A Brilliant Morning
I am not the most early of the birds. I tend to like my sleep or if I do happen to be awake, I like the feeling of lying in my bed: watching the news (or whatever Oprah has to say), knitting on my latest project or just plain snuggling up to a nice warm body (especially on the cold mornings!) So when I had to break down and support my artistic habits with a "real" job I anticipated the early morning wake up call. What I did not expect was to like it. A couple of mornings ago now (my efforts to document this momentous occasion thwarted at the time) I had to be up at what I call the ass-crack of dawn, even though sunrise was an hour before I was awake. It was six amish. I promptly took an obligatory shower (my job not requiring that I look perfect) and by quarter after six was rolling out of my house on my bicycle. I actually used to enjoy the morning ride as a messenger. It was one of the few times I didn't have to rush anything anywhere and I could chose the route based on what I felt like; not what the cycle of work may dictate. Those mornings where it was still chilly but you knew the haze would be burned away by nine am and strong sunshine. One of those days where the shade is actually cooler and the sun is refreshing. I loved those days. Wednesday morning was one of those days. Loop traffic was light. Workers from the suburbs still packed on the Kennedy, Eisenhower or god-forbid, the Dan Ryan expressways; workers from the city still sipping coffee at home or maybe on the 'el'. I made almost every light, even though I wasn't in a hurry and the ride felt instead like a free-fall glide. I like riding through the meat packing district at this time of morning. It's one of the few areas alive at the wee hour and dead at rush hour. Fork lifts dart around, the guys with their shopping carts stacked high already with palates march down Fulton Market, and white coated butchers smoke outside taking stock of their mornings and probably enjoying the fresh air. Once as I rode between two semis a trucker called out to me "Are you crazy? Riding through suicide alley..." I liked that term for the chaotic mess Fulton can be. Especially when you add in one rogue biker. Everytime I ride through there I think about the slaughter houses and how this tiny little area is pretty much all that remains of an industry that dominated Chicago and the near south side. How it is now "hip" to purchase a loft in one of the old packing plants and how those lofts must smell come the humid weather. Nothing gets blood out of 12 inch thick beams. When I ride early in the morning I can pretend Chicago is still that glistening gem of promise on the edge of the lake and the prairie. How rough it used to be and how grown up it's becoming.