Lately, due to the heat and because I can no longer seem to sleep past 5:30 AM, I have been going on very early morning jogs/walks. I have always liked working out in the mornings to get my day started and watching the town stir from its sleep and awaken for another day.
My town is about 10 miles from New York City. It is small – only 4 by 4 square miles, but it represents many towns in New Jersey in terms of being extremely well (and overly)-populated. I did not grow up in a town that had tons of people, so living here has been quite an adjustment. If I walk during the day, I smell the fumes of cars long with freshly laid tar (they are endlessly working to improve our streets). I hear horns beeping, trucks roaring and children playing the streets. People are everywhere; driving all over town, walking down the streets and sitting outside their houses or cafes enjoying the summer sun. It takes several minutes to cross the street and I often have to dodge people walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk or with baby strollers along with fellow joggers/walkers and people walking their dogs. I guess it’s good because some days, it feels like an obstacle course!
Mornings, however, make my busy little town seem to somewhat of a desolate place. The only sounds to be heard are those from birds and bugs. I hear the birds calling to each other, squirrels with their high-pitched squeaks warning others that I am coming and of course, the heat bugs. I am not sure what the scientific name of these bugs are , but I call them heat bugs and have since I was a child. I remember my father telling me that when you hear a buzzing going duh-duh-duh-duh (say that REALLY fast) in the early morning, it is going to be a very hot day. And he was right. Every time I hear that bug, I know it’s going to be a scorcher.
My latest walking route has me going down side streets with houses that are very well kept with lush lawns and beautiful landscaping. I love looking at these houses and wonder who is living inside. I wonder what the inside looks like and who lives there. As I walk past the charming older houses with lovely front porches, I see squirrels and chipmunks scurrying around getting their breakfast and likely storing up food for later on in the day. I sometimes smell the alluring scent of pancakes or bacon coming from an open window. Mmmmm. (They smell so much better than tar.)
Occasionally, I will see another person. Usually, it’s someone walking his/her dog or someone dressed in pajamas, opening their front door to get the morning paper. Other than that, it’s just me. And the animals, birds and bugs. It’s tough to believe that in just a few short hours, the town will be filled with people much like raindrops fill a puddle.
And then, my quiet little town will become the bustling little city that most people know it to be. The squirrels and chipmunks will stay out of site. The sounds of the bugs and birds will simmer down as if they do not want to compete against the sounds of the cars and trucks and people. And I will continue my day with a smile on my face. As if I have a little secret that no one else knows about. And I will look forward to the next morning. When it’s just the bugs, the birds and me.