Why Grumble When Wow Awaits…

I am semi-retired and don’t work till noon, why the heck am I awake at 5am!!! First of all, this whole early riser thing is new to me. When anyone ever said to me the early bird gets the worm, I would say those birds are welcome to it! I was a confirmed nighthawk. During summer vacation I have been known to spackle ceilings at 3am, I did my best housework in the middle of the night. Then I would sleep until noon or 1pm and repeat. Getting up early for work was difficult every…single…day of my career. I would have been much better suited to working in a night school. And yet, I would drag myself out of bed and put on my perky face to embrace the day knowing full well it was against my very nature. Some days I should have received an Academy Award for my performance but most days I wondered if I truly fooled anyone. And then, I got old. I only expected grey hair, wrinkles, and aching joints. The inability to sleep was not on my radar and yet, there it was. Loud and proud. Thou shalt not fall asleep and thou shalt wake up at unGodly hours. Boom. Now, this development was a rather rude awakening and I fought against it mightily. Wait? Bed at 10pm? Are you kidding me? Fully awake before 6AM? That can’t be healthy? It sure as heck wasn’t normal in my world. Surely all those morning people I wrote off for years couldn’t be right? What was happening to me??? Well, they say when a door closes a window opens. Luckily the changes in my waking habits occurred in conjunction with my developing hobby as an astrophotographer. It was serendipity at it’s finest because if I had to rely on setting an alarm and dragging my ass out of bed, it clearly wouldn’t happen. I know this from experience. The headlines could scream “Mars, the brightest in the sky till 2035” (which they recently did) and younger me would look at the alarm and go nah, I’ll catch it then. This morning was a case in point. I have always been interested in the night sky, but it is only in the last several years that this has turned into a passion and one I want to share with others. I read until 11:30 pm last night hoping that I would sleep until at least 7:30. You can imagine my chagrin when I awoke at 5. My husband had already gotten up to get ready for work while I do not need to present myself at my desk until noon.  I started entreating the universe. Please let him be quiet. Please don’t let the cats realize my eyelids opened momentarily. Please let me sleep another hour, but two would be sweet. But even as I lay there willing myself to sleep, it was elusive. At 6am, I heard my husband leave. He was very quiet, I was was just very awake. Well, I told myself, you have five and a half hours to get stuff done before you head off to go to work. Oh joy…not. I could also see that it was still very dark outside. I inherently believe that one should not rise before the sun. In other news the coffee was still fresh and hot. The cats, sensing the opening of an eyelid started to prowl my bedroom door, their voices becoming increasingly insistent that I tend to their needs before all else. I grumbled because it was early, I grumbled because it was dark. I grumbled because my eyelids felt grainy from lack of sleep and yet refused to cooperate and stay shut. Being awake early, does not a morning person make. Ugh! My habit is that the first thing I do in the morning is look out the window and it is the last thing I do before sleep. You just never know what you will see…Northern Lights or sunrise or mundane clouds and frost dictating clothing choices. This morning, while my cats were trying in vain to redirect my attention from the window to the food cupboard, I looked out the window and had a wow! moment. There was the crescent Moon and Venus resting gently on the still ink black sky surrounded by an entourage of stars. It was truly breathtaking. While my photos might let you think that I grabbed my camera and poof! there is photographic evidence, the reality is quite different. The first thought is wow! That would be a great shot! The second thought is how cold is it and will my housecoat be enough. I didn’t have to look at the thermometer to answer that thought, it is mid-October in Northern Alberta. I rush to throw on something warmer, including my winter jacket. Grab the camera and head out? Not quite so fast. My two furry descendants of cheetahs are primed for the sound of the back door opening and ready to pounce on an opportunity for escape. So the first order of the photo shoot is not readying the camera, it is cat wrangling. They are not stupid animals…they know something is afoot. Since the sound of a can opening is not ringing through the air, they are immediately suspicious. One follows me blindly into the bedroom whilst the other looks at me cagily from across the hall trying to reason the plot. Luckily she is a sucker for sweet words and warily enters the bedroom while I wait for just the right moment – when she has entered far enough in that I can quickly move past her and get the door shut. Whew! Cats are corralled, there is nothing between me and the view now. The camera is already conveniently located on the tripod with the right lens (how lucky is that!). I quickly engage the settings I require while still inside with light, then grab the tripod, kill the lights, open the back door with confidence that no cats shall escape to the great outdoors, and step out onto my deck which, after the rain yesterday and the below zero temperatures overnight, has become a skating rink. I am not a religious person, as such, but clearly the hand of God was the only thing that prevented me, my tripod, and expensive camera equipment, from going ass over teakettle at that moment. Luckily the shoes I had hastily slipped on were equipped with a good grip. My life flashed before my eyes but I managed to remain upright. Adrenaline coursed through my body but fear was quickly replaced with awe as I stood under the very spectacle I had viewed from my kitchen window but now unencumbered by glass. You wouldn’t think there would be a difference…after all I had newly cleaned the windows…but there is a profound difference standing outside with starlight washing over you in gentle waves. I stepped carefully and with purpose knowing the imminent danger of navigating ice in the dark. Shots were made and grumbling at the hour and the darkness seemed silly in retrospect and gratitude was quick to take its place.  You do not need expensive equipment, in fact you do not even need a camera at all to experience the rush that comes with such a view. I watched a meteor zipped through the constellation Orion. It is indelible on my brain even without the photographic evidence. You just need to be present. Just simply that. The alternate story would be thus…I woke up and bitched about the hour, tripped over a cat on my way to the bathroom, couldn’t go back to sleep so I grabbed a coffee, and started scrolling Facebook. The end. Instead I grumbled at the hour and looked out the window and it made all the difference in the world.

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