On rising early

I heard once, perhaps in a sermon in the church where I grew up, that the poet Mary Oliver always rose early, almost ridiculously early, in order to dedicate the first two hours of her day to her writing.

I like the idea of making the first hours of the day my own, when the rest of them are so often occupied by work and school, followed by the evening rush of dinner, conversation, and tidying-up. And these spring dawns are so luxuriously long; I feel as if I have hours of daylight before I have to even think about going to the office.

In the last few weeks, as the semester draws to an end and work becomes more unbearable than usual, I have taken Oliver's advice and began waking up early, for myself, to go outside and see the city and the river and all of the green trees and flowering bushes that I waited all winter for. That way, when I go into work at 8:00am, I know that I've already had my day, the day that is full of whimsical beauty and unexpected encounters, like the coyote or lynx or whatever large, bounding animal it was that crossed my path when I was riding my bike down River Road two mornings ago. It leaped up from the river, not twenty feet in front of me, and scurried up into the wooded hillside. I saw a groundhog that morning, too, and can also report that the wild phlox and white dogwoods are in bloom on the Jersey side of the Hudson.

All of this becomes mine, in the slanted light of early morning, and I am grateful.

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