Give My Gun Away When It’s Loaded


I woke up at 4:30 this morning.

There’s not much to do when it’s 4:30 in the morning.

Well, there’s tons to do, but none of it is very interactive, none of it very inclusive.

It’s the best time to do something.

I walk into the backyard, which for the first time in a long time is warmer than the house at this time of the day. I take a few pictures of the pool in the earliest light. It might double as dusk if it wasn’t so quiet. Even the birds are subdued at this early hour.

I search the line of pines high against the sky, and behind a dying one I see it. The moon. Remnants of its super-version a couple of days ago remain. It nestles in the crook between brightening sky and silhouetted tree. I don’t think I’ve seen the moon at 4:30 in the morning, at least not on this continent. Endless summer nights in Russia and Finland come to mind, a bride arriving by boat across the lake, walking beneath branches of birch that we all held aloft. A lake-side cottage I shared with my mother. The burning stones of a sauna, and a nosebleed that wouldn’t stop.

There was a statue of bears at the bottom of the hill, and a castle of stone that had stood forever, is standing there still, will be standing there long after we have all departed. The bold strokes of Sibelius fill my mind, memories of a tyrannical conductor explaining the piece of music like a carriage pulled by wild horses through a winter forest.

How strange that the morning moon should bring me half a world away, and back so many years. Whatever that boy wanted to find on the steps of all those castles, in the trampled forest paths, in a dark lake beneath a sky of stars – I still don’t know what it was.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The birds are up now. The family of robins is back on alert, chirping and warning and feeding. The moon has gone, back behind the pines, lost in the brighter sky, the high clouds. I listen for the first airplane of the day, wish that  I was on it, going somewhere, anywhere.  A change of scenery. Even on its most beautiful mornings, summer inspires that.

Calling back and forth, the robins break the day. Other birds join in the chatter. The silence is gone but the stillness remains. The hanging ferns that spun so wildly in last night’s breeze are motionless. The fountain grass, already head-high, stands still, its banners of green no longer fluttering in the wind. Even the loftiest branches of the pines, usually swaying ever-so-slightly in the smallest shift of air, do not betray movement.

What a precarious place to be… 4:47 in the morning, when thoughts are so pure and clear. Those who people your mind at such a time are the ones who will haunt you.

But who has a claim on anyone?

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