Monday, November 29, 2010

Walking in the Dark

My body (and house of my spirit) has a mind of its own.
 Like clockwork, it rouses me from sleep at 5 a.m. every day.
It wants to walk in the dark.

 Somewhere between sleep and awakening, I argue the reasons for staying abed--the warmth of the blankets, soft comforts of the mattress, the scent of the sweet one sleeping next to me...wouldn't you
 rather (I say to my other self) loll around in the sheets anticipating the day and dreaming a little longer?
I rarely win.
By 5:30, my legs carry me out the door
 and into the wonders of the night.

The splendid solitude of the dark comes with quiet companions.
The moon, for one, lends mystery and magic to aerobics and the art of night strolling. Waxing or waning, occasionally disappearing behind a mist of clouds or disappearing altogether, it can be counted on for a friendly crescent smile, a full-blown circle of light, or a moonbeam kiss for keeping it company.
For another, my long black shadow, defined by streetlights, leads me down the very center of the shell-crush, traffic-free street--a death-defying feat if done by day. The cats who live on the corner of Orange Street and San Marco sit stoically on their paver driveway as I pass by--except for the black one whose padded feet always scurry across my path.

Lanterns of all sorts light the way. Lightposts, security lights, and streetlights prevent stumbling and, as Christmas draws near, more houses wear garlands of light that wink and glitter from rooftops. Single LED candles greet travelers from Amanda's windows and, although it's the first of December and she's hung a wreath on the door, two jack-o-lanterns still wickedly grin from Margaret's walkway. Year round, the elusive glow of television coming from houses of resident night owls always mark my route.

 The silent night composes a quirky nocturnal song.
It's done with the whispers of sprinklers furtively watering lawns against water-use rules, the sloshing of wet clothes in the washing machine parked in old Mr. Soderholm's carport, and the 6 o'clock chime of the hallway clock at 525 Glen Oak Road. On Larchwood, monk parakeets chatter and squabble from their nest in a Canary Island palm and, once a week, a mysterious moving vehicle creates rhythmic slaps on the concrete with rolled-up newspapers tossed from its window.

+   +   +

Walking in the dark requires no sunscreen, the gulf-coast air moisturizing my skin.
 Breathing in and breathing out, my pace slows after three miles.
  My body's feeling fine, my spirit lifted up.
 As I turn a corner near the lake district, an elusive potpourri drifts by--
is that sea salt, fireplace smoke, and jasmine blooming on the vine?
It must be the magic hour--just before the sun slips over the edge of the earth.
A new day is about to happen.

 As I turn toward home, school children, talking on cell phones and waiting for the bus,
 huddle together at the corner of Bal Harbour and Jacaranda.
 Four doors from my house, the man with three kids, a carpet-cleaning truck and
 five bicycles runs on the treadmill in his opened garage.
A dog walker, plastic bag in hand, emerges with the family hound and,
 next door, Carmen's kitchen light is on.
Everything's as it should be.

 Mr. Softie's up--
the smell of coffee greets me as I step inside my door.
6:30 and all's well with the world.


Laura said...

You almost entice me to set the alarm a bit earlier and take that morning stroll!

Lovely little trip I took this morning with you.

Shellbelle said...

What a lovely post. I'm always up early, usually between 5 and 6, occasionally earlier. I love greeting the dawn of the new day. Since I moved from the beach, I seldom go walking, but I enjoy the quiet in the house and that first cup of coffee. Ahhh…I love mornings best!

Kaybe said...

What Shellbelle says is true. When I 1st met her 17 years ago she had a quote on her fridge about being an early riser which at the time I thought was insane. Over the years I have shifted my body clock to being "able" to rise as early as I choose. The sounds of the planet waking up are the best way to start a day. A man who invented Sonicbloom fertilizer actually has studied the effect of the pre-dawn birdsong on plants. It causes them to open their receptors up fully to receive the early morning dew. I figure that works for me too :)

mimi said...

I admire your dedication, sounds like a perfectly lovely way to start the day.

lakeviewer said...

