Saturday, May 21, 2005

Quiet mornings

I'm basically a night owl -- or I used to be. Now I'm not sure what I am.

My work schedule is all over the place due to the lack of work lately because of the doctors' strike, but I work best in the quiet darkness when the frantic pace of daylight has quieted and deep purple wraps everything closely up to the limits of the computer screen's glow. Lately I've been getting up between 5 and 6 just when the sky is lightening and the birds are twittering songs to wake their lazy young. The all you can eat gutter buffet isn't open for business yet and the air smells fresh and new, untouched by sun or rain or the smells of civilization.

I went to bed late last night, falling asleep with a book in my hands -- as always -- and rousing long enough to turn out the light and shift into a more comfortable position with the cool side of the pillow next to my face. The street was quiet and I dove gratefully into the dream pool only to wake as the air freshened and the sky lightened outside the windows. It was a little past six. Lumbering to my feet, I stumbled quietly to the bathroom for the usual biological call, washed my hands, splashed a little cold water on my face and headed to the kitchen for fruit and a couple boiled eggs. After checking my email (there was a lot of spam and not much else), I dropped back to the floor, grabbed my book and stretched before curling into a comfortable position to read.

Beyond the windows the sky was deep blue above where the sunlight washed the horizon to pale powder. Wispy clouds drifted between the gnarled fingers of the trees, their tips yellow-green in the rising light, and silhouetted birds streaked through the branches in spiraling displays of spring excitement while they dove and soared and cracked the whip. It was a soft morning full of empty canvas waiting to be sketched and painted with scattered lines or a more definite plan, and it was quiet.

As much as I've always disliked mornings, I have come to appreciate the cool tranquility as much as the velvet darkness. Each hour of the day is different and holds a special moment or two. Saturday mornings the buzz and whine of lawn mowers begin early, punctuating the day in bursts of activity as the sun warms and heats the air and the ground. Squirrels peer out of their nests and slowly climb down the tree trunks, scampering a bit and then running headlong toward the buffet to fill their fat furry cheeks with the wind's gift from delicate limbs where they cannot go. Birds join them in the troughs, pecking and picking at scraps too tiny to interest the squirrels. Parents call to their children and the whine of motor scooters and cycles mingle with the whish of tires on asphalt. The day begins.

I still have those cool quiet mornings to myself when the rest of the neighborhood sleeps soundly, reaching for an extra hour or two because it's Saturday. Mornings like these remind me of younger times when I stubbornly refused to answer my mother's call to wangle an extra 15 or 20 minutes of sleep because I was too tired to get up after having watched Chiller Theater until 2 AM.

I finally have what I waited for all those teenaged years, the luxury of sleeping in and ignoring the chores with a good book and a handful of strawberries or getting up and putting away clothes and books and organizing the rest of my unpacked boxes.

Today, I think I'll gear up with some music, put away some clothes, pack my backpack and take a walk to the library and the park.

I've already had my strawberries.

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