The Mortar of the Morning

I am back at home, fresh from a five mile walk.  I sit at the breakfast table, the casement windows open wide so I can enjoy temperatures hovering in the low 60s.  The clear sky this morning is bright but soft.  The sun hasn’t yet squeezed the gentleness from the air. I love to break the barriers between inside and outside, to have the blinds drawn so I can see the world outside my window.  I sit and gaze out at the greenery and the street and the occasional person walking by, sometimes alone and sometimes with a dog straining at its leash, eagerly sniffing at the lawn, as it passes.

Across the street, an old truck is parked.  It’s hard to say what color it is; it may once have been beige or gold or an odd yellowish-brown, but time and the elements have dulled and muddied the finish.  A sign on the side reads “House Cracks.  Brick and Mortar Repair.”  I watch as a guy who I’d judge to be in his mid to late 60s takes a bucket of mortar to the front of the house and gets about his business.   Just a few days earlier, a crew of four or five very dark-skinned men, all of them wearing straw “cowboy” hats  had taken down a portion of a brick privacy wall on the corner of the house; Mr. House Cracks is there to do the finish work, I imagine.

Shortly after I begin to hear his metal trowel tapping on the bricks, the sound stops suddenly.   I then hear him engaging in conversation with the woman who lives there, a woman I recognize but whose name I don’t remember, if I ever knew it.  I can’t hear what they are saying, but I am able to see them as they talk.  A moment later, she goes inside the house and then returns, holding a red can in her hand; it looks like a can of Raid from where I sit.  She hands it to Mr. House Cracks, who begins to spray up and down the side of the edge of the wall where he’s working.  I hear them talking, but I can’t quite make out what they’re saying…”carpenter” “they get behind….” “should do it.”  I decide he must have encountered a nest of carpenter ants and the woman has come to his aid with a can of poison.

Just as I notice the gentleness of the light has waned while I was eavesdropping on my neighbor and Mr. House Cracks, I realize the street outside my window has become busy.  The sound of cars driving up the street reminds me I am in a neighborhood of people who have jobs; they are driving off to work.

I remain behind, alone in my kitchen, paying more attention to my surroundings than I did in years past.  I enjoy experiencing each moment and thinking about my moments of experience.

Soon, my wife will wake up and will come into the kitchen, expecting me to hand her a glass of tomato juice and finish preparing our breakfast of turkey bacon, a plain egg-substitute omelet, and a few pieces of the cantaloupe I cut earlier this morning after I returned from my pre-dawn walk.  I appreciate that expectation.  I relish it.  I enjoy meeting it.

Life is good now.  Right at this moment, I do not need anything else.  Nothing else at all.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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