No bit nor bridle

It was a night of wind and unrest. Waking, I found the moonlight lay in great watery pools on lawn and path and I knew it must have rained hard. I wondered at the sound that woke me up. It may have been the coon family that nightly raids the compost bins or it may have just been the wind. There had been a slight breeze earlier as I dozed off to sleep, a slow moaning sigh coming from the east woods. Nothing however,like the roar in mid-March when echoes of it come down the hill toward the house like the roll of bowling balls as it breaks through the tree branches. The wind now only whispered against the window pane as if it had no license to alarm us.

In light like this you may watch the shooting pulses of a star and feel the breathlessness of space. Sometimes I have tried to reawaken myself in the dark of early morning, just to lie there in the infinite expectation of the dawn as it creeps up against the shadows of the tool shed. It is then I know you can affect the quality of the day by the spirit in which you rise and bathe your face.

Waking up in the country, particularly in a densely wooded area such as this, you are struck how snug it all is, like the abode of a meadow mouse. But then, what is there about the night that should frighten one? ''Out away from everything!'' my friends have exclaimed. I invite them to spend a night and then I ask them, ''What is it I need to be near?'' Certainly not the hard cold horizons of steel buildings or the social and cultural crusts that layer over human potential. Many a poet has written about the night, but Walt Whitman has his own best: ''Tender and growing night, night of the large few stars.''

I open the door to let the dogs out and the air is full of heartfire smoke from our neighbors, who are hidden from view by the thick of the woods. But I know they are there and know they will soon be up too, even though it is far from daybreak. I believe there is more dawn for the farmer than for the banker who attacks the day like he attacks his breakfast and his desk. However, the banker would doubtless feel silly knocking on the door of the wood at dawn and waiting for the echo. The farmer rises and does a full set of chores before breakfast, inhales the clean, fresh air and lets it purify mind and body. He notes the direction of the wind, and plans the work of the day to fit the weather he expects. He is organized, paced, but with such a casual air and grace that one feels humbled by the simplicity of this executive.

It is light now and time to begin a new day. The pulse and pace have already been set by the silent communion that I have just tasted. It will be a richer day, a busy day, a day in which work will be the tribute I bring to time. There is no bit nor bridle. We distill from the earth our own disciplines. There are no rules because we are the rule. No center of endeavor because it is all center. Our senses are alert now with the first hot drink of the day and we are keen and hopeful of accomplishing much.

The closest house cannot be seen; the dogs tell us there are people about though, whom we'll see when the air is clearer. Now it is veiled in a fine mist. I've decided to walk around. It is eerie and the air seems full of expectancy. I think of a loved one. The dawn is a messenger between two spirits. I know not how many times the moon and the sun and the planets have encircled me since last we sat under the trees while the sun danced in shadows around us.

The ground fog lifted as I returned to the house and the trees took shape on my path. I examined the day ahead as I made breakfast.

Here within my circle of experience and daily work is my creed made complete and perfect. I wake up and walk abroad to where the sun rests on the garden and I say with conviction, ''I am this place and this place is me.'' There are no rules laid out for me because no one has been here before.

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