Listen carefully as dawn breaks over The Battery. Squawking seabirds combine with the sounds of lapping waves on the rocks below to announce another day in paradise has begun.

Charleston in the early morning hours is a symphony of sounds, from birds chirping high in the palmetto trees to the perpetual padding of joggers along the seawall.

Down a side street, an air conditioner kicks into gear but does not drown out the distant bark of a dog pulling his master along the quiet sidewalk.

High above the Carolina Yacht Club, flags salute the Cooper River side of the harbor while halyards clang against idle masts in the City Marina on the Ashley.

As our city yawns and stretches, the bells of St. Michael's toll, a ringing reminder of every morning that has come and gone and will come again, with or without us.

First wink

Behind high walls, fountains trickle, barely audible above the spitting sprinklers spraying thirsty lawns.

Always silent are the ancient graveyards, where they've heard it all before.

Turn a corner and sparrows fly, squirrels scamper and a cyclist whizzes by, tires whirring on the pavement as he passes.

Men with badges enter the courthouse through a side door, as a machine spits out tickets to the parking garage.

Colonial Lake is a stillshot but for a ripple that barely causes the tympanic membrane to tremble.

In White Point Garden, oyster-shell paths announce your approach, making a hoot owl most unhappy.

Splashing water awaits squealing children in Waterfront Park. Nearby, groggy passengers disembark a cruise ship that drones in its berth like a hummingbird anxious to leave.

Down the street, workers systematically empty parking meters that sound like city slot machines.

Clip-clop

On Meeting Street, garbage trucks idle restlessly and city buses hiss and bow as they take on passengers.

Oak leaves rustle on the sidewalk along that shady stretch near the art museum, and there's the unmistakable clink of coffee cups coming from Toast.

On East Bay, beer trucks line up to refill coolers drained the night before, and vendors unload their wares in the Market for another day in the trinket trade.

Overhead, silhouetted against a bright blue sky, an Air Force C-17 slips down through white puffy clouds, yet the sound of a squeegee on a restaurant window prevails.

In the lobby of Charleston Place, luggage wheels roll across marbled floors while a cappuccino machine in Starbucks whirs across the street.

On Liberty, a shop owner turns the key and opens for business as the summer silence surrounds the Cistern on the campus of the College of Charleston.

Nearby, bacon sizzles on the grill at Jack's Cafe, and by midmorning, the ubiquitous clip-clop of carriage horses completes the quiet cacophony that is an early morning in Charleston.

Reach Ken Burger at kburger@postandcourier.com or 937-5598 or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Ken_Burger.