December 13 Ritual of Dawn

Last night I intended to observe the sunset, but I was drinking wine and writing out Christmas cards and didn’t notice when the snowy grey afternoon faded to snowy gray evening.

Not a cloud left in the sky this morning to retain any heat from the day before. The 6-degree temperature necessitated a few more layers of clothing: long sleeves, tall socks and boots, a vest.

A much noisier morning than yesterday. Still the dogs and the trains, but also the crunch and scrape and growl of snow removal operations on the neighborhood’s driveways and sidewalks. (No snow removal happening on the residential streets – in this climate, the city can save money and wait for the sun to clear the roads.)

The street lights are on, until they aren’t. It’s plenty bright enough to see, anyhow. The light blanket of snow brightens up the scene. The sky is blue / blue-white with an infusion of gold at the bottom.

At 7 a.m., church bells ring from a new blocks away. It’s Sunday. No people on the sidewalks yet. No cars on the street. I think fewer people are attending services in person, on account of the pandemic. Streamed worship services are a boon for people who have a hard time getting around, especially on snowy mornings. There are some good things to have come from this awful situation.

I see movement on the next block, between the houses, between the trees. Birds? I stare.

No, just the exhaust from a furnace wafting into the sky, matching my own steamy breath, both of us exhaling carbon dioxide, the product of each of our systems of creating warmth and life.

There is some bird activity this morning. I hear a scolding chickadee up the block, another small bird twittering in the neighbor’s bushes. A sudden intrusion on the porch as a bird zooms by from right to left between the porch pillars, two feet from my face, twittering as it flies.

There doesn’t seem to be any movement of the air, though the forecast later in the day includes a high wind warning. Still, small clumps of snow occasionally slough from the tree branches and dust the air below.

A neighbor on the block south fires up his snow blower. I loathe those things, how they tear the air with their stink and roar. But they are efficient. And this neighbor has a habit of clearing the sidewalk on his whole block, carefully angling into the curb cuts at the street corners. A wonderful courtesy for the neighbors as well as the people who will pass his house on foot.

Me, I greatly prefer to hand-shovel my driveway and sidewalks. It’s relatively quiet, cheap, better for the environment, and good exercise. It’ll be an easy task this morning, with only an inch or two of light, granular snow.

The light brightens. Without fanfare to mark the moment, the sun has risen above the horizon.

A new day has begun.

Copyright 2020 by Katie Bradshaw

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