Winter mornings

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It is dark when I wake up, and Harry and I spend our winter mornings together on the rug of the lounge room floor in the gentle quiet of the predawn. I draw the curtains to let the day in but outside, the stars are still bright. Harry wiggles and squeals. "Dad dad dad dad dad," he says. I kiss his impossibly soft cheeks. "Say Mummy!" I tell him. "Dad dad dad." The door is closed to keep the heat from escaping. Through it I can just hear the soft click that means the kettle has boiled and I ease my way off the floor, feeling ancient, and shuffle into the kitchen to make tea. "DAD DAD DAD DAD" Harry yells cheerfully at my retreating form.

I love these early mornings and guard them jealously. Sometimes on a weekend, Mr B will offer to get up with Harry to give me some more sleep. It is tempting. I am sorely tired, and I haven't had a true, decent night's sleep in more than two years. Not one night. But these mornings are worth even more than sleep. So I drag my body out of bed and hold Harry's chubby little hot-water-bottle-body close as we climb down the stairs. Flip the kettle on. Ease Harry onto his mat on the floor. Tickle his ribs. "Dad dad dad dad." "Say Mummy!" And so another day begins.

It is so rare that I am still, in life, ever. Still of body or of mind. I multitask obsessively. I can't even relax doing one thing: I'll draw or craft or write while watching TV. I've never been good at meditating, I'm one of those people guilty of composing shopping lists and having imaginary conversations with people at work while supposedly entering a guided meditatively-zen state at the end of a yoga class.

But these winter mornings teach me to be present in a way that meditation never has. I sit on the floor and smile at Harry. There are books and magazines and my phone and my computer nearby and they call to me, but I have learned that the best mornings happen when I leave all those distractions closed. It's just me and Harry and that cup of tea.

I know I'm not the only one finding the pace of life almost insane these days. It's such a cliche to talk about the progress of time but have you realised that this year is already more than half over? Wasn't it just New Years? Just last month? Life tilts in a dizzying chaos, and any tasks I put off can languish neglected for months that feel like mere days. It's as though the rush and roar of our planet and its moon hurtling around the sun can actually be heard and felt, and in the cacophony of that cosmic journey we all have to yell and scream and jump up and down just to be heard. Even to hear ourselves.

But in the still, dark morning, the planets pause. The world hovers. Venus hangs like a jewel outside my window while the dawn waits to happen. My legs are crossed on the rug beside Harry ("Dad dad dad dad"), my fingers are laced around the Pantone colour mug I have chosen to match the mood of my waking (orange or yellow for energy, blue for creativity, sage green for calm), and it is perfect peace. Dawn can wait.

{All photographs licensed for unrestricted use under Creative Commons}

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