Day 573, January 26, 2022

Pre-Dawn

I wake before sunrise, and on a moonlit morning, the snow glows like a dying cathode ray television, illuminating the yard like a beer sodden living room. The chickens are tucked away, and it is too cold besides, so they don’t cluck or venture out until I bring out the feed, scratch, and kitchen scraps. But this early, all is quiet. I can see surprisingly deep into the leafless wood and I steel myself in the thick winter robe which covers my nakedness with weight and suppresses the shivering as I step into the shearling slippers. I can see a rectangle of sky through the skylight if the snow has melted off and there are stars, and this morning, the perfect crescent. My mind relishes the morning even as my body yearns for the warmth of the bed and the array of pillows, my surrogate harem. I knew someone who had radiant floors in her bathroom. The tile was so pleasing, I wanted to lie there and press my cheek into the grout by the base of the toilet. I had no such foresight and the marble tile in my bathroom is sharp as the air that makes my nose run and eyes water. When I forget to wear my slippers to the bedroom it is a terrible thing the next morning. 

The cold morning routine is measured and serene. There is no rushing so early. I read the news as I use the toilet, let the shower grow warm, and sometimes, when I’m feeling extravagant, turn it up extra hot. I clean the bathroom in small measures, one day the shower stall with a sponge and dish soap before I wash myself. I pull the hair out of the drain with a damp tissue, then use the tissue to clean up the cat hair collecting at the foot of the pedestal sink. Another morning I might wipe the sink clean. I need to remember to bring up glass cleaner for the mirror. In this way, the bathroom is never clean, but it is forever in stages of being less dirty. And then, I brush my teeth and shave. I save the New York Times for when I start brushing my teeth, the way I used to save my English homework for last because I knew I would enjoy it the most. Often a story will follow me out of the bathroom and sit on top of the dresser as I pick out my underwear and socks in the dim light. And on cold days, like today, the long underwear and lined pants. Then the dress shirt and tie, a sweater. I don’t wear ties during vacations, but the students are back, so I return to the tie, not that I think anyone notices, but sometimes patterns become traditions, and traditions help measure the passing of time. I knew the chicken water would be frozen, and there was some trout skin the in compost bin, so I would need to deal with that. So no loud smoothie making this morning, a simple cereal breakfast and coffee. I don my coat to feed the chickens and wear the chicken feeding hat my daughter made me, then come back in and strip off the muck boots and jacket, make my breakfast, and juggle the mental calculations of where I need to be when, how long it will take to walk from where I park, if I need to scrape the ice off the windshield. Only the moon is my witness, and then the chickens. The cat that I touch as I leave the room.



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