Last Friday In April

bench

© Jeff Horner

Up, just at dawn, birds going nuts since it was still dark but I’m only just climbing up to awareness now, dim light. The cats look back at me as if to say “yeah, we know, this happens every morning.” One of those Fridays where there is so much to get done by the end that you almost wish it were still Thursday, still time. For now, though, just a few hours to sit on the porch and come alive with coffee, watch the light change, meditate, think.

The air inside is sweet and cool, the night spent with windows all open to the woods and its secrets. Outside now the air is even sweeter, but warming already, late April in the South. An old habit not fully dead yet, I check the weather back North and see that furnaces would be running, blankets piled, frost accumulating, and I grin an adolescent grin.

Living in the moment gets easier as you get older, or so I’m finding. I should shake a leg, get a move on, get an early start on a day that will beg way too much from me, but that won’t do, not for me, not now. Better to sit for a bit and let the engines come to full on their own, one cat on my feet now, the other on the first cat’s feet, one astride the other. The birds have changed shifts, some songs gone, new ones starting up, my brain unable to keep from finding words in their repetition: “Tweester tweester tweester, whatsyername whatsyername whatsyername. Seeya. Seeya.”

It’s difficult, sometimes, not to keep the phone nearby, check the mail, check the ‘Book, check them again, just in case. Difficult but not impossible, like anything. Instead of chicanery, vanity, lunacy and sex, I’m back in the old world of real life lost in thought, steeped in experience, my chin on my hand, the air on my face, the birds with their words, the smells in the air. Such a beautiful riot of smells. If I were blind and deaf my head would be accosted by the symphony and poetry of scent.

“You smell a lot,” a friend said to me a long time ago. “Well, you’re ugly a lot,” I said back, jolly good laugh all ’round. But she was right. Don’t we all? Isn’t smell the most transportive of all the senses? I consider this, and breath slowly and deep. The smell of the house warming in the sun: Playing in my grandparents’ attic in Richmond as kids, kiln-level heat, dust, aging lumber. The smell of endless blossoms still in the air: Any springtime in my life, each uniquely and all at once, together. The smell of the paper of the book in my hand: Reading, learning to read. Arts & crafts in elementary school. Libraries. Used book stores. Travel to distant places, the smell of old books and the blue of the sky the only familiar sensations on the other side of the planet.

Someone starts and revs up a leaf blower across the woods. Of course if it could be done as easily as pressing a button I would kill them instantly, but it’s not, and I can’t, so I don’t. The sun has gone from under-lighting the leaves to shining directly on the porch and warming up fast. The cats stretch and lean into it, but I drain my cup and sit forward to rise. Time now to switch into work mode, head upstairs to the office and fire up the machines. There will be phone calls in a moment, meetings later on. Emails to tender, bills to send and to pay. It’s a great way to work, but it’s work nonetheless.

If it were up to me, I’d start all my days this way. And since it is, I will.

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