I wake up, not sure what time it is.
Commuting days are tricky this way. It could be after 4:30AM, too late to go back to sleep, and it would look pretty much the same as if it was (peeking, sandy-eyed, at the clock) a little after 1:00AM.
Plenty of time to sleep, if I could. But two full sleep cycles and I feel temporarily rested, sleep flees. Which is not going to be super helpful in a few hours, when I’ve finally gotten back to sleep and now the alarm is an unwelcome and momentarily confusing occasion.
But when it happens I get up, as I must. I manage, just, not to topple down from the top of the stairs en route to starting the coffee. Tired, yes, but also my inner ear isn’t quite right again. I assume it’s my ears, and not that the world occasionally tips sideways. I get ready, stepping through the process by rote, everything set up the night before so no thinking or searching will be required at this hour.
The moon is full and high in the black of the sky when I step outside.
It’s night for all practical purposes. The tree line and sky are an amorphous dark mass surrounding the highway. Only at breaks in the treeline that reveal a hint of horizon, does the punctuation of stars show the difference.
By the time I get off to cross the Susquehanna, the subtle beginnings of morning are notable. The sky is still dark, but no longer black. A discrete cluster of clouds are a purple-on-navy Rorschach’s test overhead as I cross the bridge. Then back into the treeline, west before north…
At the next clearing, the sky almost reminds me of sunrise in the desert… a single morning star in a field of cloudless jewel blues overhead, the color of Crater Lake, the sky lightening toward the earth, reaching down to what looks like a smudge of purple mountains at the horizon.
The desert mountains weren’t purple in the morning, and they were sharp, not smudgy, and that purple mass isn’t mountains at all. It’s a mass of cloud resting on the earth…
And then I’m driving into it, and the jewel tones are lost in the haze. Dark again. When I come back out of the cloud, briefly, in Delaware, the promise of the sun will be there, briefly, then a fresh haze of cloud will close over me, obscuring the lines of Wilmington ahead.
It’s getting light enough that the sun must be up, I think, but not yet visible above the treelines and cloudlines.
The moon is full and high in a gray-blue sky as I pull into work.