From April to October, the sun is high enough at 6 a.m. for me to run outside before I go to work in the morning while it's light out. Before I run, I read for awhile in my purple chair with me eye on the window, waiting for the first pale rays to climb over the horizon. Starting each April, I begin to notice that from day to day, there is a minute change in when those first rays appear, slowly coming earlier and earlier until June and July when they are up before I am at 5 a.m., greeting me in my bed.
At first I have to run on the roads because the trails in our woods and the grassy areas are too muddy, but eventually I begin to test those areas too as they change each day, until usually May or June when most are reasonably navigable. And when I start running the trails almost every day, there continues the slow evolution of their drying and hardening, each day a little better than the last.
The animals I encounter change, too. Earlier in the spring, on my first lap around the pond each morning I would hear frogs gasp in surprise and plunk, with a little splash, into the water as I would pass, one after the other-- as if they had all lined up in a ring around the edge for this performance. By mid-summer, there is only an occasional and larger splash and they no longer release a little yelp before they take their plunge. Now it is the lone loon whom I terrify on my first lap. His prolonged and agitated yelping are hysterically satisfying. And just today, I surprised a single deer on the pond path. I think he was just getting a drink alone, and I must have been moving quietly, because we came very close, startling each other before running in opposite directions. If I had had the wherewithal to reach out my hand, I could have touched his flank. I often see the deer back in the pines where they bed, but usually in groups and never so close.
Also today, I picked a bowl full of blueberries after I finished. They are late this year. Usually they are done by now but the raspberries ripened before they did. That is a first. This is only the second picking. Once they start to ripen, we can pick quite a few every day and they are all at different stages of ripening. Each day their colors shift until they are deep blue and my fingers know, by the slightest tug, whether they are fully ready. When they are, they roll into your palm with no resistance.
The daily ritual of returning to this space is its own lesson. The land is constantly changing, each day shifting its lights and colors and shapes in a predetermined course. Only through constant conversation with it, melding my own habits to its course, do I fully experience it. For all the relentless forces in this world, beauty is one.