In the wee pre-dawn hush of North Atlanta, the world holds a quiet promise. The stillness is like a canvas, blank and inviting, awaiting the colorful brushstrokes of the day’s experience. As the sky slowly lightens in grudging increments, the rich charcoal shade outlines the possibilities events may bring.
The birds tune up in the early light, breaking the fast of noise since the last tiny tree frog croaked a tune in the previous evening. More and more leaves are visible and the yard is no longer shrouded in mystery. Imagined dangers and unseen mysteries are banished by the arriving sun. The boogeyman of midnight trades his axe and club in for a blanket and stuffed binky of his own and retires during daylight hours. The canvas gets a layer of background color, a subtle undercurrent awaiting the coming action front and center.
The backyard fence is almost discernible, shaded by the Scotch pine in the corner and partially hidden by the azaleas in the center back. Their scraggly half-hearted branches and leaves win far too much leniency through a few weeks of lovely blossoms a year but in the beauty of the morning even they look less anemic. Dogs emerge from their shelters to yawn and stretch, only to flop down again and sigh in contentment. Cats slink from bush to bush on the hunt for early-worm birds and scampering chipmunks. There is at least one bird louder than the rest who much take this opportunity to tune up, as if to set the mood of the day. The bird’s mood is always positive; it is up to listeners to interpret it this way.
The low hum of traffic in the distance is noticeable as the sun breaks the horizon. One cannot see it from the ground of course – the trees are far too thick – but the treetop canopy eagerly soak in the first glimpse of Sol. As the light improves and defines the objects below, the canvas foreground rapidly fills in with color and forms. The birds still twitter in the distance but their tunes are now more conversation than reveille. Squirrels hasten from trees to claim acorns or pecans before the watchful hawks turn their pastoral setting into a tragedy.
The day is ready now. The stillness has been broached and the yard shimmers in a golden solar filter. The canvas is ready to add principle figures and highlights and definitions we might have missed. We were here to witness them slowly become illuminated, and therefore become illuminated ourselves.