I used to hate mornings. "I'm not a morning person," I'd moan into my palms, as if rearranging my cheeks would help me wake up.
On the other hand, I'm not an afternoon person (hunger, boredom, self-flagellation for not accomplishing more this morning) nor an evening person either (fear at the close of the day, heavy eyes, lassitude -- or the feeling that somewhere there's person who looks just like me wearing a dress with a splash of sequins at the shoulder stepping into a red-boothed cocktail lounge from some 1950's movie who's about to enjoy a smart cocktail and witty conversation and she's not me but I was her or she could have been me and I'll bet her couch doesn't have this weird musty smell).
I've learned over the years to like mornings. The only person in the barn, no music yet, just hay sifting and pellets crunching and the sweep of a broom, cold damp air, and birds. Once the horses were all fed, retiring to my kitchen, making my own cup of coffee and sitting at my funky table that never met up with the wall. Sipping that coffee. Cold feet, stained hands, warm throat. Best part of the day.
Now that I don't have infants my mornings are back.
Hobbes wakes me up at either five or six in the morning. He doesn't even consider going to Dear Butcher's side of the bed. He stands next to me in the pale dark wagging his tail so that it slaps my bookcase. Thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk. He's not anxious or annoyingly eager or begging. Just steady. Slow. "Hey Lady." Thunk, thunk. "Sun's up." Thunk, thunk. "It's time." Thunk, thunk. Doesn't that hurt, Hobbes?
It's cold in the kitchen. It's a stupid kitchen. Lots of windows that don't open and drafts that come through them anyway. The guinea pigs rattle their water bottles at me as I walk past. Tikk-a. Morning, lady. Tikk-a. Mr. Herriman, my aged neutered boar, often chews on the bars in the morning. Odddly, he doesn't "WHEEP! WHEEP!" like the girls. His wheeper seems to be broken. He wheezes faint puffs of air instead, like an old man stepping down out of a bus. I think he took up bar-chewing in the mornings the way an elderly bus rider might take up rattling his cane.
Dog goes out, gets hopelessly lost in the back yard and needs me to leap-limp out there to rescue him. He's blind -- sometimes he finds something in his vision, like today with the quilt thrown over the chair, targets it, and snakes towards it with desperate authority. Head down, front paws taking huge high steps, straight body lancing right towards the edge of the cliff. "I have no idea what this big white object is," his body says. "But it must be important if I can see it."
"No! No!" I'm calling out to him. "Here." His body stops, his head lifts to catch the breeze, as if he can smell my voice. And he decides the white thing must be the house and starts churning again. "No, Hobbes. Over here." And I have to tiptoe out the door, stepping over globs of dried mud on the patio, prickers everywhere, shards of wood my son has left in the aftermath of some experiment involving a hammer. Lay my hand on Hobbes' neck and talk him home. Always an adventure, dude. Can't wait until it starts raining again.
Dog can't be fed until 7. So that's an hour for me. He flings himself to the ground by the front door, bones clattering on the wood floor. The cat's gone out now with all the fluttering around the back door. The guinea pigs have rediscovered last night's hay and are burbling to themselves. The backyard birds are chuttering.
Blissfully, the chickens are still asleep. I don't mind the chickens too much during the day, but we've got one who Announces Her Movements with hugely loud cackles once or twice a day. If I could identify her when she's silent, I'd gladly remove her from the premises. As it is, I'm left with pelting her with wood shards and globs of dried mud once she gets going. That doesn't stop her, and it only makes me feel guilty, so now I just imagine her cartoon self exploding once I hear the first of fifty -three or more "ca-CAW!"s. Sometimes a random thought goes through her Jurassic head and that sets off a long string of ca-CAW! ca-CAW! ca-CAW! comments on how the world ca-CAW! ca-CAW! ca-CAW! needs to listen to the birthers ca-CAW! ca-CAW! ca-CAW! and Fox News and ca-CAW! ca-CAW! ca-CAW! show more respect for Sarah Palin. I hate that bird. But thankfully she's still asleep.
I need to make coffee. Problem is that running the water in the kitchen sink seems to make the guinea pigs think that a commuter train somewhere is going to leave without them. Many zoomies and laps around the cage. Where are my keys? Rosa, where did you put my briefcase? Get OUT of my way! Well, I was just sitting here eating breakfast, what's your problem? Hey! What? Hey! Did you see the time? Where are the keys? Lettuce orgies, festivals of veggies calm them down, but I was hoping to just make myself a pot of coffee without having to -- OK fine. Have some lettuce. And radishes. And tomatoes. Do you want some cucumber? Gosh, you guys are cute.
By then the coffee's done, the sun is up. There's some time to sit on my oddly musty couch (I must clean this thing. Maybe this afternoon. Stop kidding yourself.), inhale coffee steam, warm my hands and breathe.
The animals and me and warm hands. I think I am a morning person.