Colorado Springs cools down in the evening, which might not seem like a big deal unless you’ve lived in a place where the heat lingers.
I spent a couple of decades in New England and nearly a couple more in various places around the country where, in the summertime, it stayed hot long after the sun went down — not just hot, but humid, too, and there were mosquitoes. That cool, dry, Colorado air is one of the best things about living here, because you can turn off the fans and the air conditioner at dusk and fall asleep with the windows open.
I open all the windows when the sun goes down and let the darkness settle into the house. Evening exhales through the rooms, driving out the heat. Outside my windows the purple lilac and Japanese snowball bush sigh in the dark, releasing the day’s last scented breath. Their sweet smell fills the house, settling in over the day’s diffused odors of cooked meals, housework and sweat. In Ute Valley Park, coyotes howl, and the neighbor dogs join in with a spattering of barks and yowls. They settle down and the night music begins. A pair of owls coos softly in the dark, trading tales of nocturnal wonder. Crickets whisper their song of slumber — a secret lullaby. Sleep comes deep and easy in the fresh night air — the rest, like magic — nectar of the gods for the weary soul.
The real magic starts at dawn. Everything is rested. A thin light slips into the house and with it the morning’s reverie. A pair of mourning doves echoes the owls’ song; in hushed tones they say goodbye to the moon and coo their plans for the day. A woodpecker picks up the beat, rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat, and a flock of sparrows joins in with a cheery melody. Wrens chirp and chatter a merry ditty, while a starling chimes in with a whistle and a tweet. A bevy of magpies gathers in the cottonwood tree; their voices swell in a chorus that drowns out the early morning traffic on Centennial Boulevard.
Outside my bedroom window a crow peers through the screen. Peck, peck, peck ... he nibbles at the rooftop and goads me to get up. The sun is barely skimming the horizon but there are so many already at work in the treetops, while I — the lazy human — lie abed enjoying the beautiful music of the morning, the songbird symphony. “Get up, get up!” he says. “There is work to do!”
I make my way downstairs and put on the pot. While the coffee brews I unload the dishwasher then set about closing up the windows to seal in the cold. To the north, the neighbor’s juniper tree rises to a pinnacle above the canopy of Russian olive trees. It is the stage of choice for those birds of song brave and skilled enough to carry a tune on their own.
Today a red-breasted robin perches there on high. He arranges his feathers before the audience below — real or imagined it does not matter — his is not a performance, but an act of joy. I step into the backyard to listen. He raises his beak to the bluing sky and warbles an impromptu aria — long and twisted, beautiful and profound, a delirious greeting to the sun, the day, and anyone lucky enough to live in Colorado and awaken at dawn with the windows open.
Susan Joy Paul is an author, editor and freelance writer. She has lived on Colorado Springs’ northwest side for nearly 20 years. Contact Susan with comments and suggestions for her column at woodmennotes@