Morning Comes Early

The day starts one way and ends another. As it winds down we sit in the hot tub talking about important things like clouds and the garden and some other less important things too. I watch the daisies dance in the breeze.

It’s getting dark by the time we come in the house and I’m startled by the realization. We’re inching farther away from one solstice and toward another. Time’s passing. There’s no point in trying to deny it. And there’s that thing about seasons I’ve been pondering again.

I go upstairs and switch on the light on my bedside table, turn back the duvet, and climb into bed to read. Maya stands at the bedroom door, conflicted. Gerry hasn’t come upstairs yet—the alpha in our little pack is still up—she lays down in the doorway to wait.

Night falls, and we three rest and morning comes early. Mom used to tell me that when she was putting me to bed. She was right. I wake before dawn, delighted at the cloudless sky outside the window and the hummingbird at the feeder. I read for a while as the other two sleep.

Gerry gets up and takes Maya outside for her morning ablutions. He delivers soy milky frothy coffee before heading off to men’s meeting. I stand at the bedroom window watching in wonder as the first rays of sunlight dance with the daisies down below.

I settle in to read, contemplate some, and pray. One day ends, another begins. And so it goes.

Coding

It was classic. Look to the left, look to the right, at the end of this program only one of you will be here. The instructor was right. Of those who sat in the classroom on that first day only a relative handful walked across the stage to receive a diploma two years later. I was thrilled—and somewhat exhausted—to be one of them.

It had been a hard slog, becoming a computer programmer (We don’t call them that anymore. They’re developers now. They speak different languages than we did, but the principles are the same.). Our instructors pushed us because life in the real world in that profession would be hard, busy, and stressful. Often it was, and sometimes it wasn’t, and I loved almost every minute of it.

Some of the most important principles we learned were those of if-then-else and perform-varying-from-by-until. I haven’t written a computer program in a very long time (though I had a blast dabbling with code in the bowels of this blog a few days ago) but the wisdom of the principles remain ingrained.

If-then-else is the first basic principle we master in learning how to code. It’s what we teach our children as soon as they are teachable. If we don’t grasp early that our choices have consequences, we’re destined for trouble. Without smooth logic and closed loops (and no lazy fail-safes randomly placed) our programs and parts of our life are bound to crash. Until we understand that our choices have consequences, we’ll struggle.

Perform-varying-from-by-until is a more advanced concept. It’s COBOL-centric, but the principle is universal. Keep doing x, changing y (beginning at n and increasing in increments of m) until you get to z. Simple. And a useful thing to consider on a Monday morning.

Get up, get going, keep putting one foot in front of the other doing the work you’re given to do, making appropriate adjustments for variables, until. Until? Yes. Until another door opens. Until the season changes. Until you’re finished.

It’s the same now as it was then. I’m not writing code anymore, but every day there’s still the better work to do. Looking up, leaning in, listening. Some days I think I was a better computer programmer than I am a pilgrim making my way toward home but I keep moving. Until.

Rich

I’m at the park, kneeling at my tripod and looking through the viewfinder at some flowers I don’t know the name of. What someone somewhere called them in the past doesn’t matter. They’re growing here today and I’m appreciating their unique beauty and attempting to capture a reasonable digital representation. Sometimes I catch glimmers of the Divine when I’m photographing flowers—maybe today will be one of those days.

A woman carrying a smartphone comes into my peripheral vision. She walks softly into this garden space as if she is intruding on my visual meditation. I do my best not to pay attention, but as she moves toward the bench where I left my camera bag my awareness of her heightens. I continue to work, adjusting the position of my tripod and my camera on the ball-mount, metering and focusing on the image I see through the viewfinder. Click. Click, click.

When I’m satisfied, I stand and adjust myself, and pick up my gear. The woman stands a respectful distance away from the bench and my bag looking toward the water. She lifts her phone to take photos of the geese coming up on the shore. I sit on the bench and she joins as I unzip my bag and tuck my camera inside.

She’s tells me she’s there for the goslings.

“Did you see them when they were young?” she asks, her eyes sparkling.

She scrolls through images on her phone and shows me photos of downy yellow babies she captured a few weeks earlier. We talk for a few minutes about the park, and photography, and the geese. There’s something vaguely familiar about her and I wonder if I once knew who she was. Today, she’s just a solitary woman who comes here to watch and record the wonder of a growing family of geese—a woman who hasn’t forgotten the way to wonderland. I think she must be one of the richest people in the city.

Seasons

I wish it was hot, but it’s not. It will be before long, so I do my best to be patient. We go to an appointment, then to the garden and harvest handfuls of fragrant basil for pesto. At home, I work in the kitchen making dog food and that pesto.

After many trips up and down stairs, jewelled raspberry and strawberry jam filled jars are on the canning shelves, flash-frozen berries are in bags, and dollops of pesto are on trays in the freezer.

We talk about trips and vacations and the gift of staying home (I treasure this one most of all). I think about seasons: springtime, summer, harvest, and the long, cold, dark winter; and seasons of life where changes are sometimes subtle, often not. I’m not certain what to make of all that.

I read for a while in the afternoon and update my reading log. A cloud of something hovers. We play chess (I win!) and the afternoon chugs lazily along. I take coffee grounds out to the garden and return with a dish to harvest more tiny chamomile flowers.

We have dinner, watch the news, and I chat with our daughter. Our granddaughter gets on the phone and asks me to quiz her about the periodic table she has decided to study. I’m confused, and she asks to speak to her grandpa instead.

I retire early with a book as the day winds down and I’m still contemplating seasons. My dreams are vivid and silly, and I wake with a start during the night with a gift of time in which to pray.

Now it’s morning and quiet and I’m still pondering changing seasons. It’s cool, but the sun is shining and there are cotton-candy clouds in the blue sky. I’ve got soy milky frothy coffee at hand and all is well. Another day begins.

Important, Not Urgent

Gerry leaves early for a hike and I putter in the kitchen making pasta salad and a big batch of granola. It’s 9:00 when everything’s done, cleaned up, and put away: the time I head down to the woman cave to write.

But the sun is shining and it is warm outside. The deck looks so inviting. I’ll skip writing today.

For the second summer in a row I’m choosing to be intentional about sitting on the deck and reading: the thing I dreamed of having time to do when I was still constrained by demands of my career. The thing I’ve let busyness with other things usurp upon.

So I read. Then I the book down and pray, pick up another and read some more. I jot down some notes and think about threads. I ruminate. What a delicious way to spend a morning.

Gerry arrives home around lunchtime. We eat, play chess, and I suggest a visit to the rose garden to take photos. We end up going to two parks, with a stop for ice cream in between. It turns out to be one of those gentle days when the important things get done.