My husband’s ideal wake-up time is 4:30am, but since I’m not coherent then, we usually compromise on a somewhat later start. During his hunting season, though, the days started more to his liking. I’ve learned to have a routine I can follow until my brain turns on, so with those early starts I was able to be outside for first feeding between dawn and sunrise.
As it turned out, I came to enjoy starting to fill feed buckets while it was still dark. By the time I started distributing the buckets, forms such as fences and ponies began to appear from the darkness. I enjoyed watching how quickly darkness gave way to light, and how sunrise was delayed by the mass of Gould Mountain to the east so that I had more dawn before sunrise.
Sometimes I had other sources of light than the rising sun to illuminate my chores. The moon was just past full so very bright, and I had the weird experience of having a shadow on the wrong side of my body. On a few days, we had fresh snow which is a great help in picking ponies out from their surroundings, especially black ones.
The passage of time was fascinating: how suddenly I could see things where I couldn’t a minute before, how long the period between first light and sunrise turned out to be. Some mornings I actually finished all my chores just in time to greet the first rays of sunlight shooting through the trees to the east. It was a nice feeling to be going inside for my own breakfast then, knowing my pony friends all had theirs in front of them.
Other times of year the transition between dawn and sunrise is faster. As a result I came to savor this inaugural period of mid-autumn days. Yet another gift from sharing my life with ponies.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2016
More stories like this one can be found in What an Honor: A Dozen Years with Fell Ponies, available internationally by clicking on the title or cover.