This morning I woke at 5 am and could not get back to sleep. I lay in bed for an hour verifying the fact, then rose and walked quietly through my dark house. I was drawn to the windows facing west, which were filled with moonlight. Looking out I noticed with surprise that the sky was perfectly clear; gone was the overcast of previous mornings.
I stepped outside onto my front porch to take a closer look. In my thin robe, I was prepared to brace against the chill air that comes with late Fall mornings. But there was no shock to my system; the air was almost warm, and completely still.
The waning moon hung over the bay in strange detail, revealing a face that somehow I didn’t think I’d ever seen. Orion was taking aim directly at the moon, so it could have been donning a disguise until it had a chance to slink out of range.
All around me, nothing moved. I heard no sound other than the foghorn and the dull roar of the surf a mile away. No birds calling out into the pre-dawn air, not even a sea lion grunting off in the distance as it got more comfortable on its rocky bed.
The town spread out before me in the darkness which is not shadow but emptiness. It was so still I could feel the drops of dew forming slowly on my face and hands, each molecule quivering as it joined the others in the long magnetic process of like seeking like.
Across the bay, a pair of headlights appeared just as I heard the swoosh of a car engine somewhere nearby. The sound was so close I had a hard time believing it came from the other side of the water, but as I watched the headlights wind slowly around the horseshoe of the bay, each curve they described was matched by a simultaneous change in the engine noise.
After a few moments the headlights disappeared from view but I continued to track through sound the progress of the only other people awake and outside besides me. When they reached the highway and sped out of town I was left alone again on my porch, in the gathering dew, witness to the incredible stillness of this pre-dawn hour.
My tolerance for stillness and silence has greatly increased over the years, but I am still a lightweight. With nothing dramatic to catch my attention I soon drifted back indoors, put on the kettle and turned on the kitchen light.
An hour later I went back outside. There was light in the east, a fishing boat on the water and woodsmoke in the air. My little neighborhood slowly roused from sleep as the moon slipped away and the stars disappeared. It will be another day of activity, during which I will ponder how there can be more weight in a moment of stillness than in several hours of effort.