There are many reasons why A. and I have made it to our 12th wedding anniversary unscathed.
A lot of it is down to her patience, charitable nature and desire to see good in everyone, which has meant that I have so far managed not to balls things up too greatly over time; managed to find the right words to cancel out the wrong ones when needed.
There is also the fact that we are in rhythm with each other. Happily, so.
I am no more aware of this than whilst reading Allan Jenkins’ ‘Morning: How to make time: A manifesto’.
I bought ‘Morning’ as I had an idea that I liked being up and out of the house, on a walk – with only a podcast and the local woods to keep me company – at a time when the streets are empty and the paths clear of nothing more than a marauding squirrel darting through the dappled light of the canopy.
I would fill my lungs; clear or replace the fug in my head with clarity of thought or knowledge gained from the podcasts I listened to – picking up Heart Points as I followed the loop from our house through the trees.
So I followed the guidance of the book. To bed early, to rise with the sun and the breaking of the day and I, I… I laid in bed and watched the minutes tick past. I waited for A. to come to bed. I waited patiently for my brain to reboot – to go in to sleep mode. I waited for the first yawn, but the second never came. A. came to bed. She would check her phone one last time and then her head would hit the pillow and she would be gone.
I would still be on.
I tried it again the next night and the next. The same thing happened. My lofty ambitions of becoming a lark were cursed by my mind finding new ways to splutter back into life; coughing up ideas and thoughts that I would sketch out when all I wanted to do was sleep.
My love of the mornings was a myth. My thirst for the night, all too strong.
It changed slightly at weekends. No longer a slave to the alarm, I would naturally wake up, refreshed and alive – no more than 30 minutes later than a time I would be reaching for the snooze button during the week. I would get up, get out and find that peace – but I would be far from alone. The many weekend walkers, joggers and late night stragglers were there to join me.
I realised I am an owl.
We are both owls. A. and me. Spreading our wings to hold each other, to protect our family, to gather – to rise – not before the world is awake, but long after most of it has gone to sleep. I am not a lark. A. is not a lark. We are owls, nightclub owls. Both as one and alive with how we nest together – raise our family together – our own little owls.
As we fight to get the children to bed before 8.30pm most nights, irrespective of what they have done that day – it’s plain to see our rhythm is that of creatures of the night.
There are many things I would like to share with Allan Jenkins. His captivating way with words (the book is a joy to read and I was grateful for the added detail in ‘February’ as it drew to close); the spitting, crackling Danish fires; his ability to identify one bird song from another – even the time he spends on Plot 29. However, when it comes to how we both start our days, it is clear from reading that book that I would be one of the late night lights going out around him as he is filling that first pot of tea. My nightcap bookending his camomile.
For this is who I am. Up with the owl!
Image: A sound panel that plays the Blackbird’s song at RHS Harlow Carr