Morning Rituals

Into the triple digit days, but it’s early enough to bask in the first rays of the sun as it rises over the treetops. Once it’s past that point, it’s back indoors where we’ve been holed up for much too long. I’ve become obligated to take care of a box turtle’s needs, as it hasn’t rained in over a week and the seeds fallen below the feeder have quit sprouting. The turtle is a daily visitor now, and I watched this morning as it searched out the last few spears of green. It went away hungry, and with a burden of guilt on my conscience I poured about a pound of millet and safflower on the gravel and sprayed it down with the hose. In this heat it should sprout in thirty seconds flat.

I like to start the morning at the table on the deck where all my essentials can spread out: binoculars, sketchbook, pencil, sharpener, eraser, powerbook, coffee pot, cup, creamer (no sugar, thank you), to-do list for whatever occurs to me that needs doing today, and Cody’s ball-launcher. It’s a plastic handle with a cup at the end and with a flick of the wrist you can hurl the ball so darn far that your dog will have to search for it in the tall grass near the barn, leaving you in peace for a good five minutes. Sometimes he’ll come back with a different ball, since his success rate is modest. When he can’t find a ball (unlikely since there’s now about a zillion of them out there), he’ll come back and stand by the box on the deck with the brand new tennis balls hidden inside. The lid is closed, but he’s a golden retreiver, and he has a good nose.

To make the morning sweet, a Mississippi Kite came gliding by like a silver shadow, sweeping low against the dark oak leaves and flashing up into the sunlight, where it circled once and settled on its favorite bare branch. It has its own morning rituals, too, all involving tidying powder-gray feathers, surveying domain and greeting others of its family group, who will join it for a companionable Kite Klatch before going off to find breakfast in the treetop larder.

There’s a lot of comfort and clarity in regular touchstones. We both have to get things in order before we can work, that kite and I.

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