Some few weeks ago my grandmother, who has learned to love email, sent me advice about how to become a Morning Person.
First of all, you must rise just before dawn.
You put on a fluffy bathrobe and warm slippers and go into your kitchen. (Your kitchen is beautiful, because your home is beautiful and because you never leave dishes in the sink.) You start your coffee and then go back into the bathroom for your morning ablutions. (Your bathroom is elegant, spotless, with seashells and lavender soap.)
When you return to the kitchen the sun is rising over the meadow and early light is beginning to seep through the windows, filling first the blue glass bottles in the window and then pooling around the flowers in the bowl on the kitchen table.
You make a simple breakfast: an egg, some toast, with three mushrooms and two pieces of kale fried up in the pan with the egg. The kale was picked from your garden yesterday, the eggs are from the neighbor’s farm. The mushrooms are from the grocery store but another time you might very well have picked them yourself in the woods.
The woods around your house are an enchanted forest of Christmas pines punctuated with mushroom-frilled logs and stumps, hollows filled with bluebells, mysterious glades of ten-foot-high ferns that dwarf your friends and family into gnomes and fairies.
Your kitchen garden, outside the window, is warming as you drink your second cup of coffee, bees and butterflies gathering already around the purple sage flowers and frothy coriander gone to seed.
And now you must get dressed because you are expecting a friend, or a morning phone call, or because you have many things to do: neighbors to visit, errands to run, the blueberries you picked yesterday with your friends should poured as jam into jewel-cut jars, and perhaps there will be time for the wool-hooked rug, the wine-cork board, the landscape painting, but first the book, the walk down to the shore, the weeding in the garden and the afternoon nap, the evening news hour. A day full of work that you love and people you love and the careful care of the place you love. Fill the day from sunrise til dark, at first so you won’t be lonely missing him and then because these tasks help you remember him.
Neither of my grandparents believed in an afterlife, but after so long together, it’s impossible not to imagine that they are somehow together again now.