There was a point, early in lockdown, where things were so locked down that there were almost no cars on the road; I remember taking a walk in the middle of the road one afternoon, and it being almost supernaturally quiet. In later weeks and months, things reasserted themselves and I can remember wistfully remembering the time when I didn’t have to worry about a speeding car cutting me off with almost no warning.
This comes to mind when I think about the fact that we’ve started going for early morning walks in the last few weeks, Chloe and I; it started when Spring started to sprung and things started to get sunny, and it very quickly and entirely unintentionally became a tradition from that point on.
It’s a particularly pleasant, gentle way to start the day. There’s something unique about the light as the sun rises for the first time — a way in which it catches the leaves in the trees surrounding us that feels particularly colorful and beautiful — and something about the stillness all around us as we walk through streets and a city that’s not quite awake just yet.
It’s not just that the roads are, for the most part, empty of moving vehicles, although that’s part of it. It feels as if we’re exploring something together, even as we move through areas that we’re all too familiar with because we walk them every few days. The lack of other people, of other motion, outside of the animals and the birds, feels as if we’re experiencing something particularly rare and somewhat special.
(And there are plenty of animals… or, at least, there are plenty of squirrels and cats, at least. Saying hello to the neighborhood cats, or even better, meeting brand new neighborhood cats, is a special thrill of each morning’s adventures.)
The feeling of quiet, of being alone in a good way, is such that, when other people start emerging from their houses to head to work or go for their own walks, we know it’s time for the walk to be over. It’s a transition point; a time when the world goes from ours to everybody’s. It’s the start of the day for everyone else, and we can go eat, knowing that we’ve laid claim to the best part already.