daily preciousness

Friday, February 09, 2001

ladybird morning

I woke to a conversation of wind chimes. Tinkling and sprinkling my room with metallic drops of sound. I spread my body over the bed, stretching my neck at a harsh angle. It's my "ready to take off" pose right before I triumph over the gods of sleep.

The clock radio clicks on with a whirring and a crackle. The morning's reality creeps up on me with each news story of my public radio.

I stretch out, turning my head the other way. My limbs feel tight and I warm the muscles with a full-body stretch. Lifting up the covers, I sit up and put on my favorite flannel shirt, jeans, socks and shoes. A shave and a hair brush. I get lost. Grabbing my bag and my wallet, I rush out to the coffee shop for a sweet potato muffin and my usual two or three mugs of cafe au lait with chicory. (It's a ritual; once a week, I treat myself to breakfast out, next door at the community coffee house. I am going to miss this cherry-wooded den of java when I leave.)

The speakers above my head provide more entertainment than the clientele. The shop is busy, but full of uninteresting people. The students are studying, the businessmen celling, the socialites alighting. And me? I'm just swilling down my chicory au lait and reading the newspaper. I listen to the sounds of hissing, steaming, machines. The machines are creating an unobtrusive accompaniment. The noise combines seamlessly to the music from the overhead speakers. I hear a familiar song. It's "Ladybird," a jazz classic. But it's not the classic. It's a new cover. And it's trip-hop of the most subdued variety.

A restrained female vocalist takes center stage. "Stay; stay for our time is near. Be what you want to be," it suggests. "Love; love like a ladybird. Never leave -- leave me." It's haunting. Behind the lead vocal is a chorus of crickets and echoed rap snippets. "Fire!", shouts a background vocalist. "Cha-cha-cha!", screams another. It's a lush arrangement. The crickets are very effective.

The machines behind the counter whistle with steam, spitting out frothy milk. They wheeze, fizz and whoosh under their operator's skillful hands. Another breakfast bevvie is served up.

I bite into my buttery sweet potato muffin and take a big gulp of the au lait. Delicious. It's a ladybird morning.


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