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Writing

Night Owls

Night owls.

Chances are someone in our household is awake.

I am an early riser, usually beginning my day by 2 a.m. My spouse is often still up from the previous day.

Two windows on the southwest side of the house are illuminated once I reach my writing desk, hers above mine. The planet Jupiter is not always hanging above us as in the photo. We are night owls.

Early rising provides a six-hour shift at my desk before the world wakes up. It is the quiet writers need.

Saturday I culled books. I purged duplicates from the stacks to be donated or given to friends, and put some in a reading pile. I spent the most time reading and considering books that were off grid. That is, they didn’t appear on Goodreads or Amazon, and they had no IBSN, a numbering convention that began in 1967. Many books I will consult for my autobiography predate IBSN. Others were printed privately. It’s a different world when we get off the grid.

I put Who Will Do Our Fighting for Us? by George E. Reedy, with an introduction by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, on my desk. The U.S. military, when I enlisted in 1975, was a backdrop for understanding the role of citizen participation in society. The dialectic Reedy explores is between a conscription and a volunteer army. Reedy favored conscription because such soldiers don’t like what they were doing. “That is precisely the reason why they should be preferred,” he wrote.

I participated in the draft lottery and had the number 128 when I was eligible to be called up. That year they called only through 125 so I could finish my undergraduate degree at the university and fulfill my selective service requirement without a student deferment. It turned out I enlisted after the end of the war in Vietnam.

The other off grid book was A Clearing in the Forest by Gayle A. McCoy. It’s a biography of Colonel George Davenport, one of the founders of his namesake city where I was born. I’m more familiar with his business partner Antoine LeClaire. The plan is to write 500-750 word historical/autobiographical sketches of important places in my life and use them to set the scene for autobiography sections. Both founders require further study before getting to the Davenport segment. I put the biography on my bedside table.

It was a decent fall day yet too cold for bicycle riding. I followed my usual walking route to the public boat docks and back, about 2.5 miles. I was the only trail user wearing a face mask. News media reported a run on grocery stores as there was at the beginning of the pandemic. It is getting dire with reports of high levels of infection in nursing homes, care centers, and at the state prisons. In normal times all of this would be scandalous.

On Friday the Carroll Times Herald published a story about family and friends who contracted the coronavirus. It is anchored around friends playing Euchre and how the virus spread among them. “A spreading sickness” is poignant and timely just before Thanksgiving. Link here to read the first of three parts.

I like the photo in this post. Under a clear sky, light shines from rooms where we live quiet lives. We turn inward for a few hours before dawn, focused on our work. We can be ready when the rest of the world wakes up. What we increasingly find is we are not the only night owls during the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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