I’ve grown to love the morning. Maybe it’s because I stay up all night, so the sunrise to me is sort of like everyone else’s sunset (yeah, still haven’t changed that sleep schedule). Or maybe it’s because it’s the one part of my day where everything still feels fresh. The dew on the grass has just settled there, and because it’s spring in Tennessee, there’s this coolness like a light breeze that isn’t even really a breeze, and it just kind of keeps everything calm, despite the squirrels just waking or the little mockingbirds hopping about.

I know this because around 5:30 each morning, I take Abner out to walk around, and I’m pretty sure we walk every inch of my front yard. It isn’t a large front yard. But I’ve grown particularly fond of it. Whereas most suburban yards are well-trimmed with green, lush grass, ours is more like a mossy forest. Parts of it are even barren with red clay dirt exposed leading up to a tall oak I used to swing on as a kid. I remember Dad trying really hard to get grass to grow there, but I’m kind of glad the seeds never took root. It makes our yard stand out, and I guess if you’re a yard specialist, or whatever they call people who take care of lawns (I should know this), you’d probably scoff at our pathetic excuse for a well-trimmed yard.

But then I watch all these people mowing their yard compulsively (and to be fair, we do too), and it just seems so odd to me that we’re socialized to believe we need to give our grass the same cut we give our heads. I mean, I get it – I really do (I think) – but of all the things we’re socialized to do, it’s gotta be one of the more bizarre ones when you really sit down and think about it. Why isn’t a yard that’s let nature takes its course considered more natural? An old friend of mine talks a little more about that in his blog and says it a little better than I can.

So, I think the small arboretum in our front yard gets us off the hook a little bit, as though the number of trees in your yard makes the barren earth they expose more acceptable. Which also makes no sense, but luckily, it makes me feel like, instead of walking around in a suburban lawn, I’m still “in the wilderness.” In fact, it gives me little flashes at times of Morocco, of the orchard, of hikes I took breathing the fresh morning air before the sun had begun its daily damage of scorching everything it touched.

Sometimes those flashes are like visions of sorts. It’ll be like I’m walking around, and I know I’m in Tennessee but some part of me is suddenly elsewhere at the same time, and I just soak it in and take myself there. There’s this recurring image that plays in my head of me walking the trail to my house or me walking next to the ancient farming aqueducts in the orchard, and I just take in a breath, and as I inhale, there I am, and by the time I exhale, I’m back in my yard with Abner.

I wish I could bottle up the mornings, though. They are the only time of day I feel bogged down by nothing. They’re a little glimmer of hope, and I think wherever I end up next as I take these liminal steps, it will be a place with a morning that seems to last all day.

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