Monday, December 25, 2006

Joined by neighborly early birds

In the pre-dawn hours on Christmas Day, full from feasting on Christmas Eve, I set out to walk off my indulgences. My goal was three miles.

The damp, dim streets usually have no traffic at this hour, but here on Christmas morn, I found a trickle of cars, neighbors embarking, no doubt, for distant families.

My own destination was the Wilson High School track and 10 laps around it. Those coupled with my walk to and from the house would earn me my three miles.

In the darkness I had the track to myself, or so it seemed. To pass the time, I had my iPod plugged into my ears.

Two recorded professors lectured me in tandem about St. Francis, all courtesy of “The Teaching Company.” As I paced off the laps, I was feeling mildly smug and righteous about my choice of topic for the dawn of Christmas Day.

I was well into a lecture about the saint from Assisi when the seagulls joined me, wheeling, soaring and squawking above.

Yes, the loving affinity of St. Francis and his “sister birds” did occur to me. But more than that, Hillsdale and its feathered inhabitants were giving me their own unexpected Christmas gift.

As I rounded the eastern end of the track, a raucous cawing drew my attention to the chestnut next to the grandstand. One of Hillsdale’s clans of crows fussed and bickered over some pressing matter.

The morning lightened, the seagulls settled on the field, grubbing for their communal breakfast. The crows, though restless, seemed to have found peace.

Anyone who spends time in the Hillsdale Town Center knows these birds well. If you are like me, you take them for granted. They are, at best, curiosities: the crows pecking at some small morsel in the road; the gulls hanging out at Wilson, unacknowledged but deserving mascots.

But as Christmas dawned, for the first time in my years here, I viewed the gulls and crows as neighbors, companions really, on my trek around the track.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home