Nature Meditation #4 – Thoreau on ‘Morning Air’

“…let me have a draught of undiluted morning air! Morning air! If men will not drink of this at the fountain-head of the day, why, then, we must even bottle up some and sell it in the shops, for the benefit of those who have lost their subscription ticket to morning time in this world.” Henry David Thoreau, from Walden – 5. Solitude.

Ah, morning. There’s nothing like the freshness in the air and the amazing light as it spills over the eastern horizon and reaches across the sky. Birds flutter and twitter, and deer graze in the peaceful dawn.

During his time at Walden Pond, Thoreau found out how precious those early morning hours are as the world wakens.

At the time he lived, people hurried through the day much like we do. There were chores to do, and work to get to, and hardly a minute of quiet time. But both before and after the duties and chores were done, it was QUIET.  A hundred years ago, the sounds of the natural world surrounded everyone when they sat still.

Today there are televisions blarring, phones ringing and all kinds of electronic gadgets to keep us from experiencing solitude no matter what time of day it is. It’s as if being alone without the company of noise makes us uncomfortable. Like QUIET  – whether in the morning or the evening – hurts our ears!

There are larks (morning people) and owls (late nighters). I don’t know if a person can change which one he/she is, but if you are an owl, it could be worth living the life of a lark occasionally to experience the morning air!

It took me a while to realize that I was a lark. I grumbled my way through early morning time when I had to get up for school, and then for college classes. I dreaded the 8 a.m. classes and slept as late as I could on weekends.
After college, when I lived alone for a time, I was astounded – and confused – when I woke up early on weekends even though I didn’t have to. And then, there was some sort of transformation when I discovered that I looked forward to the morning time and watching the sun come up. I began to love the quiet morning, with coffee by a window, or a bowl of cereal on the patio. 

Then, life intervened. Due to my work schedule morning became very rushed. I showered,  dressed and drove to work, often getting to the office before the sun came up during the late fall and winter months. I found that I longed to have my mornings again. I missed the quiet, the light, the scent and the look of the fresh morning.

Now, morning is my favorite time of the day. I especially love it when I wake up before the sun comes up, and find my morning spot in time to watch and listen as the day begins.

And I agree with Thoreau. If I could bottle up the very sensation of morning, it would be both a popular gift and a staple at the grocery store. And I would be a millionaire many times over.

(Note: The Solitude chapter is my Walden favorite. Thoreau is so passionate about the good that it does to be outside in nature, particularly if you are alone. I’ll focus on it in Monday Meditations many more times.)

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