HEAD ABOVE WATER

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THE MAGIC HOUR

By Tim Clark

Photographers call the hour right after sunrise and right before sunset the magic hour.  I don’t know about that, but, dawn is my time. I wake before anybody else and spend some time alone. Just me, a cup of coffee and some scattered thoughts. Even my demons are more manageable, almost pleasant. Morning has some powerful magic.

At some point, I don’t know when, I metamorphosed from what I considered a night owl into a morning person. It might have been the Pavlovian training administered by our alarm clock. Alarm clocks are a creeping, invasive species of behavior modifying electronic creatures. They are, I’m convinced, the vanguard of the machine revolution. After so many days of being jarred from sleep at 4:45am by the “soothing sounds of modern jazz” or whatever station the stupid thing is dialed into I am powerless to resist.

Of course, stations change format so often I don’t know what will wake me tomorrow. And I am too afraid to change it. If I screw around with the wrong dial I might never get it working right again. It might start going off at 2:00 in the morning. So, I suffer through painful seconds of the jovial conversations of morning DJs, or music I would never choose on my own, because the alarm clock is in control. You see, I am already at their mercy.

Naturally, I have developed an unhealthy mental tic and I climb out of bed, even on the weekend, when I could sleep in. My only defense is to pretend it was my choice and I am enjoying it.

I do some of my best writing in the morning. It might be the euphoria of the first cup of coffee. Maybe it is the shadowy remnants of dreams slipping away. Or maybe it isn’t my best writing at all; maybe it isn’t any better. It just seems good because I’m not quite awake yet. I’ve learned not to think about those things too much.

If the weather is right I will take my coffee, my iPad and my thoughts out to the patio. Where I can hear birds screaming—it is almost like political discourse there is so much anger. Squirrels crashing, crunching, smashing—who knew squirrels could be so raucous? They could drive trucks and not make any more noise. And, of course, the buzzing insects flying sorties inches from my face, tight formations, precision runs, loud enough to produce tiny waves in my coffee. I’m not really sure nature is for me, at least until I have a few cups of coffee. Still, the morning air helps restore something. Something life has taken away.

One of the things, maybe a guilty pleasure, maybe an adolescent indulgence, I like to do in the morning is check Facebook. I know, “Facebook is for sheeple.” I have heard it all. But, there are so many things I would never see. Family from far away, friends, many of whom I have never met, sharing glimpses of their life. Snapshots of places far and wide, right there on my tablet. Good tidings from somebody else’s universe. Of course, there is a dark side, boiling, seething anger, narrow minded hatred of anything different.  But, in the mellow light of a new day somethings are just easier to live with.

Dawn is special. The birth of a new day. There is a promise, implied, never spoken, that the day is going to be a good day. It is hard to not to believe things will go well when you watch the sun come up over the trees. Light bouncing off the dew on the grass and the flowers. The air is cool and heavy with possibility. No day that starts with a visit from a hummingbird can be too bad.

Morning is a good time to get away from it all. There is nobody around, the solitude of loneliness. But, the real problem is I’m always there, and sooner or later I will get on my nerves. After three or four cups I can really get annoyed at me. My smug self-confidence. My condescending attitude. Man, that guy really honks me off, so arrogant, such an ego.

I won’t be able to decide whether I want French Roast or Columbian coffee next and I will have to make a cup of both. Things will escalate. It won’t take long before I am bickering with myself. Snide little comments about my hair, (what’s wrong with my hair?) or my general state of fitness (get me some cookies, fat boy). Rude stuff, I can be such a jerk. Then it will happen, a cup will hit the floor, breaking into pieces.

I hope you never have to feel the icy gaze of the woman you love, roused from her sleep, glaring down at you picking up the jagged shards of a “Peace Love and Music” coffee mug while the knees of your sweatpants soak up 4 ounces of hot coffee.

“What the hell happened?” She will demand.

“We just had a little accident, nothing for you to worry about.” I will reply.

“We?” She will ask.

“Sit down, relax, let us… let me get you something to drink.”

“Wow, I didn’t expect that kind of attitude this early.” I will say to myself.

“I know. I don’t like it when she talks to us that way.” I will answer. And a new day is born.

Tim Clark lives in Columbus, OH. He is an employee, a husband, a  father and a blogger. You can see his blog here, Life Explained. He writes occasionally and with pride for Street Speech, a local homeless advocacy newspaper. He is contributor for The Ugly Writers and the Good Men Project. He is particularly vain about his monthly column on The Wild Word. He is working on a novel.

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