[Getting ahead for the summer schedule! Pax, jbg]
Notes From My Knapsack 6-18-15
Light in the east, wind in the west
In a few days, the sunlight will be as long and high and bright as it will be for another year.
Call it a summer solstice or "midsummer's night" or even St. John's Day, but there's a quality to this season that endures in the memory long after the sun starts moving at sunrise back to the south.
Rising now as far north on the eastern horizon as it will, as directly overhead at noon as it ever will get, the real astronomical quality most of us will observe is that morning begins so early, sooner than even early risers get up.
More of us note that as a mild inconvenience, it seems, with the real enjoyment being the long, leisurely evening stretching dangerously close to ten o' clock. Winter will come again, with dusk seeming to start about two in the afternoon, but it is a distant memory and a far-off anticipation. Let's keep it that way for now.
You might be surprised what an early riser gets to enjoy. Whether on a porch, a patio, or a walk to a nearby village bench, the riot of bird song with the dawn is musically thunderous. The growing light from the east starts to pick up the silvery trail of snails on stretches of pavement, glittering strings of dewdrops on spider webs, animal tracks almost as sharp on damp grass as they were in winter with snowfall.
Seeing a white tailed deer stroll by slowly, almost incuriously, is no longer a curiosity for village residents, since we all can see them doing that any time of day on the path up to Denison or even in our backyards. There are also raccoons and opossums and skunks peering out of burrows and hollow trees and storm sewer gratings, settling down with our morning as we do in the evening. Often great blue herons slowly beat their way across the sky overhead, their unique profile clear when you stop to look having noticed they aren't gliding on still wings like our more common turkey vultures.
From the earliest light, the runners fly by on a lower horizon, along the bike path or shoulders of roads or down the middle of your residential street. More of them these days are wired into their pods or widgets or whathaveyous, pacing to their own carefully selected beats. My running is sporadic and shorter, with just a small radio with an earphone and NPR, but I tend to distract myself with an audio soundtrack just as many do. It's not an activity where you're wanting to stop and say "hi," anyhow.
There are also many walkers, though they're more the second shift. Not as driven, not half so compulsive, often happy to not only say hello but to stop and talk about the weather and the light and the state of the world in general. Along Newark-Granville Road are many clumps of walkers who make good time, but a great deal of conversation. If you're on your way to work or whatever in a car, you pass them marveling at the amount of hand gestures it takes to talk to a group…and wonder if the aerobic benefit of the arm-waving along with the power walking has a cardiovascular bonus.
If you don't have to get off early to work, or aren't putting your exercise routine before your leisure first thing in the day, one thing is for certain: no coffee, no matter how sourced, how roasted, how made, can match a cup of coffee drunk early in the morning, as the sun rises, while sitting somewhere that asks nothing of you other than an appreciation of morning new born, long to endure.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; tell him about your mornings at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.