The Fox at Dawn


Morning Grace 3.10.22
March 10, 2022, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Faith, Teaching, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

March 10th 2022

“The Calle Florida, roughly equivalent to London’s Bond street but more the width of Wall Street, may well have been one of the prides of Buenos Aires…..but it was not a main attraction to a man in love with the open sky” Stacy Schiff wrote in her biography of Saint-Exupery. It has set me thinking.

This world. This sweet old world.

I’m in love with creeks and unexpected waterfalls, rocks sculpted by time and water.

I’m in love with birds, their songs, their flights, their total lack of concern with me.

I’m in love with the fox, the hidden den, the jubilance of kits rough tumbling in the spring grass.

I’m in love with the voice of the owl.

I’m in love with how a snowfall can blanket the world with beauty and peace.

I’m in love with how flowers push their way up through the winter mud to bloom long before it seems possible.

I‘m in love with music and how the human voice can contain the universe.

I’m in love with the infectious glee of a baby’s laugh.

I’m in love with fresh sheets on a well-made bed.

I’m in love with the miracle of homemade ice cream, with blueberry picking in the early summer, with maple syrup made from trees I am standing under.

I’m in love with my fountain pen.

I’m in love with the sudden summer storm that changes everything.

I’m in love with Orion wheeling across the winter sky and the moon in all her phases.

I’m in love with bookstores and cemeteries, with a sailing ship that sits proud and brave on the bottom of a frozen sea.

I’m in love with a picnic table in the Little Wood where I write by lantern light before the dawn.

Ukraine.

Driving to school, I listen to the news. The bombing of the maternity hospital, the escape routes cut off, the soulless attacks on Ukrainian civilians. The world wrings its helpless hands in witness. I sit now in the peace of my classroom getting ready for the cheerful rush of children. The sun rises from behind the winter trees and I hear only the sounds of the school waking up. Ukraine, I send this morning grace to you.

My classroom.


Dusk and Dawn 10.9.21

Men and their leaf blowers have no love for the unwinding of the day as the sun slips down between late afternoon and evening. I shake my fists at them and walk by with my middle fingers in my ears. I know I am invisible to them, all they can see is their task. My neighbors in the big white farmhouse have set up a long, long table in the middle of their yard with white linen and enormous candelabras. I expect the Mad Hatter and the March Hare will arrive soon followed by a sleepy Dormouse and then a befuddled Alice.  It is a delightful sight. It’s a Friday night and once again I am home alone, breathing a sigh of relief. My week is always so very full, so many students, colleagues, all in motion, a buzzing hive of exploration and things that must be done.

Home again from school and from retrieving my dear old cat Piper Rose from the vet I set some things right in the house and step out again with my binoculars and field bag holding my eyeglasses and journal, intending to find magic, intending to take my time walking and looking at the world as if it were new. Remembering the owl’s song this morning, calling from the languishing black cherry in the back of my yard, I do not go far. I can hear the cars rushing along Brownsboro Road, folks hurrying home to their weekend, blind to everything thing else- I don’t wish to be swept into their current. I walk slowly around the little wood behind my garage, then slowly around the block, letting the tiresome leaf blowers complete their tasks. I sneak up the wooded lot next to the new neighbor who has never actually moved in, though she bought the house back in May. I stop every few steps to look, to see, to take a breath. A pair of young squirrels run off a tree in a game of chase, one of them nearly runs up my legs as if I were another tree but swerves at the last moment, unconcerned that I am human. It makes me smile, I feel honored. Now, here I am at the picnic table in the little wood where no one ever sits except me, once in a blue moon. 

The trees are so patient. I sit and wait with them. Still holding their summer leaves for a little while longer, except for the tall black cherries who are starting to let those tired old things go. The green is giving way to gold and yellow, other colors creeping in. The sun is setting soon. I look for the owl and hope to hear its call before I head into the house. I wait, the trees wait, the traffic roars in the distance, the crickets sing, the breeze disappears, voices from Alice’s party grow merrier and louder as the guests arrive. Owls do not care for parties. There’ll be no calls this evening, but I’ll be back before dawn. 

Saturday morning, I am here and so is the owl. Alice’s party has been long dispersed, the tea has grown cold. I woke at six, fed the clamoring cats, put on clothes to protect me from tick and chigger and mosquito, picked up my binoculars, journal and a little lantern and stepped quietly out the art room door to the call of the owl, sitting high in the black cherry, my old friend Orion shining in the sky behind it. Good morning, my blessing.

            I’m at the table writing by the light of the lantern, the night insects sing. The owl moved from the cherry into a tree here in the little wood where it sang a while longer and then grew silent. Perhaps it has moved on. Perhaps it will come back. I hear the distant hum and thrum of the roads, even early on this weekend morning people have places to be that aren’t where they are. I dream of living where I cannot hear them, cannot hear their busyness. I dream of living where the song of God quiets the noise in my head.

            I do love it though, my house on the hillside, my willful yard, this hidden little wood and lane behind it, right in the heart of Crescent Hill. I love that owls live here, that foxes and deer have made their way here from time to time. Raccoons, possums and rabbit are longtime residents. I love that I can walk to the library, bookstore and bakery, to Oscar’s hardware and Tammy’s consignment shop. I can stand in the road and talk with my neighbors, be part of block parties and celebrations. It is good, so good. The stars peek through the trees, the sun won’t be up for another forty-five minutes or so, the night sings on.

I’ve been reading The Tapestry Room, the book I am writing, here by the lantern light. Little insects make their way across the page, I note their progress. I look up to see the morning light creeping in. Suddenly a bird sings, she has seen the dawn too. More birds are joining in. I can see the ground more clearly, can hear the traffic grow louder, more insistent on its importance. The stars have disappeared. Night’s song is over- not quite, not quite- the owl is back, calling ‘who cooks for you? who cooks for you?’ I do, my friend, I do. I turn back to my reading, live inside the world that is as real to me as any. Each time I look up from it, the outside world has changed. Color is creeping into it as the earth turns toward the sun. 

(Drawn with plants from the neighborhood.)

My neighbor Bob just walked past on the little lane, off for his morning walk and coffee. I don’t think he even saw me sitting here. I turn off the lantern, useless now, and go into the house.