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The windchill is 15. I have just opened up my house.

One of my wonderful writing mates, Shirah, now emails from Jerusalem. Recently she mentioned the custom of the daily airing. No matter how cold or wet the morning, windows fly open in her neighborhood and the day starts with new air in the house. Really! I was of the stuffier mind that we waited until that first mild spring day to air out.

Now every morning I turn down the heat and open my house. Cold air can’t wait to get inside and warm up, so in it rushes. In about five minutes, I feel a difference, not in mere chill but in some subtle clarity.

Long ago, my co-worker Nina, a recent immigrant from Moscow, spoke in her satiny Russian accent of winter mornings there. When she breathed in the snap of that cold, she said, she “knew she was alive.”

Knowing I am alive. Clarity. Airing out. My new morning ritual has meaning.

This morning we have freezing fog. The screens around the porch are gauzy with it. It sticks to everything, whitening the world into something lighter, more bearable. To look out and wonder at such air is nothing new. To invite it in is.

I do not want to make this into some shmaltzy metaphor. I just want to state that this is happening when I must face the changes of age and determine how to live with them. Will I be guided by what others think or will I have an original plan for me? Will I have Shirah’s and Nina’s courage for newness? What is in this airing out? Right now I have no idea.


In praise of the antemeridian

Yes, I’m a morning person. I’m usually eating breakfast around 4:00. Do you gasp in alarm? Get in line. Whenever I’ve revealed my preference for dawn, others seem unsure of my stability. Their response has been consistent: you need help. With touching concern, they offer suggestions on how I can change.

Why is that? I have never felt compelled to change a night person into a morning person. I don’t care that they aren’t up early so why do they care that I am?

The seeds of morningphilia were sown long ago in my Irish Catholic Republican family where Work Ethic meant carpe diem and the earlier the better. Saturday mornings were piano lessons. Sundays (and holydays) the only Masses that counted were the early ones. Thou shalt not sleep in.

But, work ethic aside, I love morning for itself. I hear the first bird stretch and chirp, and chirp turn to chorus. I see my neighborhood emerge from monochromatic blur into silhouettes sharp against the budding day. Sometimes I see one low star in benediction over the dawn. In winter I see snowlight. If it rains, I hear the earliest tires splash through the street and watch first light rainbowed in drops on the window.

When I was young and working, I wrote early-morning letters. Yellow legal pads were my breakfast staple. Now I’m old and not working and I have email. The yellow coffee-splotched letters had more personality, but email has wings.

I do not have wings. I have lead feet, molasses in my veins. I’m a plodder, slow, deliberate, uncertain. Early mornings give me the long on-ramp I need to merge into the day’s traffic.

I love mornings; therefore, I A.M.