I've been up since a bit after five. Long enough to dash some cold water on my face, insert the new contacts, brew a cup of coffee, and without turning on any lights, lurch down the hall to my workroom where I managed a successful landing in my deskside chair without tripping over the dog or spilling my hot drink.
Not all my mornings start so well.
It is still dark out, though the first hint of light should come leaking over the eastern horizon within the next fifteen minutes. A half hour after that it will be light enough to begin seeing colors—the six to seven million photoreceptor "cones" in our retinas beginning to kick in—though still too dark to see a cardinal in the blackberry briars well enough to tell whether it's a male or female. For now, all I see beyond the window are a few lighter splashes in the cloying darkness, which I know to be the limestone slabs I've laid for a walkway.
But I can hear a robin swinging through his lilting welcome to the coming sun—a bright, cheerful melody that's filled with promise as it rings with joy. No wonder the darkness flees when it hears the robin!
In a few minutes I'll take Moon the dog out for her morning constitutional. While she's off doing her business, I'll check my river rock which sits round and solid in the riffle edge near the front of the cottage. I use this rock to judge the state of the river's depth and flow…at least until rising water covers it up, whereupon I rely on other natural gauges for my information. Not that I expect to see anything amiss this morning. It hasn't rained more than a sprinkle here for days.
No, the rock is more of a friendly oracle, a visual touchstone to the beginning of my day. I am a creature of habit and find comfort in certain small routines. Checking the river rock is simply a modest reassurance, like the robin's buoyant greeting and the sound of my beloved old dog snuffling about under the junipers. A positive note that at least for now, all is well…