7 a.m. A rooster crows somewhere in the palm-shaded courtyard below.
From further west, a second one answers, or challenges, maybe. Fainter yet, and more northerly, a third, a fourth, a fifth.
Don’t they know dawn eased awake an hour ago?
7 a.m. On this, my birthday, 1,225 miles from home on this gracious and serene balcony not unlike an oasis. I’m at the Douglas House in Key West, Florida.
Perhaps it’s an auspicious sound, a rooster’s crowing, as if it signifies the start of something as the rooster greets the dawn of a new day. What am I on the cusp of? What’s around the corner?
Ah, I think I can wonder all I wish but of this I am fairly sure: I can’t really know. We don’t control the future, however much we like to think an iron grip, a fail-safe plan, an outline or vision guarantees our arrival at the shores we’ve chosen and right on our schedule.
So, listening to the roosters crowing and now the clucking of a hen and the peeping of her fuzzy chicks as they scuttle by beneath me, I know what I’m on the cusp of: This Moment. Always this moment. The past is no longer true and the future doesn’t exist — it is always, only, ever the present. For me, the present with roosters and palm trees and gentle tropical breezes is a fine place to celebrate a birthday.
(About those roosters…they’re feral, descendants of chickens brought by immigrants long ago for food, and for cock fighting. They were turned loose long ago when grocery stores became easier than raising chickens. These descendants now roam across the island, through the yards and streets, homes and businesses of Key West.)