Letter from Birdland: A silver moon starts a gentle morning

Letter from Birdland: A silver moon starts a gentle morning

This morning before sunrise, the full moon coaxes me to wakefulness. It has been calling me all night as I drifted in and out of dreams. And now, at the far side of the year, it rises and swings across the sky well toward the south.

I can't see its face from my bed as I did a few months ago, but the silver light spills into my room. I stand and go to the window and gaze out for a moment above the shorn field.

I can see Jim's brown sheds dwarfing his house, his whole farm looking like a toy from the distance. Telephone poles punctuate the road, and it turns right over the highway, where the tiny toy trucks roll east and west with their cargo.

To the south, my left, tiny boxcars line up where they are stored on the Monticello Railway Museum line. They are a flat, silver color in the predawn moonlight. This is the same line my grandmother rode to get to high school in Monticello.

I see how the rumpled quilt of the fields makes the front of the train disappear like it's headed downhill. We think of these fields as flat, but this morning, I see subtle rises and hummocks.

A commotion in the chicken coop draws my eye toward its lighted window. My brain is still in the model railroad world, and I fancy that the coop is a tiny cabin, its plastic window with frosted glass and the family inside getting ready for the day.

I step into my slippers, knowing that the sound will signal Ursula that I am really up now and her breakfast kibble will soon come. I am grateful for this gentle morning.

I go into the kitchen and Ursula dogs my steps, reminding me, as if I've forgotten, that she's hungry. I start the coffee, and she barks, and I remind her that I always start the coffee before going into the basement to scoop her food and the cat's into dishes. Shiva gets hers first, and she jumps lightly onto the old wood cookstove, where her bowl is out of Ursula's reach.

By now, Ursula is prancing like a pony. I pour, and her kibble rings against the metal bowl, but she knows to wait until I give the signal. I let her wait while I measure one, then two scoops of pellets for the chickens. She sits, wagging her tail, expectantly, if not patiently, as I tromp up the basement stairs to the kitchen door.

"OK!" I say brightly, the signal she's waiting for, and she dives into her breakfast as I pull the door shut behind me. I am grateful for the obedience of a little black dog who unwittingly gives the chickens a head start on their breakfast.

In five minutes, I will come back and let her out, and she will do her rounds, checking all corners of the yard before running to the coop to nose aside the chickens and gobble what's left of their pellets.

I come back in from the frosty morning and pour my coffee and sit down to my daily work at my desk. I get a head start before the rest of the family wakes up. I like to do a chunk of grading or class prep before driving to my office on campus.

I try to keep an eye on the time, though, so I can have a few minutes with Ellis before he catches the school bus. This morning, I hear his door slam even though I haven't put in my hearing aids yet. My oldest is up already! I go into the kitchen to see why and find him at the table with Michael. My husband has a thick textbook in front of him. Ellis has a bowl of cereal and a worksheet full of scribbles and formulae.

Michael reminds me that Ellis is studying for the WYSE competition, and they turn back to their equations. I can help my son with essays and literature; numbers of any kind is Michael's department. I wonder who is coaching whom. I listen to their soft murmur of numbers and explanations for a moment and pour myself another cup of coffee before returning to my work. I am grateful for this gentle morning.

Fancy beauty; practice peace; blessed be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath, where she always has one harebrained scheme or another up her sleeve. Her latest book,"Breakfast for the Bee," is available athttp://www.etsy.com/au/shop/BirdlandBookArts. You can read more of her writings athttp://www.letterfrombirdland.blogspot.com. She can be reached at letterfrombirdland@gmail.com.

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