It takes them not long to see I am merely reading, or listening, or day dreaming. Soon they are flitting about all around me, sometimes flying past me like thrown darts, the sound of their wings, rapid joyous heartbeats. Their songs (so many I wish I knew them all) dance in the air, a kaleidoscope of jewels. And I feel and experience and believe with all my heart and soul that we are indeed friends. We are all together in this early morning moment that is, for now, one of exquisite peace. I am happy in tears.
Without question early morning is my favorite time of day. Has been for years, certainly since I moved out of New York City in 1987 and took a job working on an upstate New York horse farm, a job that had me at the farm at five o’clock in the morning.
Now, there are those of us who are at ease with getting out of bed, blazing through their morning tasks and flying out the door in a dazzlingly brief period of time. Not me. I find the notion of having to leave home unsettling in the first place. Having to leave in a rush is unbearable. The farm was a 30-minute drive from where I lived so I’d get up at three a.m., plenty of time to have coffee, read, write, hang out with Bubba, the Siberian Husky who’d helped me reclaim my ability to leave the house after I was shot and held up again at gun point months later.
Ever since those first days out of the city early mornings have become a sanctuary of peace, healing, free thought, the intoxicating ineffable wonder of a new day emerging, adventure and, in a very real way for me, safety. Why the latter is true I’ve yet to discover, but it is.
Now early morning into mid-morning is dominated by writing. But there is a ritual. I set up the coffee machine the night before so, when I wake, I come into the nest (my writing room), click on a heater and turn on the PC. Then I go downstairs,push the button on the coffee machine and return to the nest. If my New York Rangers played the night before I check to see how they did. I then glance through email, do some chess problems, look at the homepages of NY Times and NPR, and during all this I may listen to Imus in the Morning. I then go downstairs, pour the first coffee of the day, return to the nest, have my morning coffee with Christine by phone or Skype or in person when she is here, and then hunker down to the day’s writing.
After my day’s writing is complete, I go downstairs, start up the fire in the wood stove and, once the fire is going, read.
Early morning, now and forever, my favorite time.
Early morning hours allow the angels of peace.
Early hours have been my favorite time for as far back as my memory allows. I didn’t always allow myself to live them. There is nothing unique in someone denying themselves the healthier things in life. People do it all the time. I begin to allowing myself the early hours when I began working on a horse farm around 1988. I had be at work by five in the morning. Since I’ve always found getting up and rushing out of the house unsettling, a little scary actually, I got up at three and, in doing so, allowed myself the delicious peace of mind, body and spirit present in the day’s first hours.
Now it dawns on me, many years later, the hours themselves are the angels of peace. Time is a gift, to all of us, not to be taken lightly.
And so, in these angel hours, I allow myself the often exquisite movements of classical music, or time with a good book, or the simple joy of watching birds on the feeder, the gutsy Black-capped Chickadees the always rush Titmouse, or the Nuthatches who appear convinced sunflower seeds taste better if you eat them while hanging upside down on the perch, or, just as wonderful, time with you.
Like the unfettered movement of the birds and music, my thoughts and dreams know equal freedom too. It is up to me to pay attention. It is up to me to allow the early morning hours, born on the wings of angels.
Early mornings are my sanctuary. They have been for years now. All year round they are special, each season has its gifts, and nearly always I am wedded to my morning routine. I’ll get to that later.
The soft quiet of winter, the joy of waking up to to the exquisite silence of early morning snowfall. Other winter mornings when I wake up all the world outside is magically sheathed in ice, the smallest of branches glistening as if sheathed in diamonds.
Spring, of course, brings back leaves and the mid-air-jewel-sounds of birds singing. The green of hope and new life emerges everywhere and I get the distinct impression my body, heart and spirit relaxes and they all work better. It’s as if the possibility of loss has passed with the passing of winter. I don’t know why it feels that way to me. It just does.
Summer can give and take energy like no other season. Sometimes the early mornings are warm in a glorious way, the trees and hills outside my window are alive with expectancy, and, like a little boy, I can’t wait to burst out the front door, screaming my own barbaric YAWP (thank you, Walt Whitman) and plunge into the day with all I’ve got. Then, of course, there are other morning so fierce with humidity and heat I swear someone left a giant oven door open.
Fall is tied with Spring as my favorite season for early mornings. Steinbeck once described one aspect of a crisp clear fall day like this: The air looked cleaned and polished. And when the trees here in the northeastern United States are peaking with color the beauty and majesty of it so overwhelming at times it makes me cry with the kind of joy and comfort one feels when in the arms of a loved one.
My morning routine, or, perhaps better put, my morning ritual, runs something like this. Out of bed, letting the dogs out for some, we’ll call it relief. Water on for coffee. Dogs back in for breakfast. Water boils, coffee gets made (I pour the water through fresh ground coffee in a melita). Dogs go out to their pen. Back inside coffee’s ready and waiting. Now I either sit down at the computer and check e-mail, read a bit of the NY Times online (a paper that has sadly lost quite a bit of it journalistic integrity) and then do a bit of writing. The only alteration in this ritual is if I am in the middle of a really good never-want-to-put-it-down book. Then the first sip of morning is taken as I open the book and resume reading. Oh! I will, in warm weather, make toast or an English muffin with the coffee and in the cold weather, oatmeal with real maple syrup.
Early morning brings me another gift as well. Time with my family. Yes, they have nearly all died. But in the early morning I can feel my father with me, and both my mothers. I can feel the presence of my grandparents: Mommom and Poppop and Grandma and Grandpa, my brother, Bobby. And I also can feel the reach of my birth-father, the one I never met, but who helped give me my life.
I love the wealth of peace found in early mornings. I hope you have moments like this in your life too. We all deserve them – and that includes you.