My eyes focused out toward the horizon as red and yellow lights danced across the water. The darkest part of the day is just before dawn, when everything is resting, quiet before the brink of day. The outside critters were snuggled in their burrows, the birds tucked down in their nests not a peep or song being sung. Even the owl was soundless, perched where I thought he might be on the tallest branch that lingers near the shoreline, waiting to fly home. There I waited for the black space in front of me to fade into the deepest blues and for the trees only then to become shadows of the morning—twilight. Our golden retriever Lilly shook, causing her collar to rattle much like an old-fashioned alarm clock that made Maia, our skittish cat, leap from the bed fearful for her life. Maia knows very well that Lilly shakes every morning and has for the past nine years to signal she needs to go out. Athena, our brave warrior rescue cat, appeared from nowhere to chase and scold Maia for fleeing, though it’s more like a daily cat and mouse game that they play. Our not-so-graceful cat named Eevee clawed her way to the bed’s surface and started pleading for food with the loudest, most pitiful half meows heard on the planet. Reluctantly, I tossed the sheets aside knowing I, as a pet guardian, have been summoned for morning duties. I yawned—morning had found me before dawn.
The dream—no, a memory—danced through my head. Aroused at the brink of dawn by soft whinnying and other farm animals stirring about. I rubbed the head of my cat HunnyBear and then threw on my clothes, slid into my boots, and off to the barn I trotted. The excitement I felt way deep down inside for these four-legged critters was beyond thrilling. Some nickered, some whinnied, some pawed their stall doors with their hooves, hoping they were the next to get food in their hay bin or grain in their buckets. Quiet as a mouse, I watched but hoped Alberta would notice me and let me help. I could have been five, six, or seven and not taller than a horse’s leg, but these were my best friends and I wanted to help give them their breakfast. Alberta greeted me with a good morning and told me who I could feed in Spanish. Oh, how I wished I was still fluent. Some horses nodded their heads, some stuck their noses out between the bars for me to pet, but not one horse was happier to see me than Liza. We have a history together, some of which is told in The Last Crabtree Girl. Liza was in the small corral on the side of the barn, and Alberta would hand me a small flake of hay to give her until he could feed her horse size breakfast. She greeted me with a knicker and a soft gentle kiss. I crawled through the fence and placed her hay on the ground, only because I couldn’t reach the hay bin! I rubbed her shoulder and gave her a hug before I heard Mom yelling my name. I’d forgotten it was a school day and run for the house.
What’s not to love about a morning when nature is at its best and up at dawn!