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Best Part of Waking Up

It’s 7:56 and the sun just broke over the ridge. Sade and I have already eaten grits and bacon and are sitting in the kitchen holding or coffee, the steam swirling and rising above the table. The light frost on the window is beginning to melt and the birds are singing. The house is quiet. She got the fire in the stove going while I fed the dogs and cats, now it pops and crackles, warming the whole room.

It’s been cloudy the past few days, we had a thunderstorm on Tuesday, so the sun is welcome relief. It shines right on the house, leaving long, slanting shadows behind the trees, their branches covered in yellows and reds. Dew sparkles on the knockout roses under the window, making the spider webs look like strings of diamonds.

The cats lounge on the porch, eyes half closed, soaking up the first rays of morning. Only the very ends of their tails move. Everything is slow and drowsy, warm and sleepy. Halfway thawed and still dreaming.

I’m wearing the shirt I slept in and the jeans that were on my bedroom floor. My socks are from the same pack but they are different colors. My hair is up in some kind of bun, I rest my elbows on the table and hold my coffee between my hands, a few yawns and a stretch away from being completely awake. Sadie and I rise, I pull a sweater over my head and she wears one of my Uncle’s jackets. We step into boots and take a last sip of coffee.

We stroll down the driveway like we are strolling down the Boardwalk, the cats rise and saunter down to the barn with us, tails still curled and eyes half closed.

The horses are warming up on the hill, Tyla is laying down and the rest stand dozing, legs at rest and ears floppy. Their eyes are almost closed and their lips are slack, but you can see their breath pluming away in long puffs, like a train hours away from going anywhere. The sun warms us, brightening the sky and bringing everything back to life. Sadie and I knock around in the barn for a while, the sound of buckets and grain calling the herd out of their daze. One by one, they walk over in a line, standing at the gate, yawning and blinking.

We feed up and throw flakes of hay over, it still smells as fresh as the day it was cut. The kittens come down from the loft and twine around our legs, stretching and arching their backs, their tiny tails stand straight up. The sun shines down on the earth, on the top of my head and my arms. I hear the chain knock against the gate, the kittens rustling in the hay and the sound of half a dozen jaws munching sweet grain. I hear a horse blow their breath out, and the sound of the bell on Abbie’s collar. It’s all quiet sounds, muffled and distant and beautiful.

I brush Tug’s sides, we linger around the barn after the feeding is done, soaking it all in. Finally, Sadie and I make our way back up the hill, bringing the morning paper up with us. There are birds on the feeder in the front yard, and ladybugs near the door. Casey and I walk past the house to see the chickens, she trots along beside me, smelling whatever passed across her path the night before. I pick up a few eggs and throw some corn to the hens, the roosters standing guard, ready to wake anyone who is still sleeping.

The house is warm when I get back, I take off my muddy boots and hoodie, sitting down to wrap my hands around my coffee again. Casey stretches out in the patch of light shining through the door, we both let out a sigh. Today I will write stories and put laundry away, I’ll clear the breakfast dishes and sit with Nana. I need to go to the feed store and return some library books. But for now, I am content to watch the world wake up slowly. And be happy that I get to see it.

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