I woke up at four A.M., a common time for me to get up, even though there is no need for me to get out of bed so early. I could hear the wind blowing hard against the house. Of course I made coffee, because what is morning without good, freshly-ground coffee? I breathed in the smell and sighed. I inventoried my body parts and realized that so far, my knees didn't ache. That's always a good thing.
My morning routine changed today, thanks to a book I'm reading called "Songwriting Without Boundaries". The author has a fourteen-day challenge of timed word-association exercises, and he wants this done first thing in the morning. I'm trying this because I'm curious to know if I'd be able to get back to writing an occasional song, the way I used to do without even trying.
"Two beings inhabit your body," the author says. "You, who stumbles groggily to the coffeepot to start another day, and the writer in you, who could remain blissfully asleep and unaware for days, months, even years as you go about your business. If your writer is anything like mine, lazy, or even slug, is too kind a word. Always wake up your writer early so you can spend the day together. It's amazing the fun the two of you can have."
So as soon as I had my first cup of coffee poured (with a half-teaspoon of thick, rich Jersey cream stirred in), I set the timer and began the first of three exercises.
That done, I went through the rest of my normal routines, spending some time with the Creator and, of course, checking Facebook. Above the sound of the persistent wind beating against the windows, the calves outside were bawling for their breakfast. Coat, gloves, and chore-boots on, I stepped out into the crisp pre-dawn morning with flashlight in hand. The moon was round and bright, with clouds racing past it like smoke, not dense enough to block it out its light, just enough to let me know it's as windy up there as it is on the ground.
Once the calves saw me coming, their bawling became louder and more urgent. When I walked through their pen to the barn, they came running, knowing that I am somehow responsible for getting them to the source of their milk. It's difficult to get inside the barn without at least one calf accompanying me, but I get it done. The smell of aging cow manure permeates the barn, even though there is none visible, from all the cows over the years who have done their business inside. It's a smell I have actually come to enjoy. The cats are waiting for their breakfast, the orange tomcat yowling with every breath. I open the bin that holds their food and put a cup of Walmart-brand dry cat food in an old, rusty pan that serves as their food dish, to shut him up.
Usually the cow is waiting, but on this day I had to grab the flashlight and go fetch her where she was lying down near the current hay bale the herd is working on. Again, I noticed the beauty of those thin clouds racing past the moon. Why does my nose always run when it's chilly weather? I reached in a pocket for a Kleenex and found there was none. Back at the barn with the cow, I realized I now had only one glove on. Where did I lose the other? Probably when I was digging for a non-existent tissue.
I let Grace, the cow, through a side door and then out though the back door where a starving mob of calves awaited breakfast and attached themselves to teats instantly.
I came to the house to give them fifteen minutes with the cow, then went back outside to separate them. This was very difficult at the beginning of this three-calves-on-one-cow enterprise, but they are learning that by the time I return, the milk is gone anyhow; so they have quit trying to follow their savior as she exits.
And this, my friends, is what happens when my inner writer wakes up and goes out to do chores with me. I took a thing I could have easily summed up in a paragraph or two and turned it into a ridiculous essay. I'll try to put my inner writer back to sleep before I blog, from now on.