Friday, July 1, 2011

Period 3, the Early Riser

In accidental keeping with the homestead lifestyle, I wake up each morning at five-thirty.  It's not a choice. I could sleep another hour or two, but I just can't.  Occasionally, I wear myself out over the course of a few weeks that I find myself waking, startled, at about seven.  But, after ten years of waking whenever a child needed to be nursed or visit the potty, I am now, officially, an early riser.

I'm not complaining.  In fact, I love it.  With a child who is now old enough to stay up as late as the grown-ups do, the wee hours are the only ones I get to have to myself.  I am haggard and bleary-eyed with yesterday's mascara flaking under my eyes.  My bathrobe smells like dog.  My mouth tastes like wax.  But, I am comfortable and at peace.
(me in the morning -- I can't believe I'm posting this!)
I get to watch the sun rise into the early morning, calling wisps of dew skyward.  The look of morning steam rising reminds me of a smoldering campfire, left to burn out until the next day.  The hens need to be let out, the dogs fed.  It feels quiet and homey.  Sometimes I put on a pot of coffee and bring my mug to the balcony to sit a while on the crumbling wicker furniture I found on Craigslist for a song.  I'll listen.  A neighbor out for a walk with her purebred might pass by below, and I'll wave if she notices me.  If she doesn't, I'll just let her go by.
 (view of the maple in my yard where my two old dogs are buried)
(view of my corner, look close- a robin looks for worms)
During the school year, I've used this time to catch up on emails I need to write.  The life of an elementary school mom is run via email almost entirely.  Playdates, PTA meetings, field trips.  Everything is coordinated this way, so it's been a good way to get my day started productively, if not joyously.

Recently though, it's when I blog. My coffee mug goes on the windowsill in the little nook, just off the kitchen, where I write.
(my nook)
There was a morning fifteen years ago or so, when I'd been living in New York only a few months, when I had a morning such that I have routinely now.  What on earth I was doing up on Manhattan's Upper West Side at five a.m. I really can't recall.  I wasn't a partier, so I must have had some legitimate reason.  In any case, the air was blue.  It must have been that the sky was clear, but the sun had yet to rise.  It created a blue effect on everything.  And, the air was still.  New York is not so often quiet, and I marveled at it.

For years, I secretly despised my mornings.  A child had inevitably kept me up, while my husband had inevitably slept with his face smooshed under a pillow.  My face only looked smooshed under a pillow.  These mornings weren't mine, though.  They belonged to an infant, a toddler.  And, as much as I've cherished my time with all my kids, wouldn't hire a nanny, wouldn't trade a single moment...  I've also truly appreciated the recent months with my youngest now, ironically, old enough to get himself up and pour a bowl of cereal.

Things changed for me back in February and March, when we were having terrible winter weather.  The temperature would be thirty-three, and it would rain.  Then the temp would drop and freeze the water.  Then, it would snow over that.  It was worse than winter in Minnesota because, there, it just snows all season.  It's fluffy and ice-free.

We had a new puppy, Walnut, who had not yet been trained on the Invisible Fence; I had to take him out on a leash to do his business, and I had to do it early of course lest he piddle his crate. I'd don my silver rain boots, cram my thickly bathrobed self into jacket I'd gotten from a hospital where I'd once volunteered.  The rain would wet the hair sticking out of the hood an eventually soak through the hood, too.  Ice chips blew into my face, my hands.  Yet, for a reason I still can't explain, I was warm.  Not like a beach in Hawaii, but like I had regulated my own internal temperature against the external cold.  And, the  wind that truly whipped felt like a breeze.

For a not-so-religious person, this was a religious experience for me.  As I stood out in that weather, knee-deep with my puppy in the snow-covered-everything, it felt like the Breath of God.
(same tree as above)
Science has now explained the tendency to rise early, to be a "morning person," by locating a gene called Period 3.  Apparently the shorter the gene, the earlier we wake up.  Conversely, night owls have the gene in longer form.  I love it when science discovers the reasons for our very humanity, but I love even more to be human without explanation.

These hours are when I show love to myself, care for myself.  In a blink, the rest of my family will wake and I'll be needed to pour orange juice.  I'll do it with a smile, too, because I've invested in myself first.

I wish our newest additions to the family - two exchange students from Spain who arrived last night - have gotten a good rest.

I'm thankful that I have time for myself.

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