Warm November day. A cat slides a tawny shoulder across my hip as I sit on my front stoop. Her eyes tilt up and she offer her chin for a scratch. Her whiskers stretch forward, directing my fingers. I absently knead her fur and listen to her melodic purring.
The sun is bright - I try to let my eyes open and absorb the energy, but I find myself squinting and blinking. I can feel the warmth against my face. A flash memory of the beach flits across my mind and I allow my eyes to close for a long instant. I can hear the waves. I can see my children kneeling in the sand, focused so intently on their sand sculptures.
A mug of coffee is cradled on my knees and the aroma of dark-roasted beans brings me back to the present. I breathe deeply, enjoying my morning ritual. Steps, coffee, cat, sunshine.
The last of the Maple leaves have fallen from the trees, but the bright yellow Oak and deeply-crimson Japanese Maple cast a dazzling glow across the yard. I marvel at the verdant green grass, freshly-mowed and looking almost perfect. I am thankful for the rain we have received that made all the hard work aerating, seeding and fertilizing pay off. The lawn is ready for another year of rollicking wear and tear, a million kicks and throws, and tumbling bodies.
Sloth cat nudges me once, twice and then sits primly by my side, knowing that she has lost my immediate attention. We sit side by side and survey our realm. I sip my coffee.
The bricks are cold beneath my boxers. The wind stirs in the Willow branches. A hand brushes lightly against my shoulder, small fingers tapping gently.
'Do you need more coffee, dad?'
'No thank you.'
'Okay.' The hand lingers for a moment. 'Nice day.'
'Very.' My daughter walks back inside.
I smile and let the moment linger in my brain for a few precious seconds, hopefully long enough to imprint, to remember, to hold forever in my mind. I know that in a few minutes I will have enough caffeinne in my bloodstream, enough sun against my skin to fully awaken and then my mind will kick into overdrive and start rattling off lists of things to do and my voice will ring through the house and we will be Going and Doing and Moving and Creating and whoosh our day will start.
But for these last few seconds I am aware of the simplest things, the beauty of my front yard, the soft fur of my cat, the smell of good coffee, the sound of the wind in my trees. And I am deeply, eternally grateful for the presence of my children in the house behind me.