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  • jrblackburnsmith

Are You a Morning Person?

I usually get up at 4am during the week. This is when I write, a habit I acquired when my three children still lived at home and it was the only time I could get on the family computer. I love having time alone is a quiet house, with a cup of coffee, to lose myself in the creative work I love. Now I have two Boston Terriers who also get up at 4am; as long as they get a quick walk they are happy to go back to bed and sleep for a couple more hours next to our old retriever who no longer does anything at 4am.

Going outside that early can be an amazing experience. Right now, Orion is visible low on the southeastern horizon and it is absolute quiet, except for the occasional car that drives past the house. If the car is headed south, towards Columbus, I assume they are on their way into work; if it's headed north they must have been at a helluva party somewhere. Even a few weeks ago it was light enough at 4am that I would hear the soft skittering screeches of our local flycatchers. These birds, dark on top and white underbelly, with short forked tails, like to swoop along the a few inches above the ground and catch insects out of the air. When I'm out mowing, I always attract a crowd of them and the swoop back and forth in front of the mower.

When the dogs and I go back out at six, Orion has marched to almost overhead and is dimming rapidly. This week we've had a waning crescent moon, barely visible above the trees to the east, the whole of the moon visible, the brilliant crescent beautiful but the fullness of the dark sphere evoking mystery and adventure. The grackles are awake now. Grackles are midsized birds, all black (most folks would think they are a crow) with a distinctive caw. The spend time as a flock, but are as likely to be seen alone, or in a small group of two or three birds. What I like about the grackles is the talk with one another. Our house was built in a former farm field, so the property is ringed with trees, but none close to the house. To the north and south the trees begin a quarter mile away, to the east, about 500 feet away, to the west perhaps a thousand feet. A bird to south (it's always the bird to the south that begins) will caw once. The caw is loud enough he could be sitting on our roof. A bird to the northwest responds: 'Caw, Caw.' Then the bird to the northwest issues the single caw, and a bird to the east responds with the double caw. The that bird issues a single call, and the bird to the south responds. The will keep this up for several minutes before you see them leap into the air from the trees in which they have been perched.

About the time, the songbirds start up. It never feels gradual to me, it's always like a conductor waved her wand and brought them into song simultaneously. The songs are loud (you would never imagine they were sitting in trees 500 feet away), yet the effect is peaceful. Not silent, but a type of silence. Something that moves me to silence, anyway. The dogs are more interested in the dead leaf blowing across the yard than they are any of this amazing morning life, unless a flock of wrens lands in the yard. Then they are damn interested, interested in chasing the birds away. I've seen one of those flycatchers torment the dogs, skimming the lawn a few feet above their heads, slowing as the dogs take chase and then pulling away just before the dogs catch up.

So, yeah, I'm a morning person.

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