Everyday after I have made the coffee, checked email, listened to the news on NPR, scanned the NYT, finished the coffee and made it outside, I wake up. A series of mostly gentle but persistent nudges and pokes pressing the buttons of each of my senses, brings me fully into the day.

Here it is in little snapshots.

1) walking from the apartment to the barn:
The sun is still soft and the cool rising from the pond the primary sensation on the air.
I can hear a dog barking, invisible birds seem to be everywhere noisily heralding my arrival. My hat is a little tight on my brow.

2) arriving at the barn:
Horses in their individual ways waiting patiently or im-. Banging their plastic bins, tapping the metal rails, walking briskly up and down or just standing, fixed on my every movement.
The hayshed smells a little mousy today but the alfalfa, when I break the flakes apart, is sweet.
Little prickles grab into my palms.
The hay-loaded cart is very heavy and bumps over the lip of the shed floor into the yard.

3) feeding:
The key sticks in the padlock, making the gate rattle.
The sun is warm on my neck.
The combination of horse feet and mine in the dry dirt kicks up dust which floats over me, resting on my face and lips. It is dry and surprisingly sweet.
There is a very visible crow sitting on top of a the highest rail, two yards down, mocking my work with, I think, more of a kindly than evil eye.
Run my eyes briefly over each horse as I toss the feed in the bin.
Stop, place my hands on them if there is something to explore, or a connection to make.

4) waters:
Dragging the hose with its many small leaks and sprays, tendency to hook on the tufts of weedy shrubs, and muddy splashings as it is dragged from water trough to water trough, brings me completely awake.
The invisible birds seem to be here now – still singing and chirruping. And every now and again I spot one on the power wire, or on the top of cat’s claw tree. (I stand still so that I really see those ones.)
Rinse muddy hands in a trough, wipe wet hands on a nearby horse or my jeans.

5) cleaning the yards:
Not a lot to add here except that the rake, the wheelbarrow, and the horse-poo together create their own assault on the senses. Smell the sourness, shake the dirt through the rake before I toss the poo in the barrow, heft the barrow when it is full, push against the weight, the rough wooden handles exactly the right size, try not to lick my lips. My hat is loose and wet on my brow. The sun is now barely filtered by the last of that beautiful morning air.

Ah, and an opportunity to practice meditation, staying in the moment. Focus on the task, all my senses fully engaged. Let thinking pass on, the stream of awareness keep moving. What is to be recalled will stay. Not always successful, but everyday time to practice.

6) back to the apartment:
Fully awake. No stiffness. The light is bright and strong. Seeing little lizards, smelling the mud on the edges of the pond, and hearing everything. Old coffee and new dust in my mouth. A tiny pebble in my shoe. The top of the canyon rim, permanent and forever,  stands way above this little finger of flatness. My place in the universe, another in a line of people who have walked along this creek beneath these ancient hills.

Yes, fully awake and fully present in this day.