Forty Years, Forty Posts #32

…I am content when wakened birds,
Before they fly, test the reality
Of misty fields, by their sweet questionings

– Wallace Stevens, “Sunday Morning”

I’ve always been a morning person, but I’m up especially early this morning because of retiring early last night after a tiring day, and because of setting the clocks back to where they should be. (I’m generally a fan of Mr. Franklin, but I’ve never been big on the idea of setting the clocks an hour ahead so we can pretend we slept in — maybe it’s because I’m a morning person.)

On the right kind of morning, where you are well rested and have nothing to dread (like work or school), it’s easy to feel all right about the world. All of my favorite poets and philosophers were morning people: Wordsworth, Stevens and Frost; Franklin, Emerson and Thoreau.

Early morning is often magical. I learned this as a small boy when I crawled out of bed an hour before dawn and toddled down the hall to investigate some strange noises. What I found was a tumble of newborn puppies in the basket with our prolific dachshund, Ginger.

There have been spring mornings where I found a coast and watched the sun rise over the ocean, and summer mornings where I took walks through the woods as they slowly came to life around me, as chipmunks and red squirrels and a fraternal order of birds tending to their daily business. But I especially enjoy winter mornings, when the world is even more hushed. When it’s snowed the night before, you can be the first to inscribe your footprints on the blank slate of the world — like the day itself, it’s a page with many possibilities.

There are rare winter mornings, too, where the tree boughs are shagged with ice that catch the first rays of sunshine and make the world look like it’s carved out of cubic zirconium. That effect doesn’t last long, thanks to solar power. You have to get up early to enjoy it.

Autumn mornings like this one are pleasant, too. It’s Sunday, so the city is quiet. On a weekday there would already be traffic noise. Instead I just hear a slight wind, the call of a crow, and the occasional buzzing of a beetle caught in the light. The kitten — also a morning person — leaps to the bookshelf to try and get at it. Eventually the newspaper will come with mind-numbing stories about the inevitable doom of us all, but right now everything is perfect.

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