I have lived in my far-flung country home for twenty-six years at this point. In the mornings there, the sun itself is my nearest neighbor to the east. To the south, as I sit at my sofa looking out my bay windows, I seen nothing but an open expanse of prairie. Far off in the distance, the jade-colored Elkhorn Mountains climb against the sky. Mornings there are mostly silence punctuated by the sounds of familiar birds or a breeze sifting through the pines out back.
Waking here in Medina, Ohio, is not anything like waking at home. Here, I wake to a righteous neighborhood. Cars hoowish by our open windows with tires thap-thapping across every cold joint in the concrete street. The air conditioner from the house next door hums a low steady tune. When a warm, humid breeze parts the chiffon curtains of our bedroom, a postcard perfection of neat homes and sidewalks and leafy trees appears outside. Cars without their people rest quietly in neat rows of basketball-hoop drives. Even early in the morning, an occasional man walking his dog or a young woman with a stroller will appear and glide right through the postcard perfection. Unseen birds chip and wheeet from the maple immediately beyond our window. Here, the mornings are a somewhat muted symphony of sounds punctuated by a much softer silence. Different, but pleasant just the same.