Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Morning

Small Town, USA

My day starts before dawn.  Manasseh stirring in his room down the hall is the first sound that breaks through my subconsciousness.  He squawks, then finds a fist and sucks in silence for a while, then squawks louder.  His insistence pulls me out of bed.  


Luaniua, Solomon Islands

Roosters crowing.  Not the romantic cock-a-doodle-do you hear in Saturday morning cartoons.  More like a strangled croak, as if someone had kicked the bird off its ridgepole.  Except for the roosters, the village is still muted, everyone rustling awake in the dimness of their huts.  The ever present surf pounds the day's rhythm, deep bass.

Small Town, USA

His cries a homing beacon, I pad down the hall to Manasseh's room.  He's flipped over on his back, a stranded, hungry little turtle.  I scoop him up and hold him against my chest.  He calms right away.  "Shhhh sh sh, my little man,"  I whisper.  "Hush now."  Four steps away is the rocker.  We settle into it and his whole body tenses in anticipation.  He opens his mouth and begins to root desperately, then clamps down with a hungry grunt on my breast.  I rock, he eats, the ceiling fan whirls overhead.

Luaniua, Solomon Islands

My bladder is full.  I lie for a moment, listening to the crunch, crunch of our neighbor's feet on their crushed coral floor, the baby's cry, the mother's murmuring.  The baby's quiet again.  I swing my feet to the floor and tighten my lava lava under my armpits.  Our house shudders gently on its stilts with each step I take.  Then I'm outside and the air is fresh and the coconut trees are quivering awake.  Someone somewhere is chopping wood.  I find the familiar trail through grass huts that hunch low and shaggy, and a few minutes later am standing on the beach, facing the morning waves.  Taking a deep breath against the Pacific coldness, I wade in, and do my business.

Small Town, USA

The baby's fed and back asleep.  In the kitchen, I punch the button to start the coffee, then spend a quiet 30 minutes on the couch.  This is where my batteries charge for the day, when I feed my soul breakfast and fill my reserves in order to be poured out for the rest of the day.  I finish one cup of coffee, and pour another.  Through the wall I can hear my husband's shower start.  A face appears around the corner of the hall.  Xander, my early morning buddy, climbs onto the couch next to me and lays his head against my shoulder, looking up at me with sleep heavy eyes.  I kiss the top of his head, his blond hair rough on my lips.  

Luaniua, Solomon Islands

On the way back from the ocean, my wet lava lava sticks to my legs, and sand sticks to my feet.  There is now a haze of smoke from morning cook fires across the village.  I pass a young girl of about 8 as she settles a blackened and dented kettle into the fire outside her family's hut.  Back at home, my mom's whisking powdered milk into a bowl of water.  Dehydrated papayas and pineapples are on the counter beside her, ready to cut into our bowls of granola.  The gravel crunches down below as my brother returns from his morning trip to the sea.  A few minutes later, the six of us have gathered around bowls of granola and instant milk.  We bow our heads and pray for the day.

Small Town, USA

I've got bacon sizzling at one side of the griddle, and scrambled eggs are quickly firming up on the other.  Toast pops.  I fetch it quickly from the toaster, spread on some butter, give the eggs another swirl with my spatula, and flip the bacon.  The sound of the shower has ceased in the back of the house.    Xander's got his knight dress up gear on over his Elmo Christmas pajamas.  "Hi-ya!  Hooo-ah!"  he yells, swinging his sword.  He's still the only kid awake.  "Bubby, come here and take Daddy's coffee to him,"  I call.  He's dispatched down the hall.  


Ten minutes later, Sophie stumbles into the kitchen with a storm cloud over her head.  She slumps into her seat at the table as Scott emerges in his suit and tie, coffee cup in hand.  We all settle down, Cheerios and bacon for the kids and eggs, toast and bacon for the adults.  The day has begun.

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