Waking Early

This morning I awoke to a frost-covered world. Autumn is marching along; we are now more than halfway through October. One of these mornings I will wake up to snow—it’s a matter of weeks, or maybe even days, now.

As I watched the sky lighten from midnight to sapphire to icy blue and the sun streams transforming the frost into a sea of sparkles, I was reminded of why I love the early morning. Looking out my window, I witnessed what Mary Oliver calls in her poem “Clouds”, ‘just one of the common miracles’. And, like the narrator of that poem, ‘I put it there, close against my heart, where the need is, and it serves/ the purpose.’

Mary Oliver’s poems bring careful, minute awareness to the natural world and link observation with introspection in a way that makes me smile, or frown, or nod, or just plain swell up with emotion as I read them. This particular collection, Why I Wake Early, is an ode to a feeling that can come with the dawn. Well, I feel you, Mary Oliver.

I am not very good at being nocturnal. While I love the moon, and the stars, and the uncanny call of the owl behind my house, I must admit that my mood often sinks with the sun. I don’t know if this is simply because I am tired, or if there is something more to it. But I sometimes struggle not to give into sadness in the evenings.

But come the morning light, slowly climbing and giving the world a look of golden, new-washed promise, things seem to shift.

I would like to write a poem about the world that has in it
nothing fancy.
But it seems impossible.
Whatever the subject, the morning sun
glimmers it.

– ‘This World’

Why I Wake Early is a slim little book, not too intimidating even for those who don’t typically read poetry. I definitely recommend it for anyone who wakes early, or for anyone who doesn’t, and wants to know what the fuss is.

Happy reading!

Frosted flower in the early-morning garden.
Stevie feeling grumpy about the frost on his paws.

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