It’s been a few months since I started trying to get up at 5:30 a.m. in a desperate attempt to have some uninterrupted quiet time to work. What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t get any easier getting up at that time; I still fight with the snooze button on a daily basis and usually waste far too much time lying in an awful in-between state of semi-consciousness, dreading both the alarm and the sound of waking children. What does get easier, however, is the desire to be up before the rest of the household is. My appreciation for the solitude of the house, the beauty of the morning, and the pleasure of my hot cup of tea have increased tenfold. Instead of working with a grudge and wishing I were still snuggled in bed beside my human furnace of a husband, I actually love being up early — once I’m up.
My parents also get up at 5:30 a.m. and I used to think they were insane. I vowed never to be like them, and yet here I am, doing exactly the same thing. (Funny how that always seems to happen.) When Dad gets up, he lights a fire in the cookstove (only in winter), grinds his coffee beans, and listens to CBC radio. Mom wraps herself in a quilt and heads for the boathouse, which has been converted into a room that’s built out over the water. That’s where she meditates and prays for an hour. She used to joke that she was praying for me, that I’d make it through my twenties relatively unscathed — a joke which I never found overly funny. Last summer I noticed that she wasn’t spending every morning in the boathouse, so that must be a sign that I’m out of the woods.
Thinking about that boathouse makes me miss it. It’s a nice rectangular room, with three big windows at the far end that face the lake. They can be flipped up and attached to the ceiling, making it seem as if there’s no wall at all separating you from the lake. There’s a window in the left that looks at the clump of horizontal-growing trees that grow out from the shore over the lake at a precarious angle. That’s where my sister and I always looked for frogs and practiced our tree-climbing. The window on the right faces Rheta Jones’ dock and a dense forest of lily pads. The boathouse is more or less east-facing, so it floods gloriously with sunshine in the early morning. From her desk’s vantage point, Mom can survey the entire bay. She can watch the loons’ antics as they swim and dive nearby, sometimes letting out their haunting, cascading calls. Sometimes a neighbour paddles by in a canoe or rowing skiff. It’s the kind of place that almost makes me want to sit and meditate — but not quite.
The view from my window is less inspiring than that of the boathouse, but I still like it because it’s mine. I face the Catholic elementary school across the street, which is an ugly 1970s speckled brick building, but at least there are some pretty things in between me and the school: the second largest maple tree on our property, our wide cedar hedge, my vegetable garden and new blueberry bushes, and the long narrow porch that spans the front of our 109-year-old home. Then there’s my window, tall and framed with the original dark wood moulding. It’s my special writing spot and I like it.