During our student days, my friends and I were death-defying young women and proud of it. Rising nineteen and with energy to burn--and far too stupid to spot the Grim Reaper even when he was sitting on our handlebars--we'd soar and drop on bikes without brakes down and around Bascom Drive's unforgiving, cement tumble of curves to the Union. We'd fly between furiously cursing bus drivers and stone walls as the large capes we obnoxiously affected whipped in the wind. We may have been hotdogs, but we were hotdogs with capes.
I wonder what my friends would have thought if they'd known of the real pleasure I get, these days, just from rising early, making coffee and reading the newspaper?
Soon after dawn I'm up and looking out the window to see what the birds are up to. There's always a crow, on the highest branch of the tallest pine, looking over his world and seeing what's in it for him. I've never seen a crow, in this position, who didn't look as though he'd do just fine.
If there's a red sky behind him, it foretells an interesting but possibly stormy day.
For humans, this first hour should have a nursery peacefulness. There's plenty of time later to toil, sing, battle and laugh. Soft, warm clothes are nice. My favorite dawn shirt is a red plaid flannel, washed to the tender softness of red milkweed floss.
Next, coffee. I don't know if the java-jive loves me, but I love it. The French Roast brew should be bear-black in color, and a lion in action: strong enough to turn your eyes from back to front. You want that coffee to come roaring out of the mug shaking its mane. You want the jukebox of the sleeping brain to be slapped awake, light up in all its reds and yellows, and begin spinning its songs.
In regard to the newspaper, I know that world disasters are not my fault. Still, I'm neurotically compelled to read about them carefully, once a day. After that, it's all right to have some fun and study the behavior and remarks of embezzling or randy evangelists, close relatives of felons, and all political candidates. Scanning our dailies, I see that co-pastors of a Pentecostal church are on the outs. "He said he would punch my jawbone up my nose and pull the weave right out of my hair!" complains one. "That man's behavior would make Jesus puke!" storms the other.
Next, I learn that it's Barbie Doll's 50th Anniversary. According to the tabloid fashionistas, Barbie is innocently responsible for tens of millions of egg-yolk-yellow, fairy-gilt and hoochie-gold dye jobs "sitting strangely," as they put it, on 50-to-60-year-old grey American heads: mature women who'd adored her as little girls and whose personal ideal remains the stardust princess.
Next, the relatives of a serial murderer puzzle over his behavior. "He must have only become a monster recently," the stepfather says tolerantly. "He has always sent me very nice Father's Day cards. Hallmark."
Reluctantly, I fold up the newspaper and for the first time that day, look directly at the computer sitting on the oak table. The English language has at least a million sinewy words in it, most of them capable of root-binding and branch-whipping any fool who handles them carelessly. I walk to the table, but take one last look out the window at the strange sky: red, with high storm clouds, and a spellbindingly defiant sun.