Tag Archives: morning

Frosty Morning

Standard

november2015 053

I walked out this morning before the sun had reached the treetops, camera in hand and the little dog at my side.

My only intent was to photograph the asparagus; the ice-covered fronds were waving at me from their garden bed.

Grass crackled under my feet. A layer of frost covered everything.

The grapevines are bare, except for a few wilted leaves. I’ve been picking grapes for weeks, to eat and to share. The local birds have indulged as well. The Coffell family came last week, to pick the last few bunches. In exchange, they left two quarts of fresh apple cider and a jar of their homemade maple syrup.

The wisteria, climbing up the gate post, still has its leaves, though they’re dry and limp and flutter madly as I walk by.

The sedum, Autumn Joy, is undaunted by this crisp morning. I may get time yet, to go out and prune the stalks. If not, they’ll stand strong all winter, with their rosy dried flower heads peeking out above the snow.

A clump of “brown-eyed Susans,” the blossoms all covered in ice crystals, seem surprised by this turn in the weather. The already furry mullein leaves have just added another layer.

november2015 049

november2015 050

There are apples that we pick in the early fall. Others – the winter apples, which are the best for storage – are inedible until we’ve had a frost.

Frost mellows the flavor of parsnips and kale. It halts the growth of carrots, so they’ll keep in the ground until they’re needed.

Frost signals – better than any calendar can – the end of summer.

It reminds me – a gentle reminder, as it disappears as soon as the sun touches it – that the seasons are changing. There are things to set aside, until next spring. There are things to do now, pruning and mulching and clearing, before the snow comes…before the cold is here to stay.

I came in inspired from my little walk.

I put a pot of beans on the stove, for soup that can simmer all day.

I mixed rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower nuts and almonds with a bit of cinnamon and a good swig of maple syrup. I spread it out on a sheet pan, and put it in a low oven to toast, for homemade granola. I’ll add currants and dried cherries when it comes out of the oven.

I made bread dough, and put it on the counter where it can share the oven’s heat to rise.

There are other things to do: housekeeping; bookkeeping; writing; laundry. They wait for me, year ’round.

It’s only in the fall and winter, though, that they are joined, in my house, by the smells of soup, fresh bread and cinnamon.

Sometimes a reminder to enjoy this present day is the very best way to begin the morning.

Mornings Like This

Standard

november2013 097

Yesterday, a warm wind entertained us.

The temperatures were above normal, the strong breeze felt balmy and – I swear – it smelled like spring.

“This must be our Indian Summer,” one person after another suggested.

A day like that is a pleasure, any time of the year.

In November, it’s a gift.

Today, it’s raining.

After a night of the soundest, most uninterrupted sleep I’ve had in weeks, I woke up early.

Rosa Parks would like her walk. The little dog has made several trips outside on her own already, dashing for the shelter of the wild cherry tree, then running back in to demand her reward. The walk can wait for daylight…and at least one cup of coffee.

I woke up, as usual, with a dozen tasks playing ’round in my head that need to be done immediately. I turned on the computer before I turned on the coffeepot.

I remember, like a happy dream, what my life was like before bookkeeping became such a large part of it.

Now, with the Beacon, my life is filled with record-keeping chores. What did I have to worry about, before spreadsheets and Excel files? What joy, when the only address I had to keep track of was my own!

It is amazing to me how much time it takes to keep track of nine hundred and seventy-one subscribers. If I’m not changing addresses – and it seems that they do nothing but move! – I am updating renewal dates, changing names or altering the manner of delivery. Then there are the problems of issues that don’t reach the subscriber: I need to retrieve the address and send out another copy. Other times, issues come back to me, undelivered. That is a mystery that needs to be solved, as it results in addition postage fees. Wouldn’t you think that the list of subscribers that did not receive their Beacon would match up with the stack of returned magazines? But no.

Advertisers are a separate bookkeeping necessity. Two, in fact, as picture ads are a different database than classified ads. Billing seems complicated and difficult, but even harder is keeping them up to date. Once, a man came into the hardware to angrily admonish me for continuing to run his ad months after the property had changed hands. That was the first I’d learned of it and, though I was sorry, I have yet to identify¬† which exact ad is his, so I’ve been unable to remove it. Since I’m still struggling with billing, at least he hasn’t been asked to pay for it!

For Dion, the “Mailroom Specialist” who labels and sends the magazines, I need to send a check to cover postage and his small fee, then convert my updated subscriber spreadsheet into two Excel files: one for first class, the other for standard delivery. I also need to find time to talk to him about the issues that aren’t making it to the recipient, and the ones that are coming back to me. And, I’ve received a few calls because – though the payments are up-to-date – the labels say the subscription expired last year. What’s going on with that?

These are the thoughts and worries and many unfinished tasks that interrupt my sleep and drive me out of bed before dawn.

This morning, to be greeted by darkness and rain.

Mornings like this, I wrap myself in the fleecy bathrobe. I pour coffee into my favorite little cup: thin rim, sturdy round handle, decorated with a pattern of blackberries. I add real cream (well, real “half and half”) rather than 2% milk. I give Rosa Parks a chewy biscuit that will keep her busy for a while. I thank all the forces in play for the rain, that contributed to my good night’s sleep.

And all is right with the world.

