Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Photo-wise, it's been a long semester. On the weekends I was home, likely as not it was cloudy or snowy. I didn't hit many good days, if any.

Nor this morning--first day since I left the classroom teaching behind. A billowing curtain of clouds prevented even a glimmer of dawn and stood like a wall to the east before giving way to clear skies. I stood on the side of the road, far above a small town, one of my favorites places; but there was no color whatsoever, nothing but gray.

So I went back down the hill, went back to town, where I got more coffee and a donut, and headed back. Along the way I stopped at a cottonwood grove, where, as Ian Frazier says, the trees lean sideways, like pencils in a cup. That's a natural position out here, where there were no trees. Any of them that have the temerity to stand up against the weather take their licks.

The sun finally emerged, colorlessly, from behind the curtain and painted long shadows down toward me from those naked cottonwoods. It's the best I could do.

Most dawns don't have much color. This one was of a type. But winter's livery of long shadows are themselves an entertainment this time of year, even though the landscape itself is monotonously monotone. So I did what I could.

Being there is the whole story, of course. The crap game I play every Saturday is not only to catch the light itself--always perplexing--but to be the right place to do it.

I didn't fail exactly. This is about the best I got, and it's a B- or so. Trust me, I'm grading papers.

Still, reminds me of Dickinson--this time of year always does. "There is a certain slant of light/On winter afternoons." Or mornings. She's right. You don't need to see it to know it.

Next week, I'll do better. The only way to get 'em is to go.

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