Morning Walk

Babette walking point.

Babette walking point.

Inexplicably, I woke up at 4:20 a.m. today – wide-awake and ready-to-go.  Morning is my least favorite time of day; I never wake up ready for anything other than coffee; and 4:20 a.m. is traditionally nothing but painful.  I have to admit that ready-to-go with nowhere-to-go can be quite pleasing.  Choosing what to do is much nicer than trudging out of bed with the day’s agenda already set.


I went through a pot of coffee and watched my patio go from lamp-lit, newly-fallen snow to dawn-lit snow.  The urge to grab the camera, a puppy, a coat and boots was irresistible.  I’ve long wanted to get photos of the old barn in the snow – not having to work today made it an especially good day to accomplish that goal as did the unusual circumstance of being alert in the dreamscape of a cloudy dawn on new-fallen snow.


Babette, the grande dame of the three puppies, was chosen.  I figured her heavy coat would protect her from the cold.  She’s a sweet little thing that rarely gets her fair share of attention, because the other two puppies are far more demanding.  I’m sure Babette thinks of them as incorrigible and obnoxious brats, which is a pretty fair analysis.


Babette and I headed out.  She headed down the road to my parents’ house and was quite confused when I called her back.  She then assumed we were getting in the car and waited patiently for me by the driver’s door.  I confused her again when I headed to the back of the house, but she readily joined me.

Old Barn

Old Barn


We visit the old barn now and again during the other seasons; but usually when I think to do it in the winter I’ve picked a day when it’s too icy, too muddy, or  too cold.  As soon as Babette figured out where we were going, she ran out front to protect me from marauding deer, renegade squirrels and the assorted wildlife residing in my little piece of the world.  She’s little, but she’s feisty.  If not for me, she’d be the alpha bitch of our pack.


We didn’t see any critters other than some soaring hawks.  The new snow wasn’t heavy enough to wrap us in that delicious silence of heavy snow, but it was so early that we were treated to a landscape still hushed by the moon.



Morning Moon

The old barn used to be accompanied by a small house.  Both were abandoned more than forty years ago.  The house burnt to the ground shortly after I moved here; and the ensuing decades have obliterated all signs of it.  Wild rose, grapevine, oak saplings, and shrub pine have taken its place. 


A few years ago, my dad was finally able to buy the land the barn occupies.  He tells me the barn is unsafe and needs to be torn down, but I don’t think he wants it gone anymore than I do. It has beautiful lines even as those lines move more and more towards the ground they used to rise above.  In this morning’s light, the weathered barn board, gray dawn, and white snow were soul soothing.   I’m no photographer and my camera is a relatively simple point and shoot, so I wasn’t able to capture the magic of it all.  Except for some flashes of color here and there, it was like falling into a black & white photo of a love affair with time. 


Another saggy grande dame.

Another saggy grande dame.

Babette and I continued our walk.  We found the lower pond frozen except for one small part.  We found tree stumps disappearing with the days and barbed wire merging with the thorns and brambles of wild plants left wild.  She and I peered very closely at things.  She because cataracts are forming and focus is getting hard; me because focus is always hard – my aging eyes having nothing to do with it.


Yesterday, I was sharing my favorite Youtube videos of West Virginia with some folks.  I commented at the time that sometimes I forget how much I love this place until I look at some of the images.  This morning had a similar effect.  This time of year, I don’t spend a lot of time outside; and I tend to forget that winter brings its own charms to both my landscape and my soul.  I may have to invest in heavy gear to keep my always-cold self comfortable.  I thoroughly enjoyed my walk.


Babette is curled up on her favorite pillow, deep in sleep.  Naps on lazy winter days are a hobby of mine.  It’s time for one, I think.  I have, after all, been up since 4:20 a.m.

9 thoughts on “Morning Walk

  1. So beautiful -both the pictures and your writing.

    I miss mornings in the countryside and those kind of walks. Not enough to leave my city home, but enough to be mesmerized by yours.

  2. “it was like falling into a black & white photo of a love affair with time” What absolutely spectacular imagery! Thank you for taking the time to share such beauty and even more so, the sense of continuation. Sometimes we seem to be on the brink, at the edge, and it’s incredibly reassuring to be reminded of time still marching on…

  3. Hey Jim!

    Matewan is a favorite, though as a (lazy) Appalachian scholar I’m obliged to point out that it relies on stereotypes and other mistruths to tell the story.

    I’m not familiar with the memoir you mentioned, but I love Huey Perry’s “They’ll Cut Off Your Project” – a book about his experience trying to run War on Poverty programs in Mingo County.


  4. On the stereotypes that you mention about Matewan, would you be referring to “social isolation?”
    Loved the pictures and the writings on the walk. Reminded me of all the reasons that Appalachia is in my heart and will forever hold me.

  5. Ah, yes, Jesse Stuart is a Kentucky treasure. It’s been a long time since I’ve read any of his stuff – I’ll have to drag some of it out.

    Marion is a fair bit up the road from me and I don’t have much call to go there. I’m not familiar with Eric Flint, but now I’ll have to check it out.

    Denise Giardina’s two novels Storming Heaven and The Unquiet Earth are my Appalachian literature must-reads. If you don’t mind learning some history while you read, they’re well-written, great stories.


  6. Thx. I’ll put those 2 on my list.

    I enjoyed Rocket Boys/October Sky, movie and book (author Homer Hickam — the actor playing the dad is the Union organizer from Matewan) but some of the later Coalwood books got a little…preachy.

    I think the Eric Flint books (1632, et al) are a “guilty pleasure” — he’s not that great a writer.

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