Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Early in the morning, as Orion and the Pleiades fade from the their course in the western sky, there aren't many people stirring. While the mountains and their residents awaken with song and different sorts of silence, the humans are begrudgingly rising from their bedclothes with bleary eyes and muttered curses.
I've been outside for weeks at a time in the mountains and deserts of Utah and Wyoming, and one thing that I've noticed is the difference in the way that residents of the outside wake up from that of denizens of the 'inside' world.
Most are familiar with birds that awaken as much as an hour before first light to chatter and call, mostly during summer months. I have a six or seven year old rooster who does just that every morning. He is quite enthusiastic about every new day, so stoked in fact that he announces each with a rousing call and reveille that permeates two windows and adobe walls.
I have laid awake during many of his solar predictions. Sometimes I have been quite annoyed, almost to the point of wringing his neck and making a stew of him, in fact. I never acted upon that, and in part because of that, I have enjoyed the opposite emotion while listening to his calls, as well.
Sleeping out in the Waterpocket fold area of southern Utah, in the surrounding mountains and many other instances in the Yellowstone area, I remember the zest and seeming abandon with which wild birds and animals greet each new day. The enthusiasm of those animals was much like that of old Joe the rooster, and I was left at times to reflect upon my own lack of joy at the coming dawn, or for that matter, the dawn that might have begun hours before.
I know that I am very far from alone in my attitude. How many people do you know who rue each morning of the work week? How many human beings are there who "drag" their bodies out of bed with curses for their job and the shortness of the night before? I know far too many, and I am one of them much of the time.
It hasn't always been this way. When I was a child, I would rise before my mother could catch me in the morning after my father had left for work and go to one of my friend's houses to rouse them for play. I remember more than once one of their parents meeting me at the door, barefoot and in their pajamas to tell me that their son hadn't awakened yet, and nor had their parents. I loved the morning.
Later on, I would sneak out of my house far before the dawn to walk about the neighborhood and creekbeds about my house. I would sometimes knock on friend's windows to ask them to join me or just talk about things. Others times I would pick rosebuds from yards on my way to strew in girlfriend's window sills or wells. I really did love the morning.
The light seemed so much more hopeful, the scents so much more clear and meaningful in the morning before and as the sun came up.
Listening to the dogs awaken and bark at each other was almost as beautiful as those bird's songs. Imagine that statement with reference to any other time during the day or night. Sure.
I had a great friend who would at times indulge my morning fetishes. Once we took a hike to a place called Elephant Rock, just up the canyon from where we lived. We began before it was light and breakfasted upon cereal and milk from our packs when we got to the promontory. As we watched the light fill the forest and canyon, I remember no words being said, but I remember quite a few smiles and deep breaths taken.
Suffice to say, I have many good memories of the morning tide, with a great many golden people. Where has that 'joi de vivre' gone? I can write at length to that point, and much would touch a great many tender nerves. Much would be trite or all-too common as well, such as that speaking to the common plight of the worker.
I must lay a great deal of blame at the feet of what I see as a continuing alienation from what the dawn chorus represents, a disconnect from the natural world and what gave birth to my very soul. Most of my center is what many would call idealism or a certain detachment from reality, so disconnect might be unavoidable as long as I hold to that sense of self.
The natural world seems to be happy to meet the new day. I am happy to take this lesson in anew every twenty four hours or so, and thanks to old Joe and my memories, I have begun to rise a little earlier as often as I may to walk and smell, and listen.
I need to awaken inside, as well as outside. It's a treat to watch my children and sweetheart sleep their dreams in the twilight, breathing easy just before the light rouses them. They don't sing like the birds or the rooster, but I love their serene faces more than I can express.
I'm enjoying the morning a little more these days.