I will wake up tomorrow morning, earlier than I want, the sky still dark. Retirement from the office routine means later mornings for many, but not me. The kettle will boil and coffee will be made. I’ll settle into my easy chair in the living room after I’ve lit the old kerosene lamp I have on the mantle. I don’t use the light from it, but it gives me a good feeling—a memory from the past.
I’ll relax then and let my mind float freely for a few minutes before I open my latest book and carry on from where I left off yesterday morning. The fresh hot coffee by my side fills the air with its aroma. As I drink I relax rather than perk up. I don’t know why this happens. If I have a fussy sleep tonight, I might fall back to sleep in my chair when the coffee is finished.
It will be dark when I first sit down, but then the sky will start to glow pink and the mountains I can see out the window will begin to reflect that same colour off the snow covered peaks. This causes me to put down my book for a few moments and just watch the progress of the morning light. It’s always the same, but I never tire of it. My photographic sense wants me to quickly dress and get out to capture the colour and the light, but I never listen to that. The furnace came on when I got up, the air in the house is warm and I’m still in my pyjamas. I will sit and read for an hour more instead.
I will probably read until I finish a chapter, then put down my book, blow out the kerosene lamp and make my way to the kitchen for something to eat. On these early mornings Leslie is not up, so I don’t cook bacon. I take out some bread from the freezer and put a slice in the toaster. The smell of the toast permeates the air and when the toast pops up I spread it with peanut butter and seville orange marmalade. That always wakes up my mouth.
When I finish, the sun will be beaming down the front street and the cool of the evening will disappear into the warming air. Dressed to suit the weather, with my comfortable walking boots on, I head out.
I will want to get in a long walk, but not take too much time. An hour will be good. I think I‘ll make my destination the Ranche House where I will turn around, walk up to the cowboy statue then come back down the Big Hill Creek to the river where I will turn west, walk under the highway bridge, up the hill, by Mitford Park and home. It is almost the same route every time, but I never seem to tire of it.
I’ll start my walk through West Valley to the culvert under the highway. It will be quiet, but the roads will be busy with school buses and parents driving their children to the school at the end of our street. After I emerge from the culvert on the other side of the highway I will walk along the path behind the back yards where the local dogs will rush me from a perch on their porches and scold me with their bark until I’m out of sight. Some brain dead species will continue to bark even after I’ve passed their property. The yard fences keep me safe, but the barking will ruin the ambiance of the morning—temporarily.
I will turn, following the path under the railway and the highway, then head into The Ranche park itself. It will be quiet and vacant of people except for maybe a few joggers. With my camera by my side I will watch for images in the land or created by the light on the land. I don’t often see anything new, but if I do I want to be able to capture the image at that moment. So often I’ve seen something and come back an hour later with my camera only to find the changing light has erased the image I saw. Now, I never walk without it.
I’ll walk alongside the creek, heading south, and probably will encounter other walkers out for their morning exercise. These will be mostly retired folk, a few younger than me, but most my age or older. Most will smile and say good morning. Some will stop and chat if I initiate a conversation, while others will walk by without any recognition that I exist. I will brand these people as newcomers, big city people. Groomed by living too long in the big city perhaps they feel intimidated by talking with a stranger, especially if the newcomers are women. I understand how this happens, but it saddens me when friendly greetings can’t take place.
Alongside the creek is a peaceful place to be. The clear, cold water sometime is rushing to the river and sometimes running idle, wandering around the valley bottom.
If I feel like it, I may take extra time to walk out of the creek valley and go to the coffeehouse in the shopping centre. If I do, I’ll have a rich latte and think about what I might accomplish tomorrow. I may even see someone I know and settle in for a chat.
Regardless, I’ll be sweaty by this point and will finally head west, onto the paved path that will take me past Mitford Park and home. The Mitford Ponds will have ducks or geese on them and I will look for the new, young of the year. The parents will lead their offspring into the water and off to the centre of the lake, away from the perceived harm that I might bring, but I know isn’t real.
The sun will have much warmth in its rays by then as it rises above the horizon. I will probably have one or more layers of clothes on my shoulders off by now, but my shirt will still be flooded with sweat.
Once home I’ll shower, redress and get busy with my ‘stuff’ that I’ve planned for the day. Fully awake and rejuvenated, I’ll have an inexhaustible source of energy.