky… I just stop and stare… and there, above, like an exclamation point, is Venus… And the peak of Bear Mountain points straight up at it… I stand there, soaking it all in, relishing this moment… and I see the faintest orange creep up from the horizon… It’s so clear out, the dawn will be piercing, and sharp, and crisp, in just a little while… better bring your sunglasses.
I was up early, so I got the pups up early for our walk. Just a little after five, and we’re out the door. I’m sure the wife thinks I’m crazy, but I was awake and couldn’t sleep, and if I’m getting up the pups usually get up, too, so… out the door we go. It’s warm out this morning, warmer than it’s been. I have a long sleeve shirt on over my t-shirt, and by the end of the walk even that feels too much. I am already missing the winter. And before anyone responds with how bad a winter it’s been, I live in California and we had an exceptionally dry winter and we’re facing the worst drought on record… so, yes, I will miss winter, thank you. But there are clouds overhead… so maybe we’ll get some sprinkles? I can hope… so I do. And we walk in our neighborhood, up the hills, into the little gulleys, along the sleeping homes… and, even at this early in the morning, I see neighbors out for their morning. A lady walking here, a man on this street for his exercise… and, of course, the usual dog-suspects are all awake, warnings coming from behind fences and in dark back yards. The pups and I do our thing, still, and continue on our way. This morning little Jack is lagging a bit, so I slow my pace a little. He’s the eldest of the three. And he’s the smallest… not that you could tell by his spirit, though. Jack will try to dominate a Great Dane… I know, I’ve seen him do it at the dog park! But perhaps today he’s not quite feeling himself… Cathi and I watch for little hints as all three of our pups are older now. But he still loves these morning walks and is always eager for them. He gets so excited I can hardly keep him quiet in the mornings… On and on, we walk, we listen, we watch, we walk… Even this early, the neighborhood is awake.
Woke up a little grumpy this morning… But the pups didn’t care and wanted to go for a walk anyways. Who am I to argue? It is crisp and clean out this morning… But for some clouds in the skies, making for gorgeous sunrise, I can see all the way to the circle of mountains at this end of the valley this morning. It looks like the Tejons got a dusting of snow at some point. I didn’t think it had been cold enough for that these last few days… But I could see all the way back up there to the pass and that ridge between us and L.A. and there’s a nice white sprinkle, like confectioners sugar across a cake…
A beautiful morning and a great morning for a walk with the dogs. Cool and breezy… And the skies! The clouds in the east were aflame with color from the approaching sunrise. Deep crimsons… As we walked, all I wanted to do was stop and watch… So I did. Several times. Each time I stopped and turned to the east to see how the dawn was unfolding, the colors in the clouds changing… Reds… Then orange… And then peach… And I wondered, as I walked with the pups, I wondered… Am I the only one to see this this morning? If these moments weren’t so fleeting, would I still stop for long looks? And as it passed, I wondered, over the next hill, the next mountain, is someone standing there, now, looking to the east, watching the approaching dawn, mesmerized as I was, breathing in all this glory?
We stepped out into the dark with only the morning star and the gentle light of the impending day to greet us. I could see the faintest hint of a deep red on the horizon, draped on the shoulders of Bear Mountain and the ridge line to the north. The neighborhood was already alive with the noise of Friday, an exclamation mark to the week that had come. Birds, trains, dogs, garbage trucks… everyone was awake. No sneaking quiet this morning. It’s funny to me how different each morning is around this same time. The pups and I walked along, with me looking over my shoulder to keep an eye on the dawn. More cars, a gardener and his truck, I pull the pups close and stick to the gutter as we walk the busier streets. We turn to the east, its the hill with the fire hydrant, the one that looks out across the east towards the mountains. The colors in the sky dazzle me… I stand and just look. Deep reds, oranges a hint of peach and pink… It almost hurts to look at it, to take it all in, and for that moment I feel like I am the only one in this universe, and this show in the sky, it is all just for me… As I am standing there, thinking this, looking at the spectacle of color, it subtly changes… the colors grow softer, the intensity diminishes just a little. I am awash in gratitude… That was the apex, that moment, there by the hydrant, there with the dogs oblivious to anything other than the smells on the grass, and it has just passed… The rest of the walk is literally downhill… And we turn for home, and I think of coffee, and as I walk along the final block to home, my nose catches just a hint of cooking bacon on the air… and I smile.
I got up and walked the dogs before dawn…. The moon, both this morning and yesterday morning, was big and beautiful in the early darkness, hovering in the west, done with its nightly journeys… The dawn was big and open and blue, oh so blue…. With one lone pink contrail bisecting the skies overhead, piercing into the east. I love the way the sun, before it arrives, lights up and colors the clouds in the morning… And so often, these visions I get to see, these smiles from the Universe, from Spirit, only last a few minutes, sometimes not even that… And I stop, me with the dogs, and I look up into the morning and just watch, just look, and I say thank you…
It’s cold out there this morning. There’s frost on the roofs and on the lawns. The doves huddle close on the phone lines, quiet. Yet the sun comes, dancing golden in the tops of the trees. It’s dancing on the lawns, it’s dancing into our lives. The light warms the roofs, it warms the streets, its warms our hearts.
I’m up early this morning. Excited about being back in school, about seeing the new kids, about teaching. I’m up early enough that I had to wake the pups from their slumber to walk the neighborhood. First, Sophie asleep on the couch. Then Teddy, always vigilant when walks are concerned and eager to go once he realized. Then I had to roust old Jack, sleeping deeply, but once he saw what was going on, he was ready, too.
Up before the dawn, all of us out the door. It’s cold, but not as cold as it has been, as it could be. Up and out before the dawn, so there’s no sunrise to report about. We walked and walked and it was silent but for one rooster some streets over. We walked before the sun, we walked before the birds awoke, we walked before the garbage trucks, we walked before the day began. We walked for me, for the pups, for you. We walked for the quiet city still asleep… We walked for the stars above, circling endlessly. We walked to call the sun forth to light our way and to warm our day. We walked and walked, quietly here, but for the jingle of tags and the squeak of one man’s old shoe. We walked for the day, to call forth from the dark. We walked. We walked.
It’s cold, and dark, and grey… and still the birds sing… There’s no doubt it’s winter, as the pups and I go for a Friday walk. It’s a little later than usual, and we have the benefit of some daylight on the streets. Everywhere there are mini drifts of leaves, in the gutter, against that fence, beside the parked car. The trees are all mostly bare now, but for a few of the evergreens in the neighborhood and the one or two trees that always outlast the first frosts. Mostly there are just bony fingers, pointed up, reaching into the sky, as if to claw at the clouds, to tear open a whole in winter. And the birds sing. And sing. They’re happy despite the impending rain. A neighbor passes on their way to work and smiles at the sight of me and three dogs, and waves. We continue, trying to avoid the drive time rush around us on the more heavily used streets. And we turn onto the quiet little road with the curve over the hill. You know the road, I talk often of this road. It’s the road that starts the walk towards home. It’s the road that crests, the road with the view of Bear mountain. But today there is no view. There is only the grey clouds and there is only a chill wind that makes me wish I’d brought my scarf, and I pull my corduroy jacket a little closer, and I try to pull my hands up into my sleeves a little farther. And we head back down the hill, to the turn north, and onto another busy street, and on towards home, and light, and warmth, and hot coffee. And still, the birds sing!