If you’ve never walked ‘fore daylight, there is much that you have missed
A display of hidden wonders that amounts to quite a list
The hauntingly beautiful music and displays of contrasting light
A dance floor with mystery partners known only to the night
The bullfrog plays the caller, the barred owl picks the tune
And on you go from dance to dance seen only ‘neath the moon.
Joining the Show
I’ve come to love early morning walking and running not just for the exercise but also to be able to enjoy a piece of the world all to myself. The pre-daylight world is calm and peaceful, yet wild and unpredictable. There is little other human activity, but nature puts on quite a show that others often miss. I feel like I’m accepted well enough into this otherwise private party, but oftentimes my presence sparks excitement that erupts into a spontaneous dance.
Take the jitterbug for example. In this case, my partner is the cicada who is often happened upon while dozing mid-street and taking on the uncanny likeness of an ordinary leaf. When startled, the cicada will begin the dance with a standard jitterbug move known as the helicopter. This involves a rapid twisting of the arms (or wings) in the air while bending and twisting the body underneath. Inspired by this sudden and unexpected activity, I will join in with similar movements in spectacular display. All other cicadas within earshot will make the dancefloor come alive with cheers and beating of wings. This in combination with my partner’s enthusiastic movements often leads into a dance similar to the Lindy hop with marvelously high knees and scattered footfalls.
The Armadillo Shuffle
Though my next partner is always awake as I approach, she’s usually on the sidelines picking through the hors d’oeuvres. When startled, she will leap at least a foot straight into the air followed by another three to the side. I will usually join in, matching her moves in beautiful symmetry. This is always followed by a bit of a to and fro shuffle, both of us heading in the same direction, then separate directions, and continuing until enough distance has been put between us that I move on to find another dance, and she returns to her prior pursuits.
The Religious Experience
There’s a bit of a spiritual quality to this early morning experience that is often expressed with exultation. For example, this can occur when a bat swoops down from the glow of a streetlamp and glances off the top of my head. This move elicits an immediate response…a religious sensation complete with hands in the air and an angelic choir singing, “Hal-le-luuuu-jah! Hal-le-luuuu-jah!” My feet will then get involved in the action appearing much like a Holy Ghost visitation that is followed by a series of Hail Mary’s.
The New Frontier
So, is it the dance I love? Is it the wildness of the secret suburban nightlife? It’s that and more…the brushes with deer, the rabbits, the foxes, the possums, and the occasional shooting star. It’s a new frontier, uninhabited, yet available to most. It’s a world I share with no one else…except the paper guy…and I really have to watch out for him. I wouldn’t say we’re partners, and I don’t think he gets the dance…