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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Muse on a Winter's Morn

Copyright © 2011 by Ralph Couey
I step out the door and my senses are shocked by the cold air. My exhalations become visible clouds as I blink away tears. The sky is still dark, the stars above brilliantly sharp points of light. Sunrise is still two hours away and will last but a short time before falling below the horizon in what used to be the middle of the afternoon. The world is silent; the music of birdsong has gone with their artists southward to warmer climes. What I do hear is the distant sound of traffic, the steady "aahhhh" of tires rolling on pavement. Cold air is dense and thus transmits sound much more efficiently and in the distance those sounds of humans beginning their day fill the void of nature's silence.

Winter mornings are like that, at least the ones that I remember. One such morning I awoke in a tent in woods I thought were miles from civilization. Yet, as I stepped out into the darkness, I could hear in the distance the sound of a highway. 

We're closing in on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. On that day the sun won't rise until after most of us are at work. And when we leave, night will have already fallen. We miss the sun and recall with nostalgia it's warmth on our face. And yet, in the midst of this darkness, it is also Christmas, a season of light. All around us, houses have been decorated, some simply, others with displays rivaling Fremont Street in Las Vegas. The lights dispel the dark and bring welcome color and cheer to our hearts. We scramble in these last few shopping days to complete the gift lists and the preparations for the traditional family gatherings. For some, this means plotting that trip to the airport; for others, preparing our house for the coming invasion. The kids are bubbling with excitement and anticipation and their happy spirits lighten our hearts. No matter how old we get, this time of year always brings back the child within.

For those of us who live outside the towns, the world is utterly silent. Occasionally a cold breeze will blow through. The trees, long bereft of leaves, respond with creaks and groans as the bare branches rock back and forth. Soon, snow will fall and will cover the world in a flawless blanket of white, while inside we watch the flakes float down, safe and warm by the fire.

This time will pass, and before too long we will be in that long, dark tunnel of January and February, months of relentless cold and storms that will tax our patience and add unwelcome challenges to our daily routines. It is a 60-day month that at times seems unending. But we endure, knowing that eventually, the sun will again rise into the sky, warming the air and bringing the welcome rebirth of spring.

These are the rhythms of our lives, as we move from one season to another. We will alternately celebrate and endure, and life will go on. The seasons pile into years, the years into decades. We will age, hopefully with grace, storing the memories along the way. For what is life, if not the passage of the years? Yesterdays and tomorrows flank the todays as we try to remember that each moment contains opportunities that will pass in an instant, never to return.

These thoughts pass through my head as my nose crinkles in the cold air. But today, the sun will rise, and I will go about my life until sleep claims me tonight. And years hence, long after I am gone from this life, days will continue to pass; seasons will wax and wane, and years will roll by like an endless river.

And as those waters flow, I discover that I am but a small piece of flotsam adrift on the currents of eternity.
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