April 7th, 2004

caillebotte_the balcony


When night is longer, there comes an hour when light begins to spill from houses. Windows pop into existence, fragments of yards appear with bits of shrubbery and maybe some flowers. Sometimes I hear faint sounds of doors closing or pans rattling or a teakettle whistling. There are no passersby here at the edge of the world. A few cars rush along the main road a block away, but for the moment the outdoors still belongs to me.

That stirring always gives me a twinge of nostalgia for the years when I was among those early risers. At the time, I was eager to abandon that pattern, and thought I would never regret its loss. I still prefer being a night person, but for those few moments each morning I do remember that time with some fondness. If I were forced to return to keeping those hours, though, I know I would soon be irritated by them. Still, it would be nice to do it once in a while, if it were not so disruptive to my schedule. This time of day looks very different when you wake to it than when it is your bed time.

Some day, when I no longer have those nightly tasks to do, I'm going to stay up all day and go to sleep when the birds do, and look at morning from the other side once again. When that will be, I don't know. But someday it will happen.


The house holds the day's heat, and I've left the windows open, allowing the night air to displace it. The breeze barely stirs. I hear the crickets chirp. There are only a few of them yet, and I can distinguish the sounds of individuals. One is in the lawn, another sings from a spot under the camellia bush, and a third occupies the mass of moldering leaves dropped last year by the wild plum. Now and then, a dog barks. A few cars still pass along the nearby roads, humming of distance. But, aside from the crickets, the only constant sound is that of my pencil scratching the paper. It is still too warm for Sluggo, so I write by hand now, to transcribe later.

Orion, leaning in his spring attitude, has dipped behind the western woods, and Venus hangs from a ponderosa branch like a bright ornament. Here on earth, my younger cat, after being bold enough to enter my room despite the presence here of her nemesis, has gone outdoors. She prefers to be out on warm nights. It's probably a fascinating place for a cat, full of small creatures and interesting smells.

The older cat never stirred when the younger one came into the room. She has been sleeping fitfully, occasionally moving from one spot to another. It has not been a good day for her. She ate little, but couldn't keep it down. She tried to use the cat box, but failed. Then she took a nap in a dark doorway and got her paw stepped on. In fact, her health has deteriorated greatly in the last few days, and I'm thinking it might be time to let her go. She has often surprised me with her recuperative powers, but I don't know that she is capable of more such surprises.

Despite the fact that it is spring, the night has an autumnal feeling. There is decline, and I sense changes coming. This afternoon, I noticed that a few more boards have fallen from the fence, even though there has been no wind to bring them down. When things fall apart for no apparent reason, I grow uneasy. The deer haven't visited the street in weeks. I feel as though I ought to be holding my breath, but I don't know what for. Whatever it is, I hope it happens soon.