Have you ever gone for a walk around town at 5 in the morning? It is a whole different world. I have started doing just that as part of my physical fitness program. I am hooked on this process.
As I exit the door at 5 to 5:30, I am amazed at how noisy the birds are. Every robin is busy talking to other robins across town and they are LOUD! House finches have more “voice” than seems possible. Groups of 20 or more sparrows will all get in one tree and fill the whole block with chirps. I have friends that fuss about the morning noise of birds—they are correct—birds are really noisy early in the morning. The doves have a calm, melodious call. Pat Cale and I went to Africa a few times, and the doves must court each other year round. The “cooing” of the doves is the sound of Africa that I always remember. They are busy doing that in our town right now. The Eurasian Collared Dove and the White Winged Dove are more numerous each year. They are larger and more aggressive than our local Mourning Doves, and tend to displace them. There is no season or limit on the “foreign” doves, but you can’t hunt them in town and they don’t seem to spend much time in areas where hunting would be legal. That is a conundrum.
I walk mostly in the middle of the street and put in about 3-4 miles each morning. There is a network of canines. One dog that I haven’t seen because he is behind a board fence sees me at about 50 yards or so and announces my presence with some loud barks that are immediately picked up by other dogs in the neighborhood. They all tell everyone there is a stranger among us and we need to really bark loud! I’m sure I am waking people up that would prefer to sleep. Dogs in houses with doors shut also bark at times. My grandparents had guinea fowls as home guards. They see everything and collectively made more noise than a barking dog.
I always carry my cell phone and keep a eye out for pretty flowers. I know I’m going to get busted taking pictures of yard flowers one of these mornings. It cost me $74 to get duplicates of some of the beauties people have in their yards, but I am grateful for the wonderful choices some of my neighbors have made that will make my flowers more interesting. The world does not turn on just day lilies, I have discovered.
It is interesting to see what choices people make in yard art supporting various football or college teams. Our high school logo is very prominent, as are K-State and KU signs. I was stunned to see that someone actually likes the Dallas Cowboys. Ha!
The best part is that there are so many American flags in yards, on doors, in windows and vehicles. I watched a fellow in his skivvies at 5:30 a.m. go in his yard and raise the flag. It was dark, and he never knew how much I admired his patriotism- or that I was walking down the street about 30 yards away. I see a few other people out early—several ladies run or walk with their dogs. We never have much conversation—they are on a mission and I’m on a walk. I’ve seen deer, raccoons, foxes, possums, skunks and rodents all in town. But most of all—I see our good people living their lives and enjoying our communities and each other as the day begins—give it a shot!
Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast.