I love the predawn rituals associated with early morning running and cycling. The house is dark and quiet. Beebee, the little calico cat, sleeps to my left. Her soft little body is like a living, breathing beanbag. When I move, her head pops up and her eyes blink sleepily. She springs to life and runs ahead to the kitchen, making the tribble noise. I have never seen a creature so full of love and life as Beebee. Ollie the gigantic kitten (ok, he's a year now so more like a teen cat) sleeps on the back of the couch and lifts his head, but does not get up. And Snoopy the geriatric dog is oblivious to the activity.
Coffee's on. I turn on the light to the front porch. The feral cats that sleep on the porch are scattered about, their lanky forms deflated in complete repose. They look like a bunch of discarded pelts. But they're up and looking for some food.
The dog wakes and crips out into the living room. She's a great dog, 14 this month, with bad arthritis and hip dysplasia. Two ACL surgeries. A benign tumor on her spleen. A bout with Frontline-resistant fleas earlier this summer left her anemic and weakened, but she's coming back stronger than ever. She gets Deramaxx every day and cannot get up without it. She hesitates at the front door, then puts her head down and marches out into the light on the porch.
Summer's on a downward slide. The State Fair is in full swing. As a kid, it always meant that school was just around the corner. There's a lot of dew in the grass and a smell of cut hay from the farm across the road. Down the driveway to the mailbox to get the newspaper. The world is dark and sleeping. Far up the road are two red lights where Bradfordton Road tees at Old Jacksonville Road.
Someone has been burning and the smell of woodsmoke is faint and pleasurable. Pink streaks in the eastern sky. Temps in the 60s. Today's a riding day. I pull the bike out of the garage and lean it against my car. Too dark to see to load it onto the rack. A dog barks somewhere, an owl is hooting from the hills behind the farm next door.
Snoopy's ready to go back inside. She can't get up the four steps to the porch, so I carry her. She's a dignified old girl, a Chow mix, but submits to this humiliation with grace. The feral cats crowd closer. They have some kittens and I don't know what will happen to them in the winter.
Everyone gets fed. I make toast, fire up the computer and check email. What to wear for the ride. Is it tank top weather or short sleeve jersey weather? Opt for the latter. Dress, load up the bike, down the driveway I go. Most of the world is sleeping now, it's almost spiritual being out and about so early.