Driving into work one perfect, sunny day, I listened to National Public Radio's Morning Edition, as I often do.
At the end of this particular broadcast, a narrator was reading a poem by New Jersey writer Amiri Baraka:
"The magic of the day is the morning
I want to say the day is morning high and sweet, good morning ... "
Titled The Ballad of the Morning Streets, this poem is set in a city, but the opening lines resonate anywhere. They can be true whether you are in a city, like the author, or working in a park, like me.
"The magic of the day is the morning."
How true. The early morning is when anything -- and everything -- is possible. Heading to work, I am energetic and ambitious, and it seems possible to complete the many projects that wait. When I walk through the park, nature exhibits the same optimism.
I see the possibilities in the dew that is evaporating from leaves. The trees have soaked in moisture during the cool night and are ready to face the heat of the sun.
I see the optimism in wildflowers that open their petals to the sunlight. An entire day of life-giving light is available to them, and it will be hours before some of them curl in on themselves to await the darkness.
White-tailed deer walking through the park are headed to sources of food and water. The fawns follow along under the growing sunlight, trusting their parents to lead them to the sustenance this day will offer.
The geese I see on a bridge over Alum Creek Reservoir are busy with their babies in the morning. The fuzzy goslings pad along the road, following every movement of their parents. They scurry together to the side of the road as a car drives by, finally reaching the edge of the bridge where grass -- and breakfast -- wait.
Spider webs are at their most beautiful in the morning, especially if they catch the morning dew and reflect the sunlight. The web I see along the park trail is empty -- free of bugs and with no spider in sight. Does that mean the spider has finished its meal? Or maybe food remained elusive.
But it's morning, and if last night's web has not been especially fruitful, the spider can build a new web in the new day.
Songbirds greet the morning with joyous noise; no other part of the day is so full of their melodies. As the day progresses, they will go about their business, calling to one another and seeking out food and hiding places. They sing again in the evening, but the songs are fewer and more subdued as they usher in the quiet time.
At Hogback Ridge Preserve, when the end of the work day has arrives, the squirrels and chipmunks that had been scavenging for seed under the bird feeders have disappeared. They seem ready to be done for the day. I'm ready, too, as I reflect on the work I've completed; the quantity never measures up to my hopeful goals.
By the end of the day, even nature seems tired. If the sun has been blazing hot, flowers and leaves will have wilted. They can't do much about it except wait for the cooler temperatures that will come with evening.
The daytime animals and birds slow down, ready to settle in for sleep. Hopefully, they've had a successful day, filled with food, water and shelter. But if not -- just as it is for us -- they'll have the magic of the day tomorrow morning, and the energy that comes with it.
Sue Hagan is marketing and communications manager for Preservation Parks of Delaware County.