Early Morning Shadows

The sun started to break out from the sky slowly at first, almost too slowly, and even though I tried to watch the colors break through, I hardly could tell that the sky turned to pink, then orange, and finally to a beautiful red.  I thought it was funny that I couldn’t see this sunrise; it came on suddenly, without even a hint of what was about to happen.  I wanted to see the colors explode into the air, but this sunrise came softly.  It was a gentle surprise to see.
Everything seemed brand new in the mornings; a brand new day was coming and so many people couldn’t even see this new creation being born.  I thought it odd that more people didn’t watch sunrises, or want to be in the crisp Colorado morning more often.
The world was waking from its sleep, and here I was, waking up with it.  I leaned against the old tree overlooking the fields, where cows began to stir and below me I saw the sunrise’s reflection in the pond.  Birds hopped near its edge, and for a moment I thought I saw a squirrel skipping near the water.  I gave the sky a gentle smile and wished that every day could be just like this one…where the world was safe, calm and peaceful.
I looked toward the house, and I thought I heard roosters crowing, but of course I didn’t, because they left years ago, abandoning their roost, and spunky chickens didn’t walk along the barn yard any more.  Still, I thought I heard the stirring of the chickens…maybe they were peaceful little ghosts that still lived here.
But years slip by, and do that to a person.  Thoughts.  Memories.  Grandmother probably wasn’t fixing breakfast yet, either.  Maybe she was fixing something, but it wasn’t like it used to be.  Nevertheless, it felt like it used to be.  This morning was wonderful, no matter what, and I wanted it to last forever.
Then I saw him.  I had been waiting for him and I saw him.  He came up from the timber, probably from nesting among the brush in the timber.  He didn’t see me at first.  His mane caught a breeze and was whipped soft against the sky, and his ears were up.  I knew he liked the morning, too.  Only now he had all of this land to run on, and nothing to keep him from doing what he really wanted to do.
As I walked towards my horse, he saw me and stopped.  I, too, stopped, and for a moment we just looked at each other.  My heart started to swell and I knew that tears were beginning to run down my face.  Good old Charlie; he was still there.
He didn’t run as I approached him.  When I stood next to him I put my arms around him as I used to do.  He was warm and strong.  He let me hug him, just like he used to do and after a few minutes he backed away and just looked at me.  There we stood in the timber…in God’s world full of peace and everything that really meant something to me.  Birds started to fly over the timber and the sun was higher in the sky.
I pulled up a patch of grass and fed it to my old horse.  He munched on it in a contented sort of way, nuzzling me every now and then.
Another horse came from the timber and when he saw us, he started coming our way.  I stood closer to Charlie, wondering what he was going to do.  This morning was for us, I thought, and I held Charlie a bit tighter.  But Charlie wanted to run, he wanted to go.  I wondered if this was what saying good-bye to something meant…loving it enough to let it go, to let it be free, free like a morning like today.
I gave Charlie a final pat and he slowly walked away from me, not quite sure whether to follow me or his friend.  Suddenly, he broke off into a run over the green fields and the two horses ran on together, happy and at peace.
Good old Charlie.
I looked toward the pond again, and then up at the sky.  It was going to be a pretty day.  Maybe I’d ride Charlie later on.  Or maybe I’d just let him enjoy being free.
I started walking toward the farm house.  Dandelions were sparkling with early morning dew and my shoes were wet.  These were the mornings I had remembered, almost like yesterday.
Turning around, I saw Charlie just as he disappeared into the timber again, and then he came out by the apple orchard.  He stopped solid in his tracks and let out a whinny.
A Colorado morning.  A sunrise so gentle, a timber full of memories, and the best horse in the world not far away.  I couldn’t look at him any more.  He was free.  He was gone.
As not every sunrise in the world is ever the same, not every morning would ever be the same.  So I would keep this day tucked away in my memory bank, until it turned yellow with age.
Early morning shadows…they are the best kind.

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