I spent last night away from home as I was undergoing a sleep study. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the experience of trying to sleep in unfamiliar surroundings with a couple dozen wires glued to your face, head, and body, but it’s not exactly a recipe for relaxation. I was also wearing a sleep apnea mask for the first time, which was a bit tricky to get used to. Add a rather loud thunderstorm and some lingering hip pain (is that you, middle age? It’s me, Kristine, and I’m totally fine if you want to leave me alone for a while…), and sleep seemed like an impossible challenge.
I must have found my way to dreamland eventually, because the sleep technician reported that I completed a REM cycle. That may explain why I left the hospital at 5:30 a.m. feeling much perkier than I had any right to expect. As I traveled homeward the sky began to shed the darkness of night. Glorious shades of pink and orange replaced the muted greys of early dawn, prompting me to stop at Woodcock Dam so that I might better appreciate the sunrise.
The air was cool and crisp, thanks to the aforementioned thunderstorm which had cut the humidity and ushered in a cold front. The acrid smell of the bug spray I spritzed on before setting out on my walk mingled with the scents of wet grass and lake algae, reminding me of camping trips from my youth.
With every passing second the sky changed from lavender to pink to orange, as the clouds swirled a palette of colors across the sky.
By the time I reached the far side of the dam, a fiery ball was lifting over the horizon, casting a shimmery glow over the placid waters.
I greeted a few walkers and one grimly determined jogger as I retraced my steps over the dam. From across the field of pale wildflowers, the crowing of a rooster echoed above the constant twittering of early morning songbirds. In the distance a dog barked a warning to an unseen trespasser.
By the end of my walk, the sun had sailed well above the horizon. The parking lot, mostly empty at my arrival, was now peppered with vehicles, with more rolling in as I buckled myself into the driver’s seat. Invigorated, I turned my wheels homeward, feeling surprisingly alert and eager to start my day.
Only ten minutes later my tires were crunching across the gravel of my own driveway. I smiled at Gertie’s furry face peering out the window of the back door. She greeted me with effusive tail wagging and small leaps of excitement. I crept into the bedroom to let Brian know I had arrived home. He rolled over to offer me a very sleepy “I love you” and a warm kiss before returning to his morning slumber.
I fed Gertrude her breakfast and set a pot of coffee to brewing. Within minutes I was comfortably settled in my favorite chair, a hot cup of coffee in hand, and a happy canine settled at my feet.
It is so good to come home, I thought, and I offered a silent prayer of thanks for my many blessings.
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.
– John Howard Payne; Home, Sweet Home