My Favorite Time of Day

I get up early in Southern Arizona. I look at the dark sky filled with stars so close and bright you feel you could reach out and touch them. I put the dogs out, love them up and feed them. I do some odds and ends and keep an eye on the mountains about 15 miles to the east of us—the Santa Ritas.

The sun comes over the mountain—a different sunrise every day.

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I wait for the cool air to warm a bit and then Casey, my American Eskimo, and I go out and sit on the patio enclosed by a stone wall. Casey follows me wherever I go and he moves routinely throughout the morning to find the shade as the sun rises and moves.

I sit in my chair and face the sunrise. The air is cool and my skin feels the sun warming the sky around me. I’ve turned the fountain on, and I listen to the water gurgle and flow. The birds come alive and visit the feeders to eat and the fountain to drink. Their songs fill the air: the laments of the mourning dove; the loud call of the quail; the melodies of the Cardinal; the loud, staccato assertion of a road runner (who does not go beep-beep) and the buzzes and whistle of the world’s smallest bird—the hummingbird.

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In the complex, diverse and interconnected natural world that teaches us about sustainability, I feel peaceful.

After a while, I do my workout with stretching, dumbbells and resistance tubes. My breathing grows deeper and faster and sweat goes down my forehead. My efforts feel good in the fresh air. Some days I do a meditation guided from my iPhone. I focus my awareness on the in and out of my breathing. Thoughts and feelings distract me. Sometimes I sneak a brief look at the birds I hear near me. I bring my focus back to the slow in and out of my breath. Other days I read for a while.

Melanie joins me with her coffee and iPad. We chat and make plans for the day. If food sits on the table, Maddy, our black lab, is sure to be near us. She begs with great focus and intensity. Casey lies in the shade along the patio wall and watches the birds come and go.

We stir to begin our day. We can’t sit still for long: We walk, hike, photograph, take day trips and sit in the pool and float.

Nothing we do feels as good as welcoming the sun and a new day’s fresh air.

5 thoughts on “My Favorite Time of Day

  1. Oh, Tom,
    The poetry and stunning photography of your Southern Arizona morning brings back a flood of memories of my long-ago teenage days in an isolated area of the Mojave Desert. For me, that early freshness was enhanced by walking barefoot in the cold sand, feeling the sharp goat-head-weed stickers toughening up my feet, watching the sunrise pour light on the aliveness of the plants and animals (as you have so beautifully described — a close relation of the Sonoran Desert where you were, and 65 years later).
    I think I recognize an ocotillo plant (a favorite of mine, and the subject of a sketch by my beloved father) in the brilliant cardinal photo.
    Thank you for sharing your delightful process and waking up my memory, to be able to join you in that still, fresh, alive space of sensation-al timelessness…
    In loving spirit, Eleanor

  2. This post is sheer poetry, Tom. I can’t imagine a more beautiful invocation to be present and to make the most of the moment. Thank you for this.

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