A predawn walk along Sand Creek.

In the pale light, three herons fly upstream just above the treeline while I listen to Debussy’s “Maid with the Flaxen Hair.” Rousing birds call to their mates along the creek, and their cries descant the ascending clarinet solo in my earbuds.

I thank God for music. For the calls and melodies of morning. For flights of exploration. For legs that carry me up a knoll from the creek, a cloud of vapor roiling from my nostrils, beneath a slate-blue sky now turning gray.