Tuesday, January 19, 2021


 I thought I would sleep late this morning, since nothing was on my schedule and nothing looms: but I woke at four. I stirred the stew in the slow-cooker -- there's a hot spot on one side where the rice starts to glom, otherwise -- and went back to bed. Counted breaths to a hundred and fifty, little sheep jumping over a uvular stile, and then gave it up. I was brooding on Senate rules and presidential pardons, viral mutations and vaccine distribution: for all the world as if all that was in my sphere of control, and anxious courtiers were waiting for my pronouncements at the Rising From The Royal Bed.

So I got up, and here I am, a semi-retired sixty-something nobody in particular, having shooed away the phantom courtiers, figuring out the shape of the day. Nearly seven, and not a trace of dawn in the midwinter sky. There probably would be if I went outside, but from here it's all reflections from the lamp, the lurid glow of the laptop screen, the little green and red and amber lights of various electronics that dot our nighttime. For background music, the hum of many little motors doing little tasks: the heat exchanger, the fridge, the clock of the microwave, who knows what-all? Always that ambient buzz, not quite harmonizing with the silvery song of of my tinnitus. What was silence like, again? Does anyone remember?

And a candle. Lucretius and the votive candles arrived post-haste a couple days ago -- somebody drove up from San Bernardino and up over the Siskiyou Pass, with a dull ache in their bladder, and ate a burger and fries in Medford while their rig grumbled in the pullout, to deliver them to me, and I'll never know who it was. Somebody else, equally unknown, drove it to my front porch, and, a bit unnervingly, posted picture of the box standing there on my doormat, which was emailed to me within seconds of being taken. I opened the door and there it was. "You look so like your photographs!" I told it. Anyway, thanks to you both, and may the days be kind to you! The candles work splendidly: my coffee stays hot, but unembittered. Whether Lucretius works so well, I don't know: I'm going to finish Stephenson's Quicksilver first.

Here comes the dawn. Beyond the hedge, a soft surprisingly mauve sky: I had though we'd have one of those dark leaden overcasts, but it's a free sky, with real light washing over it. And now the first squirrels are moving in the laurel branches. So the world is still here.


Sabine said...

I loved reading this.

A few years ago, a friend entered retirement dedicating a year to being awake at dawn, starting at winter solstice - easiest time, we told her - and she followed it through for the entire twelve months and has been sticking to it ever since. She claims her body now wakes her up.

Dale said...

:-) I've always woken at or before dawn. There's no intention or virtue in it: it's just when my body wakes up. But it's my favorite time of day, for sure, before all the crowding and shoving and bustling gets started.