Yes, it must be exhilarating and meditative as well. Do be careful of stray dogs and stray cats. I used to take morning runs when I worked, before anybody else was out, feeling on top of the world.

S. Etole said...

This would make a wonderful addition to:

Such a descriptive walk you've shown us.

Julie@beingRUBY said...

You make getting up at 5:30 almost sounds desirable!!! I'm a bit of a night owl and i think what I like about it is the quiet .. the world asleep and my mind gets a chance to stop... I guess that is what you find too.. and a wonderful way to start your day... Beautiful prose Becky.. Perhaps I should try it.. but so hard to change old habits... the Oprah thing.. I believe it was a fight to get tickets...The Oprah house is the white building in those harbour images I posted.. perhaps I should send one to Oprah.. hahahaha... ciao ciao xxx Julie

Pooch Purple Reign said...

im a bit of a night owl too. i am trying to change it around but now it is dark soooo early here and even in the morning. maybe in the spring
beautiful post
~laura x

Dimple said...

I also love morning, but not so much for walking. I love the quiet time before the work of the day, whatever it is, begins. In summer I do sometimes take morning walks with my camera, when the light is long and low; those times are magic!

I hope you find Postcrossing fun!

Stacey Dawn said...

Well - I can't say that I don't win the argument to stay in bed when I wake up in the dark like that. I stay where it's warm - OR get up for coffee and devotions...but not a walk!! Glad you enjoy it!

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

That was beautiful! And reminds me of my early morning ocean sojourns. Yep...ALL is right with the world!

Leslie said...

This is quite lovely. You have a great ability to take us with you on these rambles, whether they are trips down memory lane, or in this case, an early morning walk. I know what you mean about the comfort of the everyday sights and sounds of morning in one's neighborhood...

And thanks, so very much, for your kind comments on my recent post. Living with chronic illness brings weights that need to periodically be thrown off. I can't seem to do that without God's help... and poetry is such a balm for expressing those "dark nights of the soul."

emily wierenga said...

oh wow. i've never felt the need to get up that early before, until reading this, and suddenly, i'm envious of you and the nocturnal song and wanting (almost) to get up then, too :) a beautiful write, friend. i hope you'll join me again this week for imperfect prose. xo

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Beautiful post. Although, I must say that those who arise at 5:30am with vigor for the day give me reason to roll over and loll. Someone has to do it.

My husband rises at 5:30. I think that is when I begin my deep sleep. Have always wanted to be a morning person, but my body doesn't seem to work that way. I envy the world you experience. I know the moon from 2am though I don't go walking then. Enjoyed it.

Drawn to The Sea said...

I feel like I took every step with you, Becky. What a perfect way to start the day, watching the world wake up with you.

A magic hour indeed. The other is the hour before dark.

Peaceful day to you,

Susan Erickson said...

Sounds like just the kind of walk I would love! I get up early too but usually rush off to the public swimming pool at this time of year. Florida sounds so enticing! When we winter holiday in tropical climates we always do the predawn walk so I know how enchanting it can be. The parrots in the palm caught my attention especially. Such imagery makes this post one of my favorites....thanks for the morning sights! best, Susan

B. Meandering said...

You made me feel as if I was right there running beside you---loved this! You almost make it sound fun---almost.:)
The images you conjured up for us with your words about your neighborhood and your neighbors are magical. I thorougly enjoyed this!

RuneE said...

Nature's own night-lamp :-) but a bit early for me :-)

Mara said...

Hi Becky! your post is like a fairy tale! But I have to admit that I get up 7.30 am...and I don't think I could make it better! I love to sleep!
Many hugs!

Rachel Cotterill said...

I wish I knew how to get up early like that! My husband has to bring me a drink before I can get out of bed ;)

Sarah said...

Delighted to meet you. Hope you don't mind if I splash around a bit to get to know you. No worries, if I make a mess I'll make sure to clean up.


emily wierenga said...

thankful for you, beautiful becky. xo