Sole (from May 2008)


A giant bead of sweat runs down my forehead and to my brown.  I bring my arm to my face and wipe it off.  One side of my bright green shorts rides up my thigh and I feel my legs jiggling.  I experienced a brief moment of concern, wanting to pull the fabric back down in order to not offend anyone, but then I realize the hour.  For now, my only concern is my battle in cadence with the pavement.  The jiggle reminds me, “You need to lose weight.” I must move my mind other places lest the pavement best me.

Putting on miles can be as painful as trying on clothes after putting on pounds when one feels disappointed at the way things appear.  The scenery I subject myself to consists of suburban structures: rows of cookie-cutter polyurethane-sided tract-homes, their driveways and mailboxes.   I pass tall, weathered-gray pine fence after pine fence, their ugly slats creating lines of demarcation between neighbors and the street, a prefabricated screen for backyard proclivities.  One unkempt fence looks like the gaping maw of a tweeker.  As I pass, I peek through the gaps only to find the fence as a container for yard accumulation of rusted junk and unshorn grass.  I imagine the fence as an extension of its keeper and relish the fact this person and his people are not my neighbors.  There may be snakes in that grass.

Though lacking in scenery, my stride under a shadowy row of large oak trees reveals a delightful cacophony of chirpy, tweety, hooty, shrieky, shrilly, silly, spring-is-here bird-speak.  There are plenty of worms for these early birds.  I single out the familiar ‘whoo-hee-whoo whoo-whoo’ of the modest gray mourning dove.  I once heard someone call her a pigeon but her appearance is far more refined and delicate.  The pigeon is her obnoxious uncle, plus she doesn’t ‘coo’, she mourns.  Her tone is deep and soul-felt, a base note, ‘whoo’, to the minor third, ‘hee’, and down a whole step to the minor second for all the remaining ‘whoo-whoos’ which all slide to the base note.  It’s a sad song.  I chuckle for a moment; some people think she sings an owl song.  Owls don’t mourn; they query. 

I hear the virtuosic bravado of our southern mockingbird.  He is one of the few birds who seem to enjoy singing as he warbles through a series of complicated whistles, chirps, and twitters.  He is also feisty.  They are also known as ‘catbirds’ because they are one of the few birds unafraid to play kamikaze and dive bomb intimidating and intruding felines.  It is the moments before dawn when the mechanical hum of human ingenuity is silenced enough for the birds to have their say.

Hypnotized and entranced, I take deep breaths through my nose and exhale from my mouth.  I smell freshly cut grass, a lingering memory of a Sunday afternoon’s industry, proof bagged up in clear plastic, plopped on curbs, awaiting Thursday.  A sweet waft of honeysuckle is enticing and I greedily sniff the divine aroma.  In the relative dark, I see no vine but the smell is well-known to my nostril, similar to yet distinct from the smells of magnolia, gardenia, and jasmine.  I keep stride.  I am giving myself a gift of life.

Some people say the hours before dawn are an ungodly hours.  I beg to differ.  If God exists, he has the voice of a hundred song birds and is wrapped in a cloak of honeysuckle.  He walks with man shrouded in morning mist.   To revel in the solitude of early morning brings one closer to the true meaning of life.  Some people live as if they are to die and entitled to live again in some heavenly paradise.  How can they appreciate heavenly paradise when they can’t appreciate it here on earth? 


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