It was still dark this morning as I drove the kids to school. Three months from now the sun will make a habit of sleeping in but today a stormy sky obscured its light.
I often wake to a lightening world. Light precedes the sun's rising, the way an introductory speaker precedes the keynote: it paints a general, if obscure picture of what's to come. Bulky shapes emerge where there was nothing before and begin to round out, to acquire features. If you watch closely these shapes morph into familiar objects before your very eyes. That hunched-over, unnatural thing to your right becomes an ordinary boulder; those tall moaning phantoms, wavering in a low, sad song are old, white pines swaying in the breeze - morning's breath- pushed by the first grey light, over the curve of the earth.
Today the world stayed dark, time suspended, hushed, as if it and everything in it would go on sleeping forever. If that was the earth's intent, she nearly had us all convinced- heavy on mattresses, legs curled, our minds on a skiff somewhere in the middle of a great, green sea, sounding the uncharted waters of our dreams. It was a beautiful deception- and it might have worked- but children, who still prefer life to dreams, began to wake, one by one, and laid warm hands on adult arms and shoulders. I started awake, gasped as I broke the water's surface, took in the sharp cold and shook out my wet hair. Marshall stood over me, saying something about the dark. He took his hand from my shoulder and went to dress for school.
"Just in the nick of time", I whispered. Or none of us would have ever come back.