This Morning

Standard

november2015 019

Children and animals don’t understand Daylight Savings Time.

They stick to their own schedules.

My nieces and nephews with babies in the home have been noting how they missed out this year, on that extra hour of sleep.

In my household, it means my little dog starts early this time of year, asking for her dinner. It means she’s ready for sleep earlier, too. She comes to find me – at computer desk or in the studio – and cocks her head. “Still working? It’s bedtime,” her look tells me. When she gives up and walks away, I imagine a shoulder shrug, head shake and a mumbled comment about how I’ll be sorry tomorrow.

In the morning, we get up on time, no matter what the clock says.

Even if it’s my day off.

Even if it’s one of those frosty mornings when the air is cold and the blankets form a cozy cocoon and I don’t want to move.

We get up because the little dog – unaware of the time change – needs to go outside.

I turn on the coffee pot; it will be ready when I come in.

I pull my white, fleecy robe from the hook on the bathroom door, pick up the camera from the desk, grab a few pieces of kibble from the dog food bin, and slide into the shoes that wait by the kitchen door.

Out we go!

This is our routine, year ’round.

Sometimes boots and winter coat replace the shoes and bathrobe. Other days, the big umbrella is necessary. Rarely, but on a couple summer days I go out in just pajamas and bare feet.

Some days the ground is so wet with dew, it dampens my feet right through my shoes. Sometimes, a fresh snow welcomes us.

There are mornings when I’m greeted by a big moon and a sky full of stars.

This morning, frost has turned the asparagus fronds to silver. Leaves crackle under my feet. In the trees, dark branches are revealed where the leaves have fallen. They form a striking backdrop for the color that is left: yellows have turned to amber, and oranges to rust.

Over it all, this autumn sky.

This morning, like every other, I hate to get out of bed. I shudder when my feet hit the cold floor. I grumble as I maneuver my sleepy self into bathrobe and shoes. I complain to myself as I walk around the yard and garden, waiting for the little dog to finish her morning constitutional.

This morning, like every other, I am enriched by the experience in spite of myself.

Daylight Savings Time Changeover Day Blues

Standard

Image

Good Morning!

It’s not really morning anymore.

I’ve already been outside walking in the woods with my dogs today.

I’ve had my morning coffee.

I’ve returned three telephone calls from messages left on my answering machine.

I’m watching the clock, counting time before I have to get ready to go to work.

Today was the day I could set the clocks back, for Daylight Savings Time.

One extra hour!

I saved the act of re-setting clocks for morning, so it would seem like a bonus.

One extra hour to drink coffee or write or read or lounge in a bubble bath!

One extra hour to catch up on the dozens of tasks there are not time for in a normal day!

One extra hour of golden time!

I slept through it.

Simple as that, I slept through it.

For years, I teased my friend, Diane, about her tardiness. She was late for everything, to the extreme. She is famous for it, still, here on Beaver Island. Everyone has a “Diane was so late…” story. She always said she’d be late for her own funeral. In fact, for that, she was too early, in my mind.

In the last several years, I found myself developing Diane’s habit myself, of being less than punctual. I was getting pretty lackadaisical about it, too. After all, we live on an island where bumper stickers say, “Slow Down…this ain’t the Mainland!” and “There is no LATE on Beaver Island!”. We talk about the slower pace and more relaxed schedules of “island time”. Then, my aunt gave me a pretty stern lecture about the inconsideration of tardiness. I took it to heart. I set my clocks ahead.

I allow myself to be fooled by whatever the clock says.

Enforced gullibility.

It helps that each clock says something different, so I’m not sure which one to trust.

So, this morning, I started the coffee brewing, and went room to room.

The little, old-fashioned dial clock in the bathroom, back one hour. Still twenty minutes fast, so I won’t linger too long in the bathtub, or take too much time tweezing things or trying to do something creative with my hair.

The digital clock in the CD player on the bookshelf in the living room, back one hour, still ten minutes fast.

The small, battery-operated alarm clock in the bedroom, back one hour, twenty-five minutes fast. To allow for me to hit the “snooze” button at least twice, and still be pleasantly surprised by the earliness of the hour when I make it to the next clock.

The large, schoolhouse clock in the kitchen, back one hour, fifteen minutes fast. This clock loses time pretty regularly, so I have to keep my eye on it. Sometimes I set it a little extra-fast, to compensate.

The little clock on the oven and the watch I wear on my wrist, I set back one hour to the correct time. I need to be, at some point, in touch with real time. I can’t actually read either of these dials without my glasses.

By that time, the coffee was finished.

I poured a cup.

Last week, I took a phone call from a friend before my coffee had finished brewing. We ended up in a discussion that had no business happening, and that left us both feeling bitter.

Now, I don’t answer the phone until I’m ready to talk.

I usually sit at the computer checking my e-mail account while drinking my first cup of coffee. The dogs can go out at this time, but they can’t go in and out, in and out, and they can’t beg for treats, or bother me for their morning walk.

I have enjoyed thinking that they understand when I say, “First cup of coffee!”

Turns out, they don’t.

It turns out, my dogs cannot tell time, either, and don’t care one bit about Daylight Savings Time.

No matter how diligently I set every clock back one hour, when I overslept this morning, I got up just in time for their walk, and they weren’t about to have it any other way.

Now, my bonus hour is gone.