December 17 and 18 Ritual of Dawn

December 17

The morning sky is a color show, tinting even the air orangey-pink, shifting colors so subtly from moment to moment it’s hard to perceive a change unless you look away and look back again. The strips of colored cloud align at times with the angle of the power lines across the street. This pleases me.

So many spectacles like this I’ve missed because I had my nose stuck to a screen.

I marvel at the spreading branches of the trees, how they have grown to fill in every space and capture sunlight as efficiently as possible. I think about how that efficiency of growth is mirrored by the tree’s roots underground, unseen.

A pair of squirrels chase around the tree branches like kids swarming the jungle gym at recess. A piece of dislodged bark plops to the sidewalk.

The neighbor with the lunch cooler has to get out the scraper to clear the frost from his windshield before he can drive away. He does a thorough job of it.

A pickup truck races past, probably going 35 miles per hour on this narrow residential street around the time kids are headed to the three schools up the block. And with spots of ice remaining on the street here and there! It makes me angry, this disregard for others, constantly angry, how easy personal motorized vehicles make it for individual whims and conveniences to endanger others in the public space.

I guess it’s not just the news cycle and social media posts that can get me riled before sunrise.

The light brightens. A new day begins.

December 18

It’s raining. Sleeting, actually. Little pellets are building up in the street. Doesn’t seem to deter some people from driving too fast. Or tailgating. I send a mental thank-you to the passing drivers who are taking it slow.

The garbage truck rumbles and clanks and thumps through the alley across the street, the last normal pickup day before Christmas next week. I glimpse the truck between the houses. It passes on a side street, rolling through the stop sign, as most vehicles do. I see its lights reflected in the house window across the street as it picks up the trash in the alley behind my house.

No birds this morning. No squirrels. One dog barks.

The regular kid dropoff happens, the car crunching tracks through the sleet pellets.

The regular student appears on the sidewalk across the street. No hat.

The neighbor headed to work with his lunch cooler has to turn on his windshield wipers to clear the sleet before he takes off.

It’s warm enough that I don’t need the hood of my shell jacket. I pull it back and realize I can better hear the clattering of the sleet pellets on dried leaves and on the tarps covering the boat and the old car in my neighbor’s driveway.

The sunrise is a minute later again this morning, but I don’t perceive it through the cloud cover. The street light sensors don’t, either. A gray dawn. A new day begins.

Copyright 2020 by Katie Bradshaw

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