The clock says nearly 5 AM. I need to be up at 6, and I've been awake trying to get back to sleep for an hour. Pointless. My bladder reminds me it's been a whole hour since it was last given attention, and it's about to get cranky. May as well get up.
While in the bathroom I take my morning pills, all but the one which needs food first. My activities today include brunch, so it'll be something light. I open the window to check whether it has cooled down enough to allow in some fresh air. It was still too warm last night when I went to bed. It must be low 70s, so both bedroom windows get opened. They'll have to be shut by the time I get dressed, but some fresh air is still welcomed.
By now my dog is up, fully believing that since I relieved my bladder, it's only fair that she get a chance to do the same. I can't disagree. I also get Steve's dog out of his room, not bothering him despite his noisy door. I've figured out that if you lift slightly as you open it, the noise is much diminished.
The house is still black, barring the tiny glowing LEDs on various appliances. With them I navigate. First the front door is opened, leaving the locked grill to filter fresh air from intruders. I feel for my water cup and fill it from the fridge door, borrowing the trick of a finger inside the cup to tell when it has filled. Then we all three go outside.
Outside it is as dark as it ever gets here. There is a perpetual glow from the city to the east. Phoenix needs its lights. Otherwise the sky is black, everything is black or the slightest shade of lighter black in the deeper black to tell where you are. I pick the chair nearest the sliding door, the one with a nearby table for my cup. The dogs, seeing I have come out with them, start to roam the yard.
Fred wanders a bit before laying down in his favorite spot under the big pine. To me he is just a darker shadow among black shadows. I have no idea whether he may have lifted a leg on his wanderings or not, but I assume he's tended to whatever was needed. Ellie is invisible but her jingling collar tags pinpoint her location. Eventually she comes to sit by me, as always seeking reassurance I'm still there. Plus an ear scratch. Fred somehow senses those are in the offing and hauls his black shadow in for his share.
By now the faint glow has resolved itself into a patch of cloud on the horizon, and darker sky that isn't cloud. The cloud is hinting at the merest touch of color, not even enough to tell what it might become, yet. Behind me, since I've angled my chair to the east, all is still dark. No stars there, so I assume clouds cover much of it also. A lighter patch also resolved itself between branches on the pine to my south, so I presume cloud there also. Again, no color, but foreground silhouettes begin to emerge against the faint lightening of their background.
I can now see clearly Fred's black and a hint of white feet against the ground where he lays, once again back to his favorite spot. The paving stones leading out there begin to form. Ellie dashes past me, barking, Fred joining her briefly. Something has banged a block away. Perhaps an offering to the garbage can deities?
To the east, a suggestion of dusky salmon forms under the big cloud. The sky has lightened enough to trace the cloud's edges, revealing a smaller one a bit closer to me, still just a darkness in the sky. I realized I hadn't noticed when it switched from the sky being darker than the clouds to being lighter. As I wait for color, I notice that the faintest of lighter spots have emerged in the western sky, revealing the tops of a cluster of fluffy cumulus clouds, their bottoms now darker than the sky they float in.
Back to the east, pale yellow forms at the lowest part of the sky visible through the neighbors landscaping, while the sky above it has become blue. The big cloud remains a dusky salmon, no longer a hint, but never bright, never reaching toward any shade of pink. The distant foreground is still only silhouettes, but my own yard emerges in shades of grey now. I can pick out the rock beds, find the other chairs on the patio. The neighbors' concrete slap heading from their screen house to their grill glows white, its surface finish catching the available light.
The dogs bark at a few neighborhood noises, but mostly the background is the freeway a mile away. Even on a Saturday morning, there is plenty of traffic. No birds sing yet, but I find the solitude a perfect opportunity to hum the earworm that has been plaguing me for a week now. I used to know all the words, but the years and lack of refreshing the memory have left me able to dredge up only one verse and the chorus.
The puffy clouds to the west have turned light grey with a few white tops now. I can distinguish both shapes and height by the changes in color. No salmon encroaches here, but the glow behind the pine has picked up the color even as the eastern cloud has gone grey again. No fancy color show on display today, then. Even the bluing sky to the east has gone to just light, no more color. The first birds have begun their singing, first one off to the northeast, then filling in from all around. No doves yet, though, our usual noisy morning chorus, punctuated by the quail.
Colors have emerged in the yard even as they've left the sky. I'm finally getting chilled by the lovely temperatures. It's time to get busy. The sun will rise on its own without me, just as every other morning, and indeed, while I write this it sends a ray sneaking through the clouds to land on the stems of the large ocatillo in the back yard before it hides behind the clouds again.
Thus the morning begins.