I woke this morning just as the sky was beginning to fade from the darkness of night to the shade of gray that precedes dawn. As the haze of unconscious lifted, I realized Zak was still lying in bed next to me. I nudged him gently with my elbow to ask him if he was planning to swim this morning at the lake or not. The color of the sky had led me to believe he’d overslept and wasn’t going to make it in time to join the other lake swimmers.
He confirmed my suspicion when he said it was 5:50, and then rolled over and went back to sleep. I sat up and said quietly that I was going to go for a bike ride as I slithered my way to the foot of the bed.
I dressed and headed downstairs to forage for something to take the edge off the earliest inkling of hunger. I sliced a kiwi and stacked it like a deck of cards, enjoying each card and it’s furry edges as I filled my water bottle and moved the cutting board from the counter in the sink.
It occurred to me as I was preparing to head out the kitchen door into the garage that I’d originally planned to do yoga this morning. For a moment I let myself entertain thoughts of changing out of my bike riding gear and into yoga clothes. My mind then leaped forward to the bitter cold and snow filled days that will be here soon enough. With a sea of mornings ahead of me to stay inside and do yoga and my days of bike riding soon to be over until the spring, I stayed the course and left to ride.
I listened to the mechanical clicks of a the garage door as it lifted and I walked my bike out onto the driveway. I was greeted with a beautiful sunrise and air so perfectly cool and crisp that it was practically begging to be broken and disturbed by a girl and her bicycle.
I wanted to capture more photos of the sunrise. It was so moving that I wanted to remember it in more than just my minds eye. Taking pictures seemed to cheapen it, but it didn’t stop me from stowing my camera in the small bag under my bike seat. I set a course for the east end of our subdivision, beyond the houses and trees to capture the rising sun with my digital eye as it rose between the clouds and moved above the horizon.
I rode through my suburban neighborhood and stopped where the pavement ends near the newer homes and construction. I’ve noticed the dirt road that extends beyond the paved road and on a whim decided I would explore it further, like I might have as a child on my bike before I knew about maximum heart rates and calories burned.
The dirt road ended in some brush and I turned around to continue on my way. Exiting the subdivision and heading into town toward the commercial district, I watched the sky transform from red to pink and then fill with yellows, oranges and blues.
I was glad to see other people walking and running this morning. I took comfort in knowing I wasn’t the only one awake and outside enjoying this perfect start to our brand new day.
There is no denying that the season is changing and autumn continues to inch ever closer. Although the wheel of the year never stops turning, the change of the seasons is more evident at certain times of the year than it is at others. I was brought back to this time three years ago, awaiting the impending arrival of our second baby who we now know as Maxine. With Zak’s help I had just made what I believed and hoped to be the best decision I might ever make; to choose the fork in the road that led to leaving a promising career as a computer programmer to instead stay home and raise our children.
As I approached the large grocery store, I made an impulsive decision to turn in and coast down the large sloping parking lot, following my childhood theme of that mornings ride. I noticed three old women walking together toward the store well before the rows filled with cars in parking lot. This led me to imagine they had walked together from their near by homes for coffee and to enjoy each others company early on a Wednesday morning.
I wheeled past the entrance and watched a woman exit the store with a grocery bag full of packaged food. I observed without judgment that it looked like she had bought candy and some baked goods. Without of course knowing exactly why she bought what she did, it reminded me of a life I once lived just two short years ago – using sugar and refined carbohydrates to find comfort and solace. What was it that led to me to these feelings of disorder and stress? What drove me to make poor food choices again and again?
Oh, right. Zak in a new, demanding job that left me home alone for long hours with a toddler and an infant. As much joy and wonder the girls bring into our lives, caring for small children can be both physically and emotionally taxing. Chocolate covered pretzels and everything bagels were my escape.
I made my way out of the parking lot and down a busy main road. Instead of my usual route, I veered off course once again and rode through a neighborhood I’ve never been into before. How many times have I walked by the people who live inside these homes and are a part of our community? In the aisles of the grocery store, at the post office, the library? Folks on their own journey, living their own stories that we call our lives, fighting their own fights.
I checked the clock on my bike a noticed I’d been gone for 45 minutes. Based on the landmarks, I knew from experience that I was about four miles from home. I set my course for the house to be home in time for Zak to get on his way to work.
A mile and a half from home, I passed under a large tree whose branches reached over road. At that moment three drops of water fell to my face. Two on my cheek and one on my eye lid. I briefly thought that the breeze must have blown a few droplets of water from a leaf into the air, by pure chance landing on me instead of the ground. A few more cycles of my wheels and I quickly came to learn that those weren’t drops from a leaf at all, but instead drops from the sky. It was starting to rain.
Heading west now with the sunrise behind me, I now noticed the gray clouds moving in and muddying the colors I’d appreciated barely an hour ago.
The rain remained light but picked up in intensity as I grew closer the house. I contemplated how I might best capture a photo to the end of the story I’d weaved for myself this morning. A beautiful sunrise and morning, ending with the rain slowly soaking the grass and the pavement.
I smiled when I realized we’d sat here barely 12 hours ago, watching ants attack popped corn that was now no where to be found. No human moved those kernels, I’m sure of it.
Inside to change out of my rain and sweat soaked clothes, Zak and I talked in hushed voices about the events of the day that just passed and those of the coming day as well. We moved downstairs to have breakfast and coffee together while the fruit of our loins continued to sleep.
I laughed to myself when I took my breakfast out of the fridge with child-like anticipation, realizing that I still and will likely always find joy and comfort in food. I’m grateful though that I’m now better equipped with the knowledge to make healthier choices, as well as more self-awareness to be mindful of the reasons breakfast delights me so.
The morning rain has already passed. The girls are rousing from their slumber and now it’s time to begin another day together.