The streets are usually crawling with cars and busses this time of morning, but not farther up in the neighborhoods. Occasionally a backpack-burdened boy with slicked-back hair or a pod of young skinny-capri-swathed girls clutching their packs as they run toward the bus stop.
They all desert the neighborhoods every morning and leave them still and dechilded until evening.
But this morning it is different. Here, at one house, the deep timbre of a father trying to explain a game's rules over the hum and squeals of children's voices, their bouncing blond heads just visible over the white fence.
Here, farther up, a pair of boys with bedhead on bicycles, pedaling slowly down the street in t-shirts and shorts. No backpacks. No busses.
The quiet thrum of a scooter motor as two girls still in pajamas ride from behind their house onto the street — the older girl steering, the younger holding on. At 9:00 in the morning.
Activity all about. You'd think they'd be sleeping in on the first day. But no. In one normally deserted yard a prepubescent boy in basketball shorts and a baseball cap pushes a throaty mower.
Further up, on the main road, they walk in groups to and from the snow cone shack standing next to the not-yet-open Wendy's drive-thru. Their bare shoulders and legs soak up the new sun, and they amble the pavement in their flip flops. No busses to catch today. Or tomorrow. The sound of their voices mingling adds a strange new dimension to the usual ambiance.
On this first day they're up. They're out. The neighborhoods breathe with life, and the school crossings and parking lots are deserted.
The young are back.