The cat wakes me at six in the morning. She wants to go outside before the sun rises. I don’t want to roll out of bed yet. Even the hen is still roosting beside the back door. So I try to coax Nippy with coos and a head massage. She relents and snuggles beside me like a nursing baby with claws. Just as I fall back to sleep, she wakes me again and I get up because it’s time to feed the horses and walk the dog.
When I crack open the door, my chicken, Bawk-Bawk, hops off her perch and waddles into the kitchen to share breakfast with the cat. Together they run outside to play. In my pajamas, I head to the stalls to feed the two fillies. Both snort and stomp as I scoop sweet-smelling oats. The two-year-old bangs the revolving feeder until it’s full and I swing it to her side. I’ve nicknamed her “Miss Piggy.”
After the horses are fed, I leash the dog and we trot to the backside of the farm. She’d heel if I’d yank her collar and bark, “Heel!” But I’ve never been strict and prefer to let her roam and sniff and dash through the long, dewy grass. When she stops to snap at a bug, I listen to roosters crowing on the Hamiltons’ farm across a road that is only quiet early Sunday mornings.
On the way back to the house, I take my new dog to visit the fillies. She is calm around them now, though she wasn’t at first. Sheeka is blind—born with no eyes. When she first sensed the enormous equines, she bolted. Now she rubs noses with them. I’ve introduced her to the critters and taught her the layout of the land. She’s taught me about loyalty and to show enthusiasm for the simplest kindness.
I put my new teacher in her kennel and leave feeling guilty. My yard is fenced, but I have to be extra careful she doesn’t get lost. Last month, my middle son, Zack, found her ambling down a road, named her, took her to a vet, and tried to find her owner. When no guardian appeared, he brought her to me. Now I take numerous long walks every day.
Back at the house, I brew tea and spread whipped cream cheese on toast. As I enjoy breakfast, I feel an urge to search the internet, read emails, and visit favorite blogs. But I defy the pull of resistance and open a Word document to describe this perfect morning. Temperatures in the seventies, no rain, no contractors knocking on my door to ask about paint colors or hardware.
My husband and I are building a second small house on the farm. We are also building fences and paddocks and repairing barns, so it’s been busy and noisy seven days a week since last winter’s end. Finding time to write has been hard. Another reason this is a perfect morning—it’s quiet and I’m writing for the first time in weeks.
The phone rings, and it’s my friend Jimmy Davis. He wants to know if he can come over to fly his kite. Sure, I tell him. I don’t think his kite-flying will concern me. Until he says he’ll need help, given he sliced two tendons on his left thumb. And, by the way, it’s a huge kite, a sunfish or something—the tail is seventy-five-feet long. I try to explain I really need to write today. But my pal’s hand is in a cast, and my dog’s lessons of loyalty and kindness return to bite me. So I shed my pajamas and dress to go fly a kite.