Mornings

At 5 a.m. the alarm on my phone rattled me awake with its little jingle, a not-so-gentle reminder that it’s time to get up soon.

A few minutes later a second alarm would go off, again reminding me that I should probably get up.

The third alarm says ‘come on, up and at-em!’

My actual alarm clock resounded at 5:30, the fourth and final alarm screaming country music at me from across the bedroom and demanding that I get out of bed RIGHT NOW.

And I’m up, tripping over programs, past performances and mountains of clothing that have found a home on my bedroom floor as I stumble over to turn down the music.

Throw on a pair of jeans, hair in a pony tail, tucked underneath a baseball cap. Stuff my recorder in my front pocket, press pass around my neck, pen crammed into a back pocket along with folded up past performances.

I down an English muffin with peanut butter, head to my car. By this time it’s around 6:15 and I’m mostly awake. Arrive at the track around 6:25, depending on how many green lights I stopped at, oblivious to the fact that I could go. Yes, this happened more than once – late nights at the office make for even earlier mornings, and they tend to add up after a while.

By the time I stepped out of my car, the sun is almost completely up, illuminating the activity on the racetrack. I breathed it in as I watched the horses from a table by the track kitchen. The day so young, so fresh and new. Like a blank page about to be filled with words.

Mornings in Saratoga. The best kind of mornings.

A month ago today was my final day in Saratoga for the summer. I didn’t realize that until I looked at the date a few minutes ago, but my subconscious must have been fully aware from the moment I got up this morning, because the track lingered in my mind all day.

It took several reminders from my alarm, as it does every morning, before I drug myself out of bed at 6 a.m. I pulled on a pair of sweatpants, a sweatshirt and mud boots. I was by myself this morning, with my dad and brother hunting elk in Montana and my mom in Colorado for a cousin’s wedding.

I missed the company of my mom as I headed out the door to do chores. I walked outside in pure darkness, only the slightest glow of sun sneaking up on the horizon. My Quarter Horse mare Misty gave me a stern look and a sharp whinny, letting me know that she did not appreciate my 10 minute tardiness.

Give the horses grain, toss them hay, check water.

Spend 20 minutes cleaning out the paddock, an invigorating morning task – ironic as it sounds.

Feed the dogs, open the door to the chicken coop, releasing our two chickens and one duck, who happily quacked as she waddled out the door.

And then I walked, as is mine and my mom’s morning routine. Sometimes it’s just to the end of our long driveway and back, other times down the gravel road. But this morning it was just me and my thoughts and the corn on the other side of the road, a slight breeze swaying it from side to side.

I walk and I breathe and I pray. It may not be Saratoga, but it’s another day. Another blessed day.

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