Friday, August 05, 2011

Why I love mornings

Aleene and I were walking this a.m. sometime after 6:30. I had already been to the garden to check on the 6:00 watering scheme. It was 53 degrees at our house when I arose at 5:45. The sun was barely up and daylight was on its way with a very clear sky. There were three hot air balloons aloft heading into a bank of clouds to the south. I remarked to her on about our third lap at the George Fox track that the feel, sights, and smells of the morning brought back so many pleasant memories of my life.

This is not unusual for me...I frequently spend time capturing the moment and comparing it with the past. I began to think why I had such fond memories of the morning. Perhaps it was that the earliest recollections of dawn included new adventures and activities that I dearly loved. One of my first recollection of early morning included trips in the milk truck with Brother Dave during the summer of 1949. I got to rub elbows with his future brothers-in-law, Bus and Dick Green who were involved in the Green farming enterprise. They were big, tough guys with gentle hearts, ex-WWII Marines, both of them. They always treated me royally if I were tagging along with Dave. You had to get up early while the dew was still on the grass and while the summer sun had not yet rewarmed the cool earth to collect the daily offering of milk from area farmers. It is a pleasant memory.

A few years later we (some of the neighborhood guys) would pitch our tent in the ravine about 1/2 mile from our house which we referred to as "back in the pasture." The moisture from the cool mornings would fill your nostrils with the smell of newly mowed hay somewhere close by. On occasion, the cattle that inhabited the pasture would innocently nuzzle the tent to see what was going on inside. More than one morning we would be awakened by the soft mooing of one or more "bossie." The smell of the pasture at first light was always welcome.

The farm animals that we kept over the years were always mellow in the mornings...and hungry. They depended on us for their sustenance and seemed to nod approvingly as they chewed whatever it was that we gave them to eat. I think those were bonding moments for those four footed friends...unspoken, of course, but no less attaching. Whether it was sheep, or my two Hereford heifers or the several Holstein replacement heifers I helped raise, it was always pleasant to make that connection at the early morning feeding.

In later years it was the chance to arise ahead of the crowd at the fraternity house to get started in the morning. I often chose morning study time over evenings when there were distractions. In the Navy I recall the mornings at Newport as we "fell out" for breakfast. The smell of bacon frying from the mess hall as we stood poised in formation for our turn at good Navy chow, often in our reefers ("P" coats) on those cool brisk summer mornings. On board ship, mornings took on more meaning for me. Sometimes it was the end of the mid-watch at 4:00 a.m. that I would walk up to the weather deck on the hanger bay level to watch and listen to the sea churn beneath the ship. Since then, when we have been on cruise ships Aleene knows that at some point I have to see the sea at sunrise. You see, my refueling station on the carrier was on the starboard side just forward of the deck edge elevator. We spent hours refueling, as long as 6-8 hours at a whack when we were along side a WWII vintage tanker. Frequently, those hours were in the early morning when the sea was glassy-calm and the sun rose like a diamond in the eastern sky.

The smell of Navy ships, singularly, is hard to suppress from my memory. Just last week I once again stepped on board a museum-type destroyer adjacent to the USS Constitution in Boston. I simply stepped inside the superstructure to take a whiff. There was a middle aged couple there who was doing the same thing. He had served on USS Chicago, a cruiser, and we agreed all Navy ships smell alike.

There were years after we were married that I would get up early either in the summer while teaching or while camping that I savored the smell of brewed coffee along with the moist mid-west mornings. I cannot say there was a favorite place during those years in Fennville. We were busy raising our family. I worked year round after teaching and did not have lots of time to savor the morning except as I drove to work. But I remembered the feeling of those days nonetheless.

Now, I get up early by choice. We pretty much do what we want, when we want, so getting up early is what I do. It is hard to beat what the morning has to offer. Our walks are special as is our custom of getting our first cup of coffee with friends at our neighborhood coffee shop. The first thirty minutes of these summer mornings I spend in the garden supplies a flood of memories from the past. It is a sense of well being and realizing that life is good.

No comments: