Birds | gardening | Personal Growth | Philosophy | seasons | Walking

An Infinite Expectation of the Dawn

In the dimmest of early morning light I watched a deer slowly work its way through the fallen branches, stones and muck out beyond the fence. White tail flickered and drew attention, just as a squirrel’s tail does, and I wondered at the similarities of these mammals who coexist in these woods. Each are seeking the same food – an abundance of acorns that relentlessly fell last fall. Each are prey for carnivores. The tail draws attention, but you could also say it distracts a carnivore long enough that perhaps the prey might get away. The deer feels my presence just as I felt hers. We coexist in these woods too, and I silently nod and leave her to her travels.

“The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour.  Then there is least somnolence in us; and for an hour, at least, some part of us awakes which slumbers the rest of the day and night…. To be awake is to be alive.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

How quickly the morning progresses now. The birds erupt early, filling the woods with their chorus of song. New voices appear frequently now as the migration continues in earnest. At least the birds can travel. Were this a normal time I might be traveling now too. But then I wouldn’t be here rapt in the audience listening to the symphony. There’s a silver lining in everything, should we look for it.

“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep.  I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

In a few weeks the trees will start blooming in earnest while the perennials slowly climb from the cold earth to the sky. I welcome the time of year, even as I dread the pollen that accompanies it. Small price to pay for flowers and fresh herbs growing in the garden and the return of the bees and hummingbirds. I think about these things as I walk in the cold early spring garden. I’ll be barefoot out here then without the creeping cold that prods me back inside. Warm days and cold nights. Sap weather. I glance at the maple trees and down at the red buds they’ve shed on the yard. I ought to charge them a toll of syrup for their messy habit, but I realize the folly of me boiling sap for a few ounces of maple syrup. No, the trees remain untapped.

I remain transfixed by the world around me, and the writing helps draw it out of me like cold sap boiled to something sweet and digestible. Well, you’ll be the judge of that. But I’m the better for the process, and for these journeys out into the awakening hour. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor… these words echo in my mind, as they have for years. And maybe my time out here in the earliest moments of the day spark something deeper inside me than I previously realized.

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