The sun was well on its way to risen, I was on my second breakfast (lemon tea and cinnamon toast) and I could smell wood smoke in my hair.
After an unusually premature 7pm retirement, I had found myself awake at 3:30 am. My brain was totally convinced that dawn was at hand and not at all ready to let go of the perception of a waking world. I lay in bed until the leisurely hour of 4am and finally gave up the battle. There’s no convincing a mind when it doesn’t want to be convinced (even when it’s your own). It’s not like there wasn’t anything to do. There’s always something to do around here whether you will it or not.
Friday is garbage day and as Friday had officially started for me, I though I might as well get up and take the trash out. The dog looked a little surprised to see me awake on the rising side of morning, being the night owl I am, but she took it in her stride. After all it meant an early breakfast for her and anything that means food is alright with Kera. The birds were already awake. I could hear them calling to each other outside even though it was still too dark to see them.
As long as I was up I thought I might as well get the laundry started. I don’t know why I say “started” quite frankly the laundry never ends, but that’s just the way of it. The laundry is in the basement as is the kitty litter box. It’s not the best place for the laundry with septic as the sewage solution of necessity required by our rural location. The washing machine is below ground and has to drain “up” so to speak. A laundry pump and a short learning curve have led to several flooding “mishaps” and now I know why a main floor laundry is a huge selling point for rural properties.
On the other hand, the basement is the best place for kitty litter as it prevents the dog from filling up on crunchy coated “kitty fritters” during the day and spoiling her supper. Garbage day is kitty litter day. A day made all that much more important with the approach of our feline room mate’s 17th birthday. If the litter box does not display the proper Feng Shui arrangement of a Japanese sand garden, each particle of litter balanced in a gloriously ordered harmony, he will stroll by and leave a “note” of his displeasure on the rug in front of the washing machine. This is a particularly distressing event after he’s spent a night indulging in his favourite snack of Zesty Cheese Doritos (talk about your junk food hangovers). A quick vacuum of the area rug in the basement (I love owning my own house. Where else can you vacuum at 4:30 in the morning?) and the rest of the trash is gathered up and out by the road all before 5am.
First breakfast followed because then I knew for sure I wasn’t going back to bed and there’s just enough time to catch the shirts at that special magical moment in the drying cycle when they are completely dry and wrinkle free. If caught in this fleeting state of grace and enshrined on hangers in their native closet habitats the act of ironing can be avoided indefinitely. This getting up early is for the birds. As a matter of fact they’re gossiping out in the yard like a rioting mob of old fishwives and the red headed woodpecker was jackhammering with such abandon that I had started to feel a little guilty about my feeble housekeeping efforts.
The pile of winter windfall beside the shed needed a quick reduction before it was converted to a spring skunk condo love nest. If you live anywhere that isn’t completely covered in concrete you’ve more that likely got your own skunk story. Mine includes a dog, a shadowy fuzzy figure, tears, the loss of my favourite denim jacket and a 3am frantic phone call to my shift working hubby (not so hard to figure out I’m sure).
The sky had finally started to lighten and the air was still, not a breath of wind. The day was on the cusp of heading toward a high of 18 degrees Celsius. Finally spring had arrived, actually here in Canada as far as most people are concerned anything close to 15 degrees Celsius is shorts weather but really it’s a personal thing. I celebrated by wearing flip flops and my favourite maroon stripped jammy bottoms (I love living in the country.)
I could see the morning star above the pines that line the back of the apple orchard. There was a darker smudge of flat striated cloud limning the opposite bell curve of the horizon. As I lit the paper under the kindling it trembled just a bit in the light not light of early morning dark. Catching quickly the smoke curling up and the sweet smell of pine on the air, the blaze, gave the illusion of a small dawn. The birds hovered and hopped closer, drawn by the lesser star.
Under the chorus of the birds I thought I could hear the sound of the waves on the beach past the fields and the trees. Sometimes the wind waits to play there before it heads up the cliffs and falls into the hollow that marks this small settlement. It might have been the crackle and steam of the winter dried apple and the ever green pine but I like to think it was the voice of the wind in the waves blending with the symphony of bird song and fire.
The real dawn came soon enough and eclipsed its infant brother. The birds, caught shamefaced in their foolish idolatry, scattered to warm themselves under the light of their one true god. I headed inside to tea, toast, a little something for the dog (because she likes toast too) and the actual, factual start of my day.