The Songbird and The Owl
Despite my frequent longings for the Highlands of Scotland, I have to admit that my little cottage under the trees sits squarely in a most conducive location. In about three hours, I can be lost in mountain forests, far away from the hoi polloi of city life with the very real possibility of meeting a black bear on a pine-needled pathway. In about five hours, I can sink my toes in the sands of a windswept beach and stare out at a rolling sea.
Not bad, not bad at all.
When I was small, the only summer holiday we ever considered was that one that brought us to the beach. Many of my parent’s friends, and many of my own still today, headed for the white sands and placid waters of the Gulf of Mexico as soon as school was out. But then, as now, I have always preferred the wider, wilder, less accommodating shores that hem the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The realization that just beyond that razor-sharp grey line of horizon swam the mysterious continent of Africa would cause my imagination to dance. To stand on the Gulf and imagine Texas as the next landmass didn’t have nearly the same effect for me.
Of course, then as now, my Gulf-loving friends frequently gloated over the extraordinary beauty of the sunsets that sink behind their favourite waters night after night. I would naturally counter with the majesty of the glorious sunrises that rise up out of the Atlantic each and every morn. Of course, in truth, I never really saw them.
Those who know me well know never to phone me before ten in the morning. While I may indeed be awake, I am hardly conversant at that hour. I’m an unrepentant night owl and no matter how many times I’ve attempted to morph into the sort of person who pulls up the covers at a “reasonable” hour and bounds out of bed with the birds, when the clock strikes midnight I am nearly always infused with a creative energy that demands not to be ignored. Words fly into my head… stories…phrases…paragraphs. A knitting pattern begs to be deciphered; the characters in the book I’m reading can be heard pleading for me to release them out into the night air.
Just last week, however, I seriously altered my preferred schedule. I was heading to the low country for a writing event and wanted to be on the road early to escape the snare of city traffic. So dawn found me driving down a sparsely populated highway, sipping coffee and listening to the Brandenburg Concerto #3. And that dawn, my friends, was a revelation.
Sunrise, as all you early risers know, happens slowly, like a beautiful idea that is so casually formed at first you aren’t even aware of it, and like most beautiful ideas, it begins with colour and light. I felt privileged to watch it unfold. The autumnal trees lining the road began, bit by tiny bit, to reclaim their scarlets and golds from an ebony sky that only seconds before had rendered them invisible. Ebony became indigo, indigo became grey - then pink, delicate as an eggshell, crept over the horizon before me, a herald of its vibrant cousins soon to follow. Impossible to hold in repose, the sky became a glorious painting of light. I pulled on my sunglasses and grinned, overcome with a temptation to change my character right around. Yes, I thought! I shall become a songbird! No more snowy owl for me.
Later that night, I opened the door to the porch outside my room. Moonlight ran its fingers through the Spanish Moss that hung in the branches of the oak trees; its mysterious silver light fell across my bed, illuminating the books and knitting I’d conveniently brought along. A soft breeze swung through the screened door, carrying with it the scent of the sea.
I’ll let you guess what happened.
So tell me...
are you a Songbird?
Or a Night Owl, like me?
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