Just Like I Know
In winter, for reasons of bedtime or primal memories of fire-building, I climb out of sleep early, usually an hour before the light rises from the woods behind our house. Mid-rung and near the top of the climb I make a choice; to let go and grab backward at the fraying edges of a dream or continue upward by swinging my feet out from their cover and towards the colder world above the blankets. This morning, with a pre-ordered load of lumber to pick up, the choice had been arranged by phone several days ago.
In late February, though the edges of light are spreading out, dawn doesn’t arrive until after 7:00. Getting up around 5:30 provides me a chance to write thoughts in a journal. I also make lists like the one I made this morning of things, that in addition to the lumber, needing to be gathered or purchased for the walkway and deck I’ve been rebuilding along the creek. And, in the optimistic moments before dawn, I make notes to myself about hopes and intentions both vague and specific.
In addition to writing, I have, for perhaps twenty years, started mornings by drinking tea from a cup that our old dog Lucky broke with a single swing of his tail four years ago. I had sat down with the cup, a doughnut, a notebook in which to write that day’s plan, and no idea that for the next hour I would be cleaning up a tea stain and looking for the widely scattered pieces of the cup. Painted with a winter scene of a colonial stagecoach and boarding passengers, the china cup is about one hundred years old. Part of a set I’ve imagined, the cup belonged to my wife’s grandparents who, given the evidence of a family ledger we once found, were list-makers and planners themselves.
Once broken, I sentimentally saved the found pieces of the cup in a cardboard box upon which I wrote Cup Pieces / FIND HANDLE! hoping the oddly missing handle – which we couldn’t find at the time – would someday be discovered. About two years ago, the search having been abandoned, the gracefully curved handle mysteriously dropped to the floor from the fibrous lining on the underside of a davenport we were moving.
The cup fragile and now storied, I take particular care when I wash it or drink from it. Having now been reunited with its handle, the cup’s super-glued seams are holding their own against the assaults of boiling water and the pressure of my fingertips as they trace and retrace the cup’s tannin-stained repairs.
The tea gone, a few tea leaves remaining along the brailled sides of the cup this morning, my pen returns to the task of making a list and a plan for the day ahead – just as if I know what the day ahead will bring.