Spring has not arrived. Thursday a “weak wind” blew and discouraged any thoughts of loitering, strolling, or otherwise not racing from the pick-up to the closest building. What’s a weak wind? One that is too weak to travel around you, so it goes through. Even the grackles and other pest birds huddled low, not bothering to venture out of the grass and sheltered ditches.
Two days before, I left the house and enjoyed the relatively warm morning – thirty-six degrees and no wind. High clouds had drifted through over night, muting the stars. Rain clouds would have been better, but we are in the tail end of the dry season, bumping into the time when “oh my gosh this snow is heavy!” seems to alternate with “the sky seems awful green for February. I think I’ll just go back inside.” Ice clouds, mares’ tails and feathery fallstreifen or the great sheets that drape the sky in thin white, bring nothing but quieter winds. And spectacular sunrises and sunsets, at least some days. This was one of those days.
Traffic flowed well that morning, although I caught all the lights. Some days you can’t win. As I glanced behind me, I noticed the sky growing pink, a blush that extended north and south, and touched the western sky as well. A few clouds burst into gilded fire, strips of gold gleaming like molten metal. I slowed down and took my time on the driveway tacked onto the county road, the winding snake of pavement that leads to the school. For once I didn’t have a student or parent trying to push my bumper. The distant lights of the next town twinkled ruby and silver for a brief moment, then disappeared behind the horizon as the road dipped a little, skirting the edge of a playa.
By the time I pulled into my parking slot, the entire eastern sky glowed brilliant crimson, as of the Most High had draped the heavens in a red velvet theater curtain. Low, just on the horizon, the first liquid gold-red sliver of sun bubbled above the edge of the world. The grass remained in shadow, blue-tan with the last touch of night. I turned off the engine, collected my big satchel, and opened the door.
There I stayed, standing beside the pick-up, smiling at the sky as meadowlarks serenaded the dawn. At least a dozen western meadowlarks sang, calling from fence posts, the edge of the track bleachers, the roof of the shed, the tree in front of the school, and on top of thistle stalks. As the sky faded from crimson to gold-rose to lavender blue, silver drops and burbles of birdsong filled the air. No wind stirred the air, leaving the school in a bubble of calm and wonder. The morning smelled clean, with a hint of moist soil from the previous weekend’s long rain.
“And it was very good.”