She woke early, before the sun had risen, but she could tell it was going to. The kind of mostly dark that comes just before the world begins to brighten. She could hear her husband’s deep breathing beside her and gently extricated herself from the blankets, the bed creaking a bit as she rose up. She paused, hoping the creak hadn’t woke him, gratified to find it hadn’t. It wasn’t often she had a morning all to herself.

She walked out of the room, gently tapping her thigh so the dog would follow, and closing the door behind them. She went to the back door and opened it so the dog could go out and relieve himself. She shivered a bit in the chill that morning air, considered wrapping her robe tighter around herself, but opening it instead, enjoying the chill, appreciating the warmth of the house even more.

The dog came back in and she closed the door. The kids must still be asleep, too, and probably would be for another couple of hours. They’d taken to staying up late and talking, laughing for hours rather than go to bed at their appointed bed time. It was fine with her as long as they stayed in their room and got up in time to help with morning chores, which they always managed to do.

Their kitchen wasn’t large or fancy, and she was glad, it was functional. It was perfect. They’d taken out the cutting board that nested above the silverware drawer, the cutting board was too large to be useful and too cheap to be attractive. The whole above the drawer wasn’t exactly easy on the eyes but it made the silverware drawer easily and quietly accessible which she loved. She reached in and grabbed a spoon then opened the cupboard with the coffee grinds and the French press. She measured her coffee in no particular way, a heap was a heap after all, and two heaps were all that was needed for the perfect cup of joy.

Five minutes later, a warm cup between her hands, she walked out to the sun room. It would be planting weather soon and she checked on her starts. She’d had much better success this year, whether because she changed seed companies or because they’d finally had enough years working their compost that it now did the trick. Either way the starts were popping at a record 98% and she was excited at the prospect of being able to sell some in addition to planting their entire crop.

It was still too chilly to water everything, so she sat in her chair, the one her husband had wanted to throw out because it didn’t match anything, but that she quietly secreted to the sun room, confident he’d never miss it and that she’d have the chance to use it at some point. It had become the highlight of her occasional quiet mornings, this lone ugly chair. She never worried about ruining it or sitting in it properly. She’d sometimes sit sideways, legs dangling over the armrest, sometimes legs crossed beneath her as though in meditation. The chair never complained.

She watched as the sky lightened, only a few colors from this perspective, not the full range of a stunning mountain morning. Still she appreciated it, savored the quiet. The chill in the air was almost gone and she suspected today might actually be the best day for planting. She looked over the starts again, smiling, then went back into the house to start breakfast.

They’d had pancakes yesterday, a once a week tradition that they’d started when their first was born and which they’d continued to this day, despite the fact that she and her husband were only mildly pancake people. The boys, on the other hand, loved pancake day and always wanted to pick the fruit each week leading to a mild altercation about who had picked the week before, cries of “nuh uh,” and “but I don’t even like blueberries,” abounded meant to prove their case.

Today she thought she’d make eggs, poached. Some bacon, no, they’d had that with pancakes, her secret indulgence the smearing of the bacon in the leftover syrup, heaven. Sausage then. And hashbrowns, they had some potatoes she needed to use before they started to get soft. She checked the fridge to be sure they had spinach and ketchup, too, which they did. Good. She’d have spinach with her breakfast instead of sausage and the boys wouldn’t touch hashbrowns without ketchup, so the plan was a go.

She began scrubbing the potatoes. She considered peeling them but since these were organic and from their own garden she left them on, a few extra vitamins and minerals would be good for the boys and smothered under ketchup they’d never notice anyway. She got out the grater and went to work, humming low some nameless thing that came to her sometimes when cooking. The potatoes ready for the pan, she got out the egg carton and noticed it was a bit light. Looking inside she saw not the dozen she knew she should have but one. Someone hadn’t done chores yesterday.

She sighed and went to the mudroom, stepping into her muck boots and grabbing the egg basket from the hook. She walked out toward the coop, still humming, her robe now loose and billowing about her. She looked in the chicken run on her way towards the nesting boxes and saw all as it should be. The hens clucked at her, hoping she’d brought some kitchen treats and the amiable rooster, Emmett, whom she’d fallen in love with, the only rooster she’d never had to take a stick to, puffed up his chest and fluffed his wings at her. She was convinced he was in love with her, too.

Walking to the nesting boxes she lifted the lid only to find several pairs of eyes pop open and stare accusingly at her. All four boxes were full of hens and one box even had two girls in it. “Oh come now,” she said, exasperated. Her least favorite hen, the old biddy who went broody every time an egg was laid was sitting to the far right. She reached over, scooped her up and off the nest, and placed her on the ground. The raucous she put up would make someone think she’d been beaten within an inch of her life rather than picked up and set down. “Really?” she said aloud, before grabbing at the pile of eggs and dropping them two at a time into her basket.

She emptied the nest, fourteen eggs, closed the lid, and walked back to the house.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

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