In the pre-sunrise stillness of my neighborhood, the pond behind the house is calm as an obsidian mirror, dark, tranquil and still. The houses around the pond are bathed in a violet light that mutes their earth-toned trims, and softens the bricks and stones.
There are two families of ducks just stirring on the opposite shore, the ducklings honking like tiny, feathered foreign cars during rush hour.
There’s no hurry here.
I never get to see this much, because I am usually feverishly working against a deadline each weekday morning at this time.
Today, I am watering the dog…or more accurately, the dog is watering its personal space on the lawn. We’re getting ready to make a rush-hour trek to the Texas Medical Center where I will undergo yet another indignity in the quest for medical knowledge, seeking answers for questions we dare not ask. Curtain call is 7:00am, and we live on the opposite side of the county.
In my seat this morning is a colleague, Vince Rowe, for whom I have filled-in in past weeks, and who has eagerly accepted my invitation to sit-in for me this morning. It’s strange to hear the sign-on sequence of the show from outside the booth.
6:00am network news feed…6:03am local news feed…6:05 The National Anthem as performed by Faith Hill at The Superbowl a few years back…into promo…into Vince making cracks about being me doing my best impression of him. It's all Theatre of the Mind, and I'm a spectator instead of a performer today.
We head towards town before the sun has broken through the clouds to the east. Traffic is still not too bad this time of the morning, and I can enjoy the changing landscape as we hurtle southward into the city from the exburbs, speeding along a ribbon of concrete with toll gated sentinels at the the on-ramps. The downtown skyline rises purple in the distance, majestic above a forest green base of trees. To my left an angry, red-orange orb struggles to rise through banded layers of clouds and morning fog.
Buddy Cantu, my Producer, and I used to work on the top floor of a building in which we had a wonderful view of the eastern horizon each day. It was a treat to greet the sunrise, like a sneak peek at the day ahead. Our present facilities are buried in the middle of a one-story industrial park, ringed by an impressive urban forest of live oaks, whose branches form a gentle canopy overhead.
While Buddy guides Vince through the morning show, a team of nurses guides me through a maze of passages and wards, separated by curtains clanking across suspended rods of chrome and aluminum. The squeeze of a pressure cuff, the prick of a needle in the top of my hand, and for a half-hour I am unaware of anything at all, and then the gentle nudge of my bride on my arm brings me back to wakefulness. Surrounded by a curtain in a cold room ablaze with harsh neon lighting, I dress in a post-op fog. We walk to the garage and drive out into the blazing sunlight of noon for the return trip home.
I will doze the entire journey, and sleep through the afternoon.
Thanks to Vince for standing in the gap, and to Buddy for keeping it all running smoothly.
I’ll see you tomorrow on the Radio.