Winter Dawn

February 28th, 2021

It is now 4:30 AM. I fed Asher and changed his diaper an hour ago. Now he sleeps next to me in his bouncy chair, making little mewing noises. He will no doubt wake up in an hour or so, hungry again.

My wife, Karin, and I have come up with schedule for Asher’s night feedings. It’s taken us a month to sort things out, but I think we finally have a plan that works. Karin is by nature a night owl, so she is comfortable with staying up quite late. I spent over twenty years working third shift, so I am used to waking up dark and early. We trade shifts some time between 1:00 and 4:00 AM. The times vary according to Asher’s sleep pattern. It’s not the best possible system for Asher’s care, but it is all we have for now.

After I feed Asher his bottle of formula, I generally walk with him through our darkened house. He needs to burp, and the walking calms him. It is good for me too. The slow, steady pace is kind of a meditation practice for me.

At some point, I usually stop to stare out of our patio door. I like to watch the approaching dawn. Asher does not watch with me. He is generally asleep at that time, with his little, round cheek welded to my right shoulder.

Winter dawns are somehow different from those that occur at other times of the year. I’m not sure why that is. Our patio door faces to the east, more or less. I can see the sky slowly brightening over the branches of the bare trees in our backyard. The horizon turns a gun metal grey at first. It looks cold somehow. The early twilight is uninviting. The landscape is only slightly more distinct, and the snow on the ground reflects the weak light. The wind moves the tree limbs like they are black, skeletal hands in the air. I can see things better, but the message from the sun is still “stay inside the house”.

It seems to take a long time for the sun to come. First, there are flashes of pink at the tree line. It’s like the night sky is leaving grudgingly. Objects in the yard remain dim and colorless. The world becomes gradually brighter. It happens too slowly.

Then, all at once, an orange ball of fire crests the roof of the neighbor’s barn. A knife blade of pure light stabs through the glass of the patio door. Suddenly, all of the snow is glittering and brilliant. The yard is alive in all its details.

Morning.

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