At 6:00 a.m. the alarm rings. I am a morning person so I don’t feel the anguish that night owls understandably feel. Nevertheless, our wood heated house is chilly and it takes a moment to summon the courage to pull off the covers. I roll out of bed, pray, dress, and start to do the chores. I stir the bright orange coals in the wood stove and stoke it with logs for the day’s heat. They burst into flames. I set the air intake and damper.
Dixie, our “Antietam Glen Frisbee Retriever”, anxiously meets me at the door with the Frisbee in her mouth. But she will have to wait until after I feed the animals. I throw on my tattered, muddied and bloodied LL Bean field coat, Muck boots, and work gloves. Outside it is dark. The frigid air stings my face but it’s invigorating. The horses snort and stomp when they hear me coming. As I walk down to the barn, the waning gibbous moon shining on the snow lights my path so I put my flashlight in my pocket. In the feed room, I put two scoops of pellets and a scoop of hay cubes in bucket for Peaches, our old Hackney pony. Rebel, our Appaloosa, is an easy keeper so he just gets a bale of hay. I fill the barn cat’s dish full of food. The watering trough is still ½ full so I head for the chicken coop. Our new flock of layers seem perturbed when I interrupt their roosting but they take interest when I empty a bucket of table scraps and top off their feed and water. They are not laying eggs yet. We are in one of those rare intervals when we are eating store bought eggs.
I look up at the house and see lights click on as LeAnn and the boys are getting up. The sky starts to lighten a bit so now it is time for Dixie. She is rewarded one piece of dog biscuit from my pocket after each Frisbee retrieval. But more often than not she gets two pieces for a catch in mid-air. After ten minutes and two dozen throws, she tires and I head for the house and a cup of hot chocolate.
I open the door and the heat from the wood stove is a welcome relief. The aroma of bacon and eggs, complements of LeAnn, fires up my metabolism. Mark, our highschooler, and Nathan, our middleschooler, smell breakfast and clomp down the stairs from their bedrooms. The front door bursts open as six other rambunctious highschoolers arrive for breakfast and early morning seminary. We all chat through breakfast and then head down to the basement family room for religious studies that LeAnn and I facilitate each weekday morning.
I love this morning crescendo of rituals.
Why am I not a good father and teach Mark and Nathan the discipline to do the morning chores? I enjoy the chores too much to give up. But I am not worried. My four older children rarely did early morning chores (that’s not what they remember) and all turned out motivated and ambitious.
What enjoyment do you get from your winter morning rituals?