In The Morning

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1996. All rights reserved.

You are washed up out of dreams like a castaway, bobbing in the surf. There's an urge to linger, floating aimlessly, but the firm tide of purpose pushes you toward awareness, that solid land of here and now.

Another day begins in darkness, like so many others. You walk as if naked on the sands of a strange shore, fumbling for recognition. A switch on the wall creates startling light. In the mirror, the face of a newborn, a bit dazed and befuddled.

Crescent Moon and Venus by John K. Nakata A cat herds you toward the kitchen, crying breakfast. You heat water on the stove, break eggs over a frying pan, pour milk from a carton.

The kitchen windows are dark and reflective. Hold a hand against the glass and look outside. Skies are clear. No sign of those showers. There's the moon, a soap shaving hanging above the horizon with Venus, the morning star.

A warm mug of coffee. A newspaper. Livestock and grain prices. These are morning matters.

Like fertile but undervalued land, some folks have given up on the early hours of the day for the more glamorous moments of evening. They have moved their lives into the twilight, away from the dawn. Morning is the North Dakota of our days; night is California.

Morning is farm reports on the radio, birdsong in the trees, dew-wet grasses, sunlight lying sideways across the land. Evening is movies, night clubs, fluorescent lights, wailing sirens, sidewalks and pavement.

Some favor one side of the day over the other; many don't have much choice. Flip a coin, heads or tails. Both have equal value, when you come right down to it. But it does makes a difference which side of the day you live on, both in how you spend your hours and the kinds of things you witness.

It's the early bird that gets the worm, they say. But what worm are you fishing for?

The day commences at four because animals have to be chored, vehicles need readying, children gotta have full bellies before their schooling, and there's a long drive into town for supplies today.

And also because there's this feeling, deep down inside sometimes, that missing out on the start of the day is like losing a chance at seeing the birth of a wild creature, wide-eyed and wet, staggering uncertainly on its legs for the first time.

Outside, you survey the terrain in an amber pre-dawn light. A low mist lingers over the barley fields, gathers more thickly in the orchard. There a jay flutters from limb to limb, unusually silent.

The mare stands alone in the pasture, reed-still. A truck rattles down the section road. The neighbor's dog barks. Far off, a rooster crows to announce the day.

Then the sun comes up, bright and magnificent, and plants you firmly with its warming glow. Your soul responds by reaching down into the soil, the earth beneath your feet, and rooting itself in this reality.

Good morning.

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