I am a big believer in doing the best we can to live in the present. Making space to sit quietly and observe life’s intricacies as they unfold in the moment.
Until I wake up to snow in mid April...then I am all for closing my eyes and daydreaming myself into another time.
The alarm ding-a-linged at 4:30 am; although I didn’t need it to wake. I’d hardly slept at all, waiting to jump out of bed like it was Christmas morning. THIS was my favorite time of day, anticipating the adventure to come. I slipped into clothes I’d laid out the night before, excitement buzzing through my veins. I wrangled my hair into sloppy braids and put a hat on to keep them contained. I choked down some oatmeal; I hate eating so early but I knew I needed something to get me going. I grabbed my pack that I had loaded the night before, laced up my shoes and drove off into the dark.
My breath was the loudest sound on the trail at such an early hour. It always takes me about a mile to settle into my breathing, but I didn’t mind--it gave me a rhythm to focus on. Early morning silence makes my brain wander off and wonder what is out there listening when I’m the first thing moving through the trees. My light shines ahead, eyes blink back at me...I try not to think about who’s eyes they might be. I start to hear the first few calls of early birds and the low hum of insects that flipped on like a switch, warming up their voices for the day. I’ll only need my light for a little bit longer; the day is starting to build in the sky.
The trail starts to steepen, just as I’d caught up with my breath. My muscles are warm now, and a thin layer of sweat starts to form--even before the sun reaches down. I stop, muscles pulsing, and tuck my jacket and headlamp into my pack. I continue up.
THIS. This was the best part. The feeling of morning air on my bare legs and shoulders. Propelling myself over the dirt as the sun worked her way up; both of us racing to the top of the world, building heat as we go. I catch a cobweb on my face and violently brush the invisible threads out of my eyes, off my lips. My senses heightened from starting in the dark, I notice the alternating pockets of cold to warm to cold air as I move through the trees.
The smell of the mountain in the mornings is something I dream about all winter. Wildflowers soaking in their morning sips of dew, warm pine and soft earth. It’s so overwhelming when I’m moving through the thickness of it, filling my brain with every memory of summer I’ve ever had. Yet it’s the only thing I can’t imagine when I’m sitting in the chill of spring. I can conjure up the sights and sounds of summer on the mountain, I can only crave the wildflower perfume when it’s buried in snow.
The sun is almost up. I’m still in the trees, but I see the light ahead, waiting to baptize me into the day. The mountain is AWAKE. A roar of song birds and insect chatter rushes around me. My breath starts to pick up again as I feel my soul pulling me faster, closer, in a hurry to get to the top.
My pot of gold.
I break through the trees and part the curtain of leftover night into the first rays of morning. THIS. This is why I wake so early. To taste those first golden drops as though they were made just for me; body waking with the earth. THIS. Spotlight on me, earth is my stage, the trees as my witness cheer me on. My mouth is dry, tempted to catch the salty beads of sweat as they dripdrop from my brow. My heart is thumping loudly in my ears, my breath steady and strong. Upwards, I continue to climb.
My legs burn, beg to slow. My lungs fill to capacity, a whoosh of air out so they can fill deeply again. I thank them. A few more steps, my feet scramble, hands reaching for the earth to steady me as I
to the top.
The wind whips around me from every direction. My hair is untamed, my heart steadies, my soul is where it should be.
I sit on the summit, on top of the world to start my day. I see, EVERYTHING. The tangible, the abstract. Where the light meets the dark and the two melt together. What is real, what needs to change. I see it. Feel it.
I close my eyes, face in the sun, and let the wind whisper her truths in my ear.
“Wake up” she says”.
I fight it.
“Wake up, I’ll save you a seat when the time is right”.
I open my eyes. Snow in mid April. I look up at the mountain, I’ll be there as soon as I can.