Monday, August 4, 2008

the award

I won an award this morning, for which I must thank my 15-year-old son.
but first, the back-story.

I began riding my bike in the early morning two years ago: that first summer I would leave home about 5:45, ride a 45-50 minute loop, and return home in time to relax and read (summer), or get the household up and off to school (once late august rolled around). the last two falls I kept riding until about mid-november, when I finally succumbed to the cold and wet.

I love early morning. it is quiet, it is calm. birds chatter, skies undergo metamorphoses, the air shifts, stars vanish in mere seconds. by september it is dark, and I begin by moonlight under a canopy of twinkly stars and deep indigo sky. I ride by headlight and occasional street lamps, my taillight flashing its little red alert. I stick to a route in town, as the canyons are deep and dark and cold.

this morning portended a seasonal shift: though we are caught in the depth of summer's dog days, we are also moving away from summer's pinnacle. this morning it was dark, darker than the mornings before, and I felt the shift of our shortening days as we slowly work our way into autumn. I put my headlight back on my bike, and set off on my journey up emigration. I left home a little after 5:30, as I had to be home by 7 to get my son off to football camp.

I was the lone bicyclist. it was quiet, it was calm. after the first third I no longer depended on my headlight to see the ground in front of me, and after the second third I decided cars coming down didn't need my headlight to be able to see me. the sky had lightened, yet the mountain was in silhouette, the sun not yet peaking over the hill.

no one on a bicycle passed me; no one on a bicycle came down the hill. pure peace, lovely solitude. but for the sound of my breathing and the whir of hummingbird wings, it was as silent as nature allows.

I reach the summit, where I often just melt with awe. I look down at little dell and feel the peace of the smooth water, I see the pre-sunrise pinking of the hills, I see the cars and trucks on the freeway oh so far away, quietly moving east and west, and there is not a human sound to be heard. I drink it all in, I memorize it, I want to keep this close and return to it when I need.

I have just earned the "first one up" award.

I cannot believe there is no one else there, that no one has been here and come down yet. I am the first to experience daybreak at the top of little mountain today.

there is no cash prize, no ribbon or medal or even certificate to document this event. in fact, it is an award only in my own mind. but the reward, however, is significant. it is the hummingbirds who fly with me, the cold air that slips past me, the sky that moves from indigo to baby blue cotton, the panoramic view coated in vast silence, the young buck who leaps across the road in front of me.
today, I am not the queen of the mountain, but a humble servant who feels extremely blessed to have been the first one up.

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