Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Color of Morning

I imagine more than a few of my readers hunt and fish.  They understand all about  getting up  way too early because you wanted to? Awoken while the sky was black infinitude, only a small sliver of moonlight to guide you as you leave your house. As you roamed the land seeking, moonbeams a soft caress, sculpting your form as you climb into your blind, as if climbing closer to the sky you can hold heaven even closer.

Have you ever watched the color of the dawn? Really watched it as it turns from black to pink to orange to the brilliant white of the world. When the dawn lightens behind the stark shapes of your life, and like a rose unfolding, like a lovers first kiss, there's a quivering beginning of hope.

Most people don't. Most people hit the snooze button. Weekends I do that as well, snuggled face down, legs splayed, arms out, laid out on a king sized pillowtop alter to the god of sleep. But I know, that eventually I will have to get up and go. But today? It's Saturday. Today I don't want to. I'm not really exhausted but neither am I bound by some duty to leap out of bed, I'm simply hung up, trapped under a log in a current of time and environment, that has no direction, beneath a sullen night sky that will continue to wane towards yet another evening, toying with me, until maybe I'm shot out into the current that I was pulled into sleep from, and in the meantime it doesn't matter.

For years, there was no reason to get up early.

Except him. So with soft warm breathe and the nudge of whiskers he would find me, underneath the warm Pendleton blanket, like a caretaker, rousting out a soul found napping in a pew long after services are over, nudging me towards the door with the urgency born of prisoned spring and small doggie bladder.

It's early. TOO early. The sky is the darkness of stone formed deep within the earth, that only when split open, reveals its wondrous color. For whatever reason, it beckoned. So on such mornings, rather than crawl back into bed when Barkley was done with the unexpected revelry of cold snout, I grabbed my gun and stepped out into the world to watch it unfold.

Settled up with my back against a tree, I watched as the color cracked open the earth, just a hint of a smile as it shy stepped to take a bow.

What struck me were the colors. How do you describe such color? A red of a royal blue-red, that in centuries past would have been forbidden to be worn by the masses, on threat of death. Oranges and yellows, dripping like forgotten fruit into the horizon, their taste and texture, fragrant and lush against the plate of the earth. Pink and white, the color of salt water snails found in the submerged sands of paradise, washed clean of their prison. Then finally blue, just a hint of blue, paler even than the bluest sky I remember from my last time aloft, just a hint of blue, fading, for into the sky comes the weather, thick clouds pulled up by the still slumbering earth to cover it and keep it warm.

Soon, too soon, before the sun could even warm the earth, warm me, blue grey gave way to grey, like the whole of Lee's army taking over the battlefield between night and dawn, leaving remnants, blood red on the ground, quickly leeching into the earth, til soon, nothing is left but a grey cloudy darkness again. And so I sat, under sunless, moonless cover, Barkley would go back to sleep beside me, the birds not yet awake, his interest only in being next to me. So dark. So quiet. I was left to trace in the early morning with my eyes closed, all those variated colors that I held for an instant, all the colors that I cataloged in memory, alone in the darkness, the lost hues and shades, sitting by a slumbering dog with hair the color of a starless night, alone, the world turning surely if slowly to gray.

But if I keep my eyes closed, here and now, closed real tight, I can still see the sun, bursting across the back of my eyelids, in the frames of memory of other warm mornings. Color splashing across blackness, set loose in a sudden spray, a thought of someone in the back of my mind, who's light feels warm and comforting, like electricity before the blackout. Someone long gone from this life, though they follow me on every outdoor outing. With the light, there are thoughts of those hunts, those glorious days, a sudden flash of light in this dark world. So I keep my eyes closed as long as I can, to hold the picture in. Hold that memory close. I've got the first light of thought in my soul, stored in a photograph engraved on my eyes, and it will keep me until the sight of another dwindled dawn brings you to me.


  1. Yes. Yes, I have deliberately, with determination and forethought, watched the black night turn into morning, into day. The smells and sounds and temperatures of the night, heating and melting into the awakening morning with the quieting of crickets and the first wakeup calls of the early birds, the cool wind warming with the dawn.
    The experience was tremendously amplified when my wife and I watched sunrise at the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
    There are NO words.
    Thank you for the reminder.

    Rich in NC

  2. There are reasons beyond hunting and fishing to rise early and enjoy a sunrise. Walking with the dog is one. We lost ours a few months ago so the big impetus to get out into the morning is gone, but I still go sometimes and for other reasons. In addition to seeing the world around you slowly change from dark to light you get to smell and hear some portion of the world that was asleep slowly waking and smell and hear the changing of the seasons, slowly and relentlessly.

    Mornings are wonderful. But so is catching an extra few minutes of sleep once in a while ;)


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