Morning sounds

In the city shortly before sunrise, as predictable as the returning light, the warning blasts from the morning train’s horn begin.
Muffled at first by distance, the piercing sound grows louder with the train’s approach until it joins with the clanging bells of the lowering crossing arms shouting: Beware. Beware.
Motorists pause impatiently. Then the sounds of accelerating engines and wheels turning on asphalt take over as the train moves to another crossing, to another neighborhood still trying to sleep.
Even before dawn, the loud hum of humans is constant in the city.
The rising sun brings with it the beep, beep, beep of garbage trucks backing up and the rumble of mowers and the growls of leaf blowers.
At the farm, the sounds of an awakening day are orchestrated by nature, not people.
As punctual as the city’s train, the first bird begins to sing before the sun’s orange glow paints the horizon.
The screech owls, great horned owls, barred owls and occasionally coyotes set the tone with their night hoots and startling cries.
At sunrise, the cardinals, chickadees, mourning doves, blue jays and quail take over.
Why do they sing?
Those who study such things say the songs come mostly from males trying to attract mates and warning other males to stay away from their territories.
I like to think the songs are a daily announcement of: “Here I am.”
Soaking up these sounds soothes and calms. It reminds us that nature, battered by human carelessness and greed, is still there, reveling in the routine of beginning another day.
Here I am.
If we are indeed on the brink of another mass extinction as scientists predict, the loss will be ours.
In the city, the clatter of humans adjusting to a new world will grow louder.
At the farm, the silence will overwhelm.
Where are you?
I’m no longer here.

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I wrote opinion columns for The Florida Times-Union for 28 years. I retired in December 2017, but I still have a few things to say. Often those thoughts come to me when I'm at our farm in Gadsden County where life is simple and the environment still beautiful.

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