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Winslow Homer: The Rooster (1876)
" … my Roostering's finished just before The Muse's day begins."

The neighbor's rooster starts crowing two hours before dawn, every blessed morning. I'm almost always already up by then, anticipating my day, finishing my writing. Both that rooster and I seem to possess an active anticipation, he, an internal clock, and me, a sense that I cannot quite grok. His kind served as the original alarm clock. My kind just woke up earlier than almost anybody and set to work. It might be that the work I do cannot be performed in the full light of day, but can only emerge in faint light or anticipating light, only out of near darkness. Some might insist that the rooster's cursed to never enjoy a full night's sleep, but I suspect that the rooster would disagree, as would I, for enjoying sleep seems to require having finished working and never entails avoiding it. One might fitfully attempt to sleep with unfinished work, but probably won't enjoy it.

Lately, as my life's focus has shifted from the etherial into the more practical, my early morning ritual has seemed less important, less urgent.
That rooster never seems to waver, always on time, even when first light came at around four in the morning, he'd be up crowing at two. Me, too, for I came to insist upon rising ever earlier, justifying this decision to myself by recalling that I'd reliably risen at three when in Mountain Time, so two Pacific shouldn't be a stretch, and it wasn't, at least not at first. But as the Refurbishment has continued and I have been spending more and more of my time in physical labor, I've found the early alarm clock easier to ignore, more often dozing through until my backup alarm sounds at four. By four, the early morning's just about shot. I've got just enough time if I focus to finish my morning rituals and my writing before the physical workday starts at seven-thirty. Still, I persist, living essentially two lives right now, my traditional surreptitious predawn one and the other where I serve as a day laborer.

I meant it when I said that the rooster and I share an anticipatory sense, for we both report well before the dawning. His, the dawning day, and me, a dawning recognition, for whether I'm writing about some past experience or projecting forward into some future one, I seem to write to achieve some sort of realization. I might finally catch myself setting a story straight, stumbling upon a previously hidden thread, or I might be prefacing something just on the edge of happening, something I could not possibly know anything about yet. And yet, that piece of writing later seems strikingly prescient, a perfect complement to whatever came next. How did I anticipate that? Truth told, I did not. Perhaps the event followed the premonition, like the fabled rain following the plow, though nobody has yet managed to explain how such things work. Often, though, something I blindly posed in that morning's posting, pretty much sums up what happened later that afternoon. An insight that seems to accurately describe some significant lesson. A learning seemingly by induction rather than deduction. A small spark of magic, or a huge one.

I sense that my insistence upon rising so damned early must be tied to a certain sense of insecurity, much as the rooster's. He's apparently warning off potentially mortal enemies while also tipping off his position to them. "Come and get me," he seems to crow. I know that sensation, too, from my own predawn work, for my insistences, too, seem to sometimes subtly help home in what might have been enemies. I often complain about some inability or something, only to find that complaint repaired shortly thereafter. I'm finding that admitting a personal shortcoming almost always helps resolve it. Perhaps at that hour, my scribbling travels directly from keyboard to God's ear with little distraction. I always sense some strange attraction to finishing my work before any other can intrude. If I'm not finished by the time Kurt Our Painter arrives, I feel found out and struggle to close. Ideally, my Roostering's finished just before The Muse's day begins, though it often extends into later realizations. Hey, wasn't I just saying that to myself just last night?

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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