One morning last summer, when there was no snow, and a friendlier sun, I awoke early and thought about what was around me. It was not the drab beige life of minivans and soccer moms. The Midwest has more than that to love, but can be missed if we forget to see the life we live for what it is.
Nothing about the scene is unusual. Its usuality, in fact, is the thrill. In the usual is sometimes the most beautiful thing. The morning is the morning for all of us. Some are up already, coming home from work, or, like me, just starting the day.
While I lived in the heart of a major metropolitan city's suburbs, what I hear, what I see outside my window is found everywhere in the Midwest. When I lived in central Illinois, in a small city surrounded by farms, I awoke to the same sounds. Those days, before I owned a computer and when I worked in jobs that required me to arrive at 6:00 am, I would drive close to where I needed to be, and sit in a cafe surrounded by men who met there each morning. I was never one of them. Too young, too college to fit in. They never rejected me; I thought I was too different. I missed what these men knew: before the world is fully moving, there is a time to connect with good friends.
In my 20s, I had a mix of love and hate for the small town. I loved the Norman Rockwell aspect, but disdain what I thought was small minded living. I could only see the cliches and felt confined by the stereotypes. Academic, liberal, and big city was how I envisioned myself. Instead, the small mind was my own. What I did not know was the depth of discussion about farming issues. Farms are big business, but all I imagined was a guy with a hoe. The job didn't need a suit, but this did not mean the men were not well-read in current issues or classic topics.
The men, or their sons and daughters, are meeting somewhere just outside of Bloomington in the morning today. Maybe in Downs, or Hudson, or Towanda, but life is happening just as real as the suburbs and the city.
The morning is great for writing. I am high energy, and still gearing up as the day grows older. Coffee speeds things up, but mostly, when I wake, I am awake. Crash and burn. All the way awake, or all the way asleep. Little middle ground. The dawn is the closest I find to the peace of steady thought.
I think, now, in the afternoon as I finish this post, I will pour another cup of coffee, and think about the morning. There is little new to say about the morning and I like that.