Start the day with a masterpiece

I go to the back door and am stopped in my slippered tracks. Beads of water cling to its screen, necklaces unstrung.

I woke this morning to an empty and quiet house and happily so. My husband, an otherwise sensible man, has the regrettable habit of turning on the television each and every morning, like a moth to the flame. But this morning the moth has gone fishing and the flame is firmly extinguished. The resulting quiet is happy and rare.

I go to the back door, for the purpose of retrieving the newspaper from its delivery box out at the road, and am stopped in my slippered tracks. Beads of water cling to its screen, necklaces unstrung, locked by the screen's grid into something like a checkerboard, if checkerboards wore jewelry. A spider was here, its web connecting the dots of the beads of water, web and water all catching the early morning light, all shimmering, all fragile, all splendidly so. I did nothing, I know, to deserve this caught breath and am grateful again for spiders. One must be always grateful for spiders.

I step out into the untelevised world, easing the screen door closed behind me, careful curator of this masterpiece that has fallen in my lap, and walk the length of the driveway. I am still in my pajamas. One of the privileges of being of a certain age is the wearing of disreputable pajamas, which these are. I breathe in air that is so fresh it is almost wet, air that invites wringing out. I could wash my face in it.

The cornfield across the road does not seem nearly so tall or so green as it ought to be, given the time of year, but I am not discouraged. I, for one, believe the corn can still do it. I believe there is still time. I do not give up on the corn just as, in different circumstances, I hope the corn will not give up on me.

In the treetops at the far side of the cornfield there are crows screaming bloody crow murder at each other. They lift up from one treetop to settle in another, lift up and settle, lift up and settle, all the while hurling crow epithets, taking names, threatening lawsuits, swearing revenge, demanding retribution. If crows did not invent the art of having the last word, they are among its most ecstatic practitioners.

Beyond the crows' treetops are banks of clouds. These are not the giddy and frivolous clouds of summer. These are the serious and thoughtful clouds of fall, clouds that make lists, pay their bills on time, vote in every election. These clouds know nothing of beaches but would work for world peace if given the chance.

I collect my newspaper and turn for home. Dawn is just past, but no trace of it remains in the eastern sky toward which I am now walking. No ethereal pinks. No heavenly golds. Only blue and plenty of it. If this blue could be contained in a paint bucket, its name would be New Day Blue and it would fly off the shelves. We would slather every wall and every ceiling with the stuff. There would be no stopping us.

There are some jobs that have been done so thoroughly and so absolutely and so correctly by others that the rest of us, the lesser and undistinguished and indistinguishable rest of us, should make no attempt. Oscar Hammerstein said it first. Oscar Hammerstein said it best.

Oh, what a beautiful mornin'. Oh, what a beautiful day.

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