Dawn Begins at Zero Dark-Thirty

Before dawn today, I discovered a blackbird commuter byway running directly over my house. 'Dawn' begins with the full stretch of black starlight touching every rocky and forested horizon and ends with the entire sun visible. 'Sunrise' is the exact moment it crests the horizon.

This morning I watched the entire two-and-a-half-hour process of dawn and graduated from someone who enjoys watching the sunrise, to someone who enjoys the dawn.

The blackbirds of Arizona are a courteous flock. They dribble high overhead, in vague wavering clots of threes and fives; barely discernible from the pitch-blue sky, were it not for their passing between starlight and eye. Conversing in low calls and deep throated bracks — out of respect for the many below them who slumber (of whom I normally am one). I wonder if they are headed to get a better view of the Sunrise, unobstructed by the hills to my east.

Coyote breakfast call. Not more than two hundred meters south of my seat, the mother's low moan is met by the anxious yip and excited yap of her hungry brood. Her pups do not yet appreciate the morning quietude, which comes with age. Their unchecked barks and snarls make me smile; reminding me of a letter to the editor in the local art-zine, several months back.

To the lady who wrote complaining about the incursion of wildlife and particularly the increased number of coyotes on her property, I want her to think about who is encroaching on whom. The ever-growing human population is moving farther out into the forest and wilderness. I’m sorry her dogs were victims. But, it’s us who are trespassing and she and others should know better than to leave domestic pets unattended. The coyote is only doing what comes natural and necessary for its survival.

I wondered if Mom and her hungry ones, quiet now, were having any problems with the taste of Hartz 301 flea and tick spray on their breakfast.

I enjoy reading reply letters to the editor, especially when I miss the initial letter. My imagination fills in the missing complaint:

I want to know why the county isn’t doing anything about all the savage animals that are becoming an increasing threat to the safety and security of our homes and families!! Just last night a rabid pack of coyotes took my two Hungarian pug-nosed Grendlespitz’s right out of my back yard. I tried to do something but by the time I got my slippers and robe on all I found were empty collars on the end of their leashes. Duchess and Sophie were members of our family. I want the county animal control division to do something! As a property owner, I pay your salary with my taxes and want to be able to know that my pets are safe in my yard.

Venus pierces the southeastern sky — being brightly dragged westward by the half-waxing moon.

A meteorite zick. North to South. Slight burn to red, perceptible before it’s image on my retina is forgotten.

The eastern sky is slightly lighter now. As if a light polluting city, like New York or Brussels, was transmorpholated intact, just on the other side of the hill. Many of the small stars — visible just minutes ago on the eastern horizon — have been tucked away, behind the lighter blue.

I woke extremely early to see this and certainly don’t regret my decision. Over the past months I ended my days later and rose — accordingly — progressively later. At first, I thought doing so was because I read in my retirement manual under 'no longer needed:' regular haircuts, shaves, or alarm clocks. But, research divulged the following:

Doctors at Duke Medical Center released a report indicating adult humans naturally require 9.25 hours of sleep every 29.1 hours. The study, which lasted several months, was conducted by placing volunteers in a completely shielded environment and preventing the testees from any external knowledge of time. After a period of adjustment, independent of each other or any external impetus, participants settled into a routine of ‘nights’ between nine and ten hours, and twenty hour ‘days’.

Well, that certainly posed more questions than it explained. Obviously, the human body is not in synch with the earth’s revolution around the sun. Why could this be?

The east is much whiter — now — than any city over the hill could cause. Almost every star above me has been absorbed. The horizon blue is no longer just cerulean. Now, aquamarine fades to the yellow of my mother’s bathroom wall which becomes white at the far edge of the hill.

Venus and the moon share the stage alone, with Venus a dim glimmer of it's hour-ago self.

No more blackbirds. They must have all straggled to work — even those who cut their routine to the minute.

Four doves bank around my head in tight formation. A large loop, they glide through another ovoid and return. The sound of the wind over their wings over my head is sharp and wonderful. Which is the alpha-dove, I wonder. After another lap, they settle on a wire below where the sun will eventually make it’s debut in my small valley.

So my body — which I forced for decades to work an unnatural 16 awake and 8 asleep (which easily became 18+ awake and 6- asleep many...or most days, depending on how truthful I feel) has found it’s natural cycle of 20 awake and 9 asleep. This explains why a few nights ago I went to sleep at three in the morning and got up at noon. But it doesn’t explain why man hasn’t settled to the rhythm of the earth-sun revolution in these short hundreds of thousands of years. It should be obvious. It isn’t.

If I went to sleep when the sun set last night and woke when it rose: I would have gotten twelve hours of sleep. If I naturally want to sleep nine and to be awake twenty, why is the day not twenty-nine hours long? A conundrum. An enigma. A puzzle.

In December, American Scientists working in conjunction with the Histore De La Provinciale Sans Guiffon in Den Hage, The Netherlands, have jointly posited that neither Darwin’s evolutionary theory nor the divine origins believed by Christianity fully explain the arrival of Homo Sapiens on Earth. After decades of research — utilizing the Luxtablinula telemetry radio telescope in Denmark and the Hubble satellite telescope: a small terra-equivalent planet has been observed orbiting around the yellow star TJ761.

This planet — named First Earth — has a twenty hour day and a nine hour night. Theories as to the cause have ranged from a combination of First Earth's avuncular revolution around TJ761; a peanut-shaped planet with an erratic wobble-spin; and a unified land mass. Research is presently ongoing to identify the existence of life on First Earth.

Professor R. G. Jihk, director of the First Earth research team, provided this brief comment:

“It is my firm belief that man was brought from First Earth to Earth in much the same manner, and possibly for similar reasons, as the British first utilized Australia. This would have been over one hundred and fourteen thousand years ago. And once we, the modern day Australians — sticking with that analogy — are advanced enough to blast the modern day Brits back to Stonehenge, as it were, I believe the First Earthians will come back and crush us like the foolish prehistoric detritus we are.”

The sunbeams are hitting the roof of my house now. The trees and homes on the west hillside of my valley are bright in reflected orange.

The doves returned with a fifth squad member. They continue routine circles overhead. I may have identified their leader. As they all land back on the same wire, I watch. If the leader is the one I picked, then she’ll be the first to leave.

She was the last. Maybe my theory is upside-back and the leader is the last one to leave, making sure her flock is off to where she sent them like a good military commander: first one in and the last one out.

The first sun ray — broken between branches and a house on the crest of the hill above — spears me in the eyeball. I squint. The air smells perfect. The warmth on my face is exhilarating. I’ve never done this before — over two hours sitting with myself, paying attention to what nature does every morning and focusing on my inner thoughts.

I recommend it to all. Blackbirds, coyotes, meteorites, Venus and the doves also recommend it. The First Earthians don’t, however, they sleep when it’s dark and wake when it’s light and find the concept of watching dark become light an abomination.

Don’t be a First Earthian. Be proud. Wake united — set your alarm two hours earlier and watch tomorrow’s dawn with a smile in your heart.

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