Five-thirty; first light. I lie in bed, listening to the sounds of morning. Outside the window, a barely perceptible breeze rustles the leaves in the maples that tower above the house.
I arise with the sun, quietly dress, pad down the stairs to the kitchen and out the back door. Overhead, against the backdrop of blue, a stream of wispy white cotton-candy cirrus clouds stretches across the sky. Thistle finches fly by, their tiny yellow bodies punctuating the morning blue.
I follow the narrow path around the back of the house and descend the small grassy incline to the front yard. A woodpecker has been busy chipping at the shakes on the side of the house. I notice the tiny pile of wood chips among the ferns near the foundation.
Across the yard on the front knoll, a sea of black-eyed Susans stirs slightly in the morning air. Wild pink roses cling to the white arched trellis that marks the entrance to the front walk.
I retreat to the back yard and stand by the fence. Lithe stalks of hosta, heavy with pale purple flowers, bend toward the morning sunlight.
A few more steps bring me to the pond, where I pause to look into its depths to find the leafy branches of the maple tree silhouetted against the sky. The words of Thoreau come to mind: “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”
Across the fence stands our neighbor’s garden: rows of tall tomato plants staked with old hockey sticks, a silent testimony to Yankee thrift and prudence: “Use it up, wear it out; make it do, or do without.”
Chickadees call from an adjacent apple tree as they flit among the branches searching for a breakfast of insects. A catbird lights on the roof of the garage, runs along the peak and disappears down the other side. Over by the stone wall a thistle finch, perched on a slender sprig, bobs up and down like a tiny gymnast practicing his morning trampoline routine.
The sun climbs higher, scattering light across the expanse of the garden. A potted stand of red impatience suddenly turns a brilliant crimson. Overhead, maple leaves rustle; the breeze has come up again.
Here I am reminded of Scott Russell Sanders’ words: “Heaven is not so much a place as an experience.”