One thing that I have to admit to liking about keeping extreme night-owl hours like I've been lately is moments like these: stepping out into a perfect, still, mid-60-degree evening, with the pre-dawn birds starting to make their noise, but otherwise just taking in the quiet of the night. The partiers have all made it home already, and there's no sound of traffic, even on St. Charles Avenue, three blocks' distance. It's been so many years since I've lived in a residential neighbourhood (Clifford the Big Red House in South Bend, I suppose, and even that was near a pretty busy street), and even though I've been down here since July, it still sort of takes me by surprise. Even when I'd be reading in the Courtyard of the Fountain before the Joan of Arc Chapel on Marquette's campus (the quietest area around campus) I still could hear the hum of the two interstates bordering the campus.
Most nights when it's not too cold, I like to step out onto the porch and soak up the feeling of the cool air on my skin, those bird sounds, the general stillness, and usually, if I'm lucky some sudden distant bang of freight train cars being connected on tracks down on the Mississippi, a mile or more away, but a sound that takes me back to my childhood living not too many blocks from the train tracks in Oregon, Illinois. It's cheap, easy, peace: and that's no small thing in this world.
The only downpoint I'm consistently finding is that after some time grading, like tonight, or worse, poking around on my iPhone, when I step out, I discover three overlapping moons that I can't make resolve into one image. After having ridiculously perfect vision my whole life (well, the VCR or later DVD clock has been blurry for about a decade, but just that), it's slightly dismaying even to have anything less than perfection. At this point, it's more amusing than anything else, but I suppose that it foreshadows eventually needing glasses of one sort or another in another decade. At least it's the distance that's less-than-perfect, rather than the books in front of me, since I am a professional reader, among other things.
But forget that. There's a rattle of a train down by the river. That one species of bird is still making its sweet chirping, and the air is cool and still on my arms. It's good to be alive.