If you’re a faithful reader—as most of you are—you’ll remember that last week, I was off to bed on the early side. This week—as you might imagine—I’m early to rise. I’m talking bird early; farmer early; sometimes even rooster early. Cock-a-doodle-do!
Call me a crazy lark but I always savor the first few moments of a new day: the stillness; the anticipation; the coffee. Most pre-dawn mornings, you’ll find me in my porch rocker, waiting for the sky to lighten, the birds to sing, and that coffee to perk. I admit that on some of those mornings I still dream and drool about a fresh almond croissant or one of Mistress McGlynn’s bacon-and-cheddar scones, but most days I’ve learned to make do with a healthier bowl of my yogurt, blueberries, sliced peaches, and granola concoction. Sigh.
Over here on the Right-hand Shore, dawn doesn’t come sweepin’ down the plain like the wind in “Oklahoma!” It doesn’t even creep in on little cats’ feet like Chicago fog. There’s very little fanfare, almost no crescendo; the soundtrack to our dawn is more like Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending” than it is to Richard Strauss’ “Thus Spake Zarathustra.” An Eastern Shore dawn just gently illuminates the day, bringing with it a daily dose of hope and the anticipation of another twenty-four hours in our little corner of paradise. And for a few minutes, I feel like it’s mine alone.
Aristotle was an early riser. So was Ben Franklin. And we all know about that fat early bird that catches the worm—not that I’m likely to be competing with said bird for worms any time soon. But I’ll admit to a certain feeling of moral superiority knowing that I’m up and at ‘em while everyone else in the house, down the street, and across town are still slumbering. But let me not judge. Feel free to roll over and catch another forty winks while I knock off another chapter in the next great American novel or hop on my bike and set off on a twenty-mile ride. OK; perhaps that last part is fake news; even if the body really were willing, the flesh is, alas, tilting to the weaker side these days.
I’m not sure how I came by this early diurnal habit, but it has become a comfortable old friend. The first hours of the day are likely to be among my most productive, although the social 5 o’clock cocktail hour often comes in a close second. I relish my early morning solitude—that first jolt of hot joe along with all those unvarnished thoughts that flow from my previous night’s dreams like boats gliding downstream on a falling tide.
My early morning routine is a lightly toasted everything bagel schmeared with peace, gratitude, and hopeful anticipation. It’s fresh, not sullied by any to-do list or incongruent thoughts or even any overnight inflammatory rhetoric from the Mad Tweeter. Oh, I’ll eventually get around to letting the hurly-burly of the world in, but for a few still moments, I’m content to stay in my own slow lane and watch the world wake up one more time.
I’ll be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015. A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was published in May 2017; a second volume of Musings entitled “I’ll Be Right Back” was released in June 2018. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com