Yeah, it’s the light I think. Heading out in the morning, just before the sun breaks the horizon; the roads are dusky but the light changes rapidly. Mornings like this morning are a gift in a way. The world is shrouded in fog, moisture glistens on my arm hairs as I roll downhill, a bead of it is just visible on the nose of my helmet – then the droplet falls and spins away, lost as momentum propels me forward.
The fog is magical. It turns the everyday into something mysterious. I truly cannot decide whether I prefer the saturated color in which the world is momentarily painted, or the wonderfully smooth gradations of tonality that gets rendered in black and white on this day.
So why choose? I shoot both ways. And yeah, it really is the light.
It’s Sunday morning and I get up early as I am wont to do. Looking out the window, it’s immediately apparent that a dense fog has settled over the landscape. It’s eerily quiet outside and as I roll down the driveway and out into the road, the silence is punctuated by a single bird, cutting through the mist with astonishing clarity, then fading to nothingness almost immediately as I pedal away.
The temperature is surprisingly moderate – it looks colder than it is -but the feeling of chill on my arms catches up to the appearance of the conditions as moisture beads up on every hair. My beard is dripping within minutes, and I pull out arm warmers when I realize I left my lightweight windbreaker at home.
Somewhere the sun is coming up. I know this because the mist has brightened, though the low visibility remains constant. Also: a chorus of birds have joined in to accompany the original lone soloist. The din is almost jarring as I pass a small lake and stand of trees, both of which suddenly emerge from the blanket of white through which I travel.
Before long my body has warmed and I begin to peel out of the layers. My arm warmers, which fit snuggly, are rolled down toward my wrists. I enjoy the sensation of escape and the breeze rushing over freshly revealed skin. The air is heavy and thick, a bit like trying to breathe underwater I suppose – the humidity is 100% at the moment, and with the chill I decide it’s better to ramble than race. And with that thought in mind I take route options that circumvent the steepest climbs: my purpose today is to pedal, to spin, and forgo mashing.
It took time for my knee to heal. It no longer rebels when I climb, but every once in a while I feel a slight twinge and for a moment I panic. But the twinge always goes away. So far, anyway.
And so I spin through the fog, enjoying the moment.
The chorus of a million frogs, crickets, insects engulf me as I coast down the hill at 4.30 am. Behind me lightning flashes on the western horizon, its telltale reflection in my mirror followed by the rumble of thunder. A cool, persistent breeze: But it’s difficult to say, really, from what direction it hails. Fallen leaves – a premonition of Autumn, that beacon of days to come as arrived earlier than I would have imagined; they swirl at the edge of the road, spinning and dancing a wild dervish. Rain drops fall, eerily ghostlike, briefly tracing glowing white trails across the beam of my lamp, coating my arms with moisture. The road is still mostly dry but the canopy above me betrays Mother Nature and a staccato beat of falling rain slowly grows more insistent. A jogger comes into sight, raises a hand of greeting, then disappears, engulfed by night. Summer ends.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been a morning person. I like wandering around before the day has begun, before anyone else is around, before my iPhone starts the continuous vibration that indicates one more person has emailed me with a question, a concern, a suggestion. Even the dog leaves me alone, minutely raising her head from the couch she’s not supposed to be sleeping on, a single eye briefly opens nearly to midpoint then closes again, followed by snores.
Cycling in the dark before dawn and in the low light just as the sun is coming up is nearly always a wonderful experience for me. This was particularly so yesterday morning, the air cool and still – a welcome break from the noxious humidity of the last four or five weeks, the atmosphere at times so thick it was nearly unbearable.
Despite a cool start, this morning marked the return of humidity. As usual, I was alone with my thoughts riding along dark roads in the dusk just before dawn. Cresting the horizon, the sun brought forth light and sound: First birds, followed by the roar of cicadas. Returning to the city I was surprised to see the number of runners and cyclists enjoying the early morning. Perhaps we all were in search of early morning solace as a sort of preventive salve for the coming wave of heat.