A light appreciation
Today began like any other. My wife got up without me being disturbed from my log-like slumber. I woke to her kissing me goodbye, as off to work she went. I got up, scratched my head, then the dog. I then moved to the kitchen and, whilst remaining on auto-pilot, made coffee and ate some leftover fudge stout brownie. I then went through the rest of my usual morning routine of taking the dog for a pee, opening the curtains, checking my email, and drinking the two cups of coffee required to get me out of auto-pilot and kicked into my own version of mental consciousness.
Today was a day for chainsawing, so I had to acquire a vehicle to transport me to the place of the day’s operations. I found a spare one amongst the fleet and took off on Old Yella to pick it up. Back at the ranch I loaded up all the gear into the acquired vehicle. It being a red two-seater convertible thingy with only slightly more storage space than my bike, I had to use the boot as well as the passenger seat to fit everything one needs for a tranquil day at the back-end of a saw. I am thankful however, for being able to use the little red car otherwise I’d be a fair bit poorer as a result of not being able to make it to the base of the offending tree.
After packing up I made sure the dog wasn’t going to chew or sit on anything that would later cause either of us to be reprimanded, and took off up the hill. It’s about a half hour drive from my house to the base of the tree. The first ten minutes or so, depending on traffic, draw of the green light, and which vehicle I happen to be in control of, are on Freeway. I then turn off to go through an area, which is, for most of the year, a straw-colored landscape of hobby farms, apparently uninhabited mansions, solitary rocky outcroppings known as Buttes, and gently rolling hills. I then go through an area of chaparral country, and before I know it, I’m over the big bridge where I watched the peregrines raise their chick this summer, and into the foothills of the Sierras where the fateful tree doth dwell.
I had probably been up for a good hour and a half by the time I got to driving through the Buttes and hobby farms. It was here that I suddenly realized it was an absolutely beautiful day; the sun was just making its way over the elbow of one of the ridges that creep down onto the valley floor from the mountains, there was not a cloud in the sky which was such a deep blue it made me think I was looking through blue-tinted sunnies, and the dew and frost were sparkling on the new shoots of grass (which undoubtedly excited the cows and sheep much more than it did me). I almost had to pull over and take a moment it struck me that hard. The most striking thing however was not the sight itself, not the uncompromised beauty of the landscape, or the sheer brilliance of the morning light, but the fact that it had taken me almost two hours before I realized it.
I had opened the curtains, taken the dog out, rode my bike about two miles, and spent fifteen minutes outside trying to fit everything into the little car. Not once during that time did I look up and think, wow, nice morning. It’s not that I was too busy, or too sleepy-headed to notice, I just think that I’m used to it, I now consider mornings such as this the norm, even humdrum, and I only just realized.
If I still lived in Scotland I would be more inclined to take notice of such a morning as soon as I opened my eyes. All my griping and complaining about the North Valley summer heat has clouded (pardonnez-moi) my ability to appreciate the beauty that is afforded me on such a regular basis.
Leading up to today we’ve had a few consecutive days of rainy weather, which, if the current water-level in the dam has any significance, is no bad thing, and following this morning’s sunshine, I got snowed on twice and hailed on at least once during the course of the day. So it’s not to say that we never get bad weather here, we just don’t get enough to appreciate the good.
I can also say with some confidence that I’m not the only person who goes through a similar morning routine and arrives at their place of work without once appreciating the morning’s light or the beauty of the day. I’m not trying to suggest we all practice a sun-worshipping yoga ritual every morning, although apparently it’s very good for you, better than coffee even, or that any kind of spiritual enlightenment is required, I’m just suggesting that maybe, as humans, we overlook too many of the beautiful or amazing things that surround us everyday, and when faced with such beauty on a regular basis are less likely to appreciate it, whatever it happens to be. In Edinburgh, for example, how many residents, when riding the bus down Princess St, actually look up from their Daily Record to appreciate the castle? Although Sydney is possibly a bad example as there tends to be a bit more self-appreciating there than in most other places, one could say the same of people passing the Opera House on their daily commute across the bridge.
So what am I going to do about my new found appreciation for the winter morning light, and my appreciation of the less fine things, the mundane? Well, probably nothing. You won’t see me on some obscure Sunday Morning television programme, nor will I write a book entitled “The Twelve Steps to Light Appreciation, by Dr. Herman Muntzelshnog (He’s my pseudo)”. I’ll probably just go back up to the base of another tree and get on with the usual daily argument – “Fall this way”, “No”, “Ok”. However, we all become somewhat more aware of the other people in our lives, our surroundings and personal situations at this time of year, and it is my wish that my own light appreciations continue well into the New Year.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to One and to All.