Crack of Dawn

Fri, 04/06/2018 - 7:45am

It is one of those damp, dreary days that has no beginning and no end, it merely rises like a long ocean swell between the darks troughs of morning and night.

Only Wednesday it is and it feels we've been through whole seasons since last week.

The forecast for Easter Sunday held little promise but I dragged myself up from dreaming sometime after the first alarm rang at 4:15 a.m. and the final feet on the floor of 4:37.  The moon had been bright, my sleep fitful, bothered by the lunar influence and the worry of over-sleeping.  

Easter came early this year, on the first day of April, the day after the full Pascal moon. I let Autumn out into the darkness and went about gathering the items I had carefully set out the night before, certain I would forgot something when, in fact, nothing in my collection was especially important. There was the simple pleasure of easily available hot water — for which I am always grateful — easing my way into the day. 

The lady who heads up the breakfast at the Harbor Church, the gathering following the Sunrise Service, had told me this was her favorite morning of the year,  “driving down there in the dark. . .” and I was gladdened that she found in the task a certain joyfulness but also humbled by that perspective.

Still, after ushering a baffled Autumn back inside, and heading up the Mansion Road, my headlights cutting the dark, seeing deer startled by traffic even earlier than that time to which they are accustomed, I had to acknowledge there was something about starting out for this one exceedingly early morning task on this one day that was, indeed, special.

I was there only to assist if another pair of hands was needed, and the kitchen was moving smoothly and peacefully toward a cooked breakfast when I arrived. There is always some small task of limited responsibility that can to be done — not involving flames. It would be, I was sure, one of those Easter mornings when there is no more than a spread of ambient light, a lessening of the dark, and a final declaration that we simply have to accept on faith that the day has dawned out there behind the clouds. I was glad to be in the kitchen, out of the cold of a damp spring morning.

Still, I kept on eye on the clock as the pale dark slid toward a pale dawn and by some extraordinary stroke of timing went to the east door of the church as the sun made its very brief appearance, a spot of molten gold showing in the narrow space between the line of the horizon and the bank of clouds stretching down to meet it. 

When the late Leonard Cohen died those of us who loved his work had our own quotes, mine a less familiar line from one of his most familiar songs but, I kept seeing another, from a passage in a different lyric, one I finally adopted, if only for an instant Easter morning.

There is a crack in everything 
     That's how the light gets in

There it was out across the water, the dawn cracking to let the light get in. The sun was quickly swallowed by the clouds but, people at the service told me, not before it threw a glorious pink cast over the waiting land, including the building where I was taking refuge from the cold. 

The weather came and went all of Easter, sun emerging briefly between rounds of damp, then Monday brought a delayed April Fool in a cover of snow. 

It was forecast, it should not have been s surprise but of late snow has been predicted never to materialize. This was different, not the beautiful but deadly clinging icy, rather a soft and gentle cover for branches and grasses, Nature's apology for no spring sun. Most of all, it was quiet, stunningly quiet, I realized when I let Autumn out. She went to the new gate hanging at the entrance to the North Lot — well on its way back to being the North Pasture it once was — and looked out over the newly cleared land, checking out this new space where there used to be brush into which deer disappeared, then wandered on. 

Last Thursday, the night air was filled with the song of peepers. It is early April, when the mornings usually belongs to the birds, but they, too, were muted by the snow.

The snow ceased and by day's end it was almost completely gone; the next morning the world was frosted white, and tendrils of mist rose from the pond behind the house, night phantoms stayed too long, awakened late by the slow dawn.

Today it is raining, again.  Some days I do not hear or see Autumn as much as I sense her approaching me when I am at my desk. Absently I reach out my hand to pat her and find an exceedingly wet dog. It is chilly but I still forgot to close the door when I came in and my big dog decided to take herself on a walkabout, mindless of the weather. 

Back to the door I go to close it against the wet and cold, and to take from a basket an old towel kept there for the sole purpose of rubbing damp from Autumn's thick coat.

It is dreary, Autumn is wet as only a big dog can be, and the sound of rain beating against the windows sends an additional wave of chill through the room. 

Spring often does not come easily to Block Island. Tomorrow is Opening Day, which once brought renewed hope for the possibility of that elusive good ending come fall, another crack through which light fell.