We’ve got two weeks to go until the solstice, but tonight, at these latitudes, is the earliest sunset of the year. Last night, in the dark before the waning moon rose, the coyotes came right up under the back porch window and howled their hearts out. Perhaps they were after the field mice that have taken haven in the grasses around our house pond. Perhaps they just wanted to welcome me back to the neighborhood.

But I’ve never been a night owl. Or night coyote, for that matter. I listened for a while in the dark, then picked up guitar to offer some accompaniment, but by then they’d moved on, and I retired for the evening.

Morning is when I feel most alive. At 6:30 in winter around here, it’s still full-on night, but the lane down to the pond and western brush pastures had plenty of moonlight. The land sparkled in dream black and white from the frost. A slumbering mist lay in the hollows of our lower haylands and the grass crinkled beneath my padding steps.

The excursion down to the pond and back was a reminder to live in the moment; no words could capture the raptured silence, nor could any camera contain the images that found my eyes. What beauty was to be found in this morning was for me, then and there, alone.

By noon the grass would again be lush and green, and this wonderland would be gone as surely as a dream, but how could I resist going back again, camera in hand, as soon as there was daylight?

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