Sunrise concert, evening show

At dawn the eastern sky resembles a blackburnian warbler‘s throat: brilliant orange streaked with black.

At first light the mockingbirds rehearse their couplets, triplets and quatrains in preparation for their morning debut: practice makes perfect, though a more perfect rendition at dawn you would be hard-pressed to find. The catbirds chime in with a more subdued supporting role, dressed in their grey suits and black caps. High above in the tops of towering maples the warbling vireos announce the morning performance, while wood thrush offer their fluid trills in secluded spots backstage down by the river.

As I head back home from my morning saunter, I pause by the graveyard to listen to the lusty calls of a mockingbird perched on the tip-top branch of a towering spruce aglow in the rising sun. Over and over he sings, periodically spreading his wings, lifting momentarily into the air, displaying his signature white wing bars, then dropping back down onto the branch. Even he, it seems, has entered into the joy of his Lord.

The morning air stirs the leaves on our Japanese maple as slanted sunlight filters through the branches: a living stained-glass window in the outdoor chapel of the front yard. Scattered in the new grass near the base, forget-me-nots stand on tip toe, peering over the grassy blades to glimpse the rising sun.

This evening nighthawks display their aerial acrobatics above the river as a double rainbow appears in the eastern sky after the last of the late afternoon thunder showers. The folks across the street step out to take in this visual spectacle, chatting quietly among themselves; while another neighbor pauses at his grill to turn round for a reverent look.

Men still stop and stare at such infrequent unannounced transient natural phenomena, which seem to prick their spiritual senses, albeit for a few brief moments only.

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