In praise of mornings

I can’t remember the last time I truly “slept in.” The snooze buttons and sleep-past-noons of my youth are long gone, done-in by a working life that required my full attention (and often my physical presence) by 7am.

Even without dogs to wake me, I haven’t used (or needed) an alarm clock in years.

But none of that is what makes me a “morning person.”

I rise early these days when Scout, Dipstick and Smudge say it’s time, which this morning was 5:40am. And I stay awake for black coffee in my cup, dusty color in the eastern sky and cool, damp air on my face. Six weeks from now I’ll turn 66 years old, and I don’t know how many dawns I have left to see, so I may as well make the most of the days I’m given.

For me, that means starting early. Today’s gifts were temps in the mid-50s and a soft sunrise, birdsongs in the nearby woods and making coffee with water drawn from Gray Spring. Looking around the campground as I walked the dogs and put yesterday’s trash at the curb, I saw none of my fellow campers out and about.

Their loss. I can’t imagine squandering those early hours.

Within the week our fifth-wheel will be parked on The Mountain. When I walk outside in the morning I’ll step into the rising sun.

I’ll enjoy that while it lasts. When our house is built, its front door (and a front porch, eventually) will face west, a portal to sunsets over Ozarkansas.

Even then, I’m sure I’ll find the perfect place to greet the dawn.

Smudge, now on her second day post-op, no longer is leaving her dressing alone. She all-but-shredded it yesterday, which sent us to a local farm-and-feed store for rolls of stretchy bandaging tape (think VetRap) and a pump-spray bottle of bitter stuff to discourage her from fussing with it.

After removing what was left of the original dressing, we got a good look at the wound. Nice work. Nothing unexpected. Sutures intact.

My re-dressing held up (mostly) through last night, which is more than I can say for the bitter spritz — it did nothing but spoil her appetite for real food this morning.

Spending time outside with Smudge, the two of us just sitting, served as a useful distraction from whatever pain, itch or general discomfort that makes her dig at the bandages. It substituted bugs, birds and the whitetail crashing through the woods behind us.

The Ozarkansas sky gradually went from hazy to chalky to threatening, and the rain we expected began falling well before noon. Because the approaching front didn’t bring much wind, I left the awning deployed and enjoyed the kind of day it turned out to be.

In prior posts I’ve recommended three Montana Pitch-Blend products — soap, oil and dressing — but recently I’ve used only two. I didn’t pack any of the dressing in the bus.

The finish on my intrepid Merrell slip-ons, even after repeated treatments with the oil, had gotten pretty shabby-looking. I picked up a small jar of Montana Pitch-Blend Leather Dressing, and this morning I finished the job of restoring those shoes.

Keep in mind that it’s a dressing, not a polish. It treats, preserves and semi-waterproofs the hide. I rubbed it into the loafers with my fingers, set them aside awhile to let the leather absorb the dressing, then buffed off the excess with a microfiber cloth and a horsehair brush.

This time I did it twice. I applied a first coat yesterday, using the afternoon sun to warm the hide and help it soak up the dressing, and backed up with a second treatment this morning.

It’s been over two years since I’d used Montana Pitch-Blend Leather Dressing, and I’d forgotten what a bang-up job it does on stuff that’s been neglected. Maybe my Merrells don’t look new anymore, but they sure do look cared-for.

There’s a woodswalking app I’ve been using lately, and I like it enough to mention it here.

It’s called, simply, Seek.

I’m not the encyclopedia of plant-identification knowledge that I was (or thought I was) when I was a Boy Scout. Traipsing over The Mountain now I’m anxious to name, learn and remember what I see, and sometimes that’s thwarted by the reality that this is The South — these aren’t the trees and plants that surrounded me in my Ohio childhood.

With Seek I can snap pics of whatever — shrubs and vines, trees (bark or leaves), ground plants and moss, bugs and even mammals — and the app will scour its database for a match. Most of the time, and given a decent photo, I’ll get a precise ID of what I’m looking at, complete with description.

Pretty cool. And yeah, it’s AI.

One thing that Seek has done for me, maybe the most important thing, is that it yanked me out of my oaks-and-cedars rut. It opened my eyes to more biodiversity than I thought existed on The Mountain, showing me elm and hickory and black walnut. I could’ve done the same thing with the softcover handbooks I’ve used for decades (and I still have them), but the app makes learning a whole lot easier.

It’s all about the knowledge.

But the app isn’t quite perfect. This afternoon, for example, I used Seek‘s camera to take a photo of Deb, and it correctly identified my missus as “Human (homo sapiens).” When she returned the gesture by snapping a pic of me, however, the interface reported,

“We believe this is a member of ‘Vertebrates’ but Seek couldn’t identify the exact species.”


At least it recognized that I’m not an establishment Republican.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB