June 13, 2023

Shadows fall long this time of day.


An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.

-Henry David Thoreau


The days have cooled off, for a little while, with temps in the low to high fifties range.  We’ve started walking in the morning, beginning around 8 AM, regardless of what the temperature is.  It’s always cool enough in the morning, but not too cool.  The shadows run from east to west across the tarmac, instead of west to east, as they do in the afternoon, long when we start, shorter when we return to the car.  It may be all in my head, but the morning light seems somehow different than the afternoon.  It seems bluer, cooler and gentler.  The afternoon light always feels more orange, hotter and harsher.  There is a definite difference in the wildlife – birds are more vocal, squirrels more playful and even the leaves appear greener and more eager to welcome the sunlight.

Waldo is back to normal, walking along at both ends of the leash, without laying down, nor even searching for shade.  He’s always eager to get up and get going in the morning.  True, he has business to do and, after a night’s sleep, probably always has an urgent need to take care of that need.  But, after he’s done, he romps and pounces, greeting the day with a playful vengeance.  Must be a morning person.

I, on the other hand, have always been a night-owl.  Even today, with no deadlines or legitimate requirement to do so, find myself with a second wind that keeps me up until close to midnight.  I am seldom eager to get out of bed in the morning, being more interested in rolling over and putting the day on snooze for a bit.  But, over the years when I had no choice, I learned that ignoring the urge to doze and just getting my ass out of bed when I wake up, makes it easier to get the day going.  Once on the rail-trail, I find it somehow more enjoyable to walk in the morning rather than later.

I’m not alone in this either.  Waldo and I meet several people this morning whom we usually pass when we walk in the afternoon.  Sometimes, we all walk in the morning to beat the heat later in the day, but some are there earlier on the cooler days when that isn’t so necessary.  Some are on bikes or rollerblades, and some are joggers.  I have never asked, but maybe some fit their nature-time around a work schedule and this is just what they have available.  There are others who we haven’t seen in a while because they always come out early.  They are, of course, morning people.

Some people we pass seem to be goal-oriented and are pushing themselves through their trek.  There is a teenager on roller skates, accompanied by a man on a bicycle, who goes rapidly back and forth down the trail as if he’s in training for some athletic purpose.  There are joggers who run faster than I ever was able to, when I could do that kind of thing, and there are bikers who speed along the trail, all spandexed up, with helmets and specialized shoes, on high-tech mounts obviously designed for racing.  I, personally, don’t think it’s safe to do that on a trail that is multipurpose and includes not only dogs, but old people with walkers, young kids who aren’t paying attention and babies in strollers, not to mention the squirrels and rabbits, foxes and even, rarely, a young deer, that on occasion dash across the path.  I can only hope that all those type As out there sometimes come out here to just enjoy the forest and all it has to offer – at any time of day.

This morning, I see the forest has passed a milestone.  The oak trees, initially a pale pea-green, have morphed into something darker and are becoming greener than the conifers.  They have shed their pollen and spindly stamens in one great flush.  Over a period of about three days, a blanket of green dust and ropy stems fell over the ground, covering cars and anything else beneath their canopies.  The tarmac turns that same pea green the branches were sporting, before they turned emerald, and windshields and their wipers are clogged with yellow fuzzy stems.  Pity the poor pollen-allergic asthmatic who has to endure this barrage.

Things are getting so much greener.  Weeds, like the Japanese knotweed that now stand eight feet or more high, bushes and young trees are all leafed out and obscure the line-of-sight into the forest after more than about thirty feet.  Things aren’t yet as verdant as they’re going to get, but they’re well on their way.

And mornings are such a beautiful time of day to witness it.


Shadows disappear when the sun goes behind a cloud.

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