TGIF: As temperatures soar, I think of mornings missed

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Gene Deason

One of the retirement perks I’ve granted myself is permission to enjoy leisurely mornings, which typically don’t feature the ringing of an alarm clock. Unless, of course, there’s an appointment to keep.

Being ready for school or for work by 8 a.m. — if not before — is standard procedure for most folks, and that was indeed the schedule for much of my newspaper career. In fact, when the Bulletin published a weekday afternoon edition, my workday often began at 6 in the morning. Please don’t debate me on this, because it’s how I managed to cope. I reasoned that, for me at least, it’s just as difficult to wake up at 8 a.m. as it is to wake up at 5 a.m.

These days, my mornings are usually underway by the 8 o’clock hour, but the pace is much more relaxed. Coffee comes first, but breakfast can wait until mid-morning. I’ll tackle outside chores before noon, and then get dressed in time for a mid-afternoon lunch.

This routine has been altered in recent days. Let’s blame the nomadic feline, Rover, who’s been mentioned in this space on previous Fridays. Rover now expects breakfast around 7 each morning, and I’ve been happy to comply.

I’m never confident that Rover will be waiting at the front door. He arrived in our neighborhood without warning and has become increasingly friendly with us. But he disappeared after breakfast on Tuesday and was nowhere to be found until twilight that evening. That’s when he appeared at our front door, ready for supper. He’s a juvenile tomcat, after all, but his wandering days will be over if we can only catch him. We hope.

The two hours after Rover’s breakfast have become an enjoyable way to start the day. He’s an eager eater, and morning is when he’s most agreeable to being touched by human hands. Then unexpectedly, he’s off to chase bugs. Soon, he comes back for more attention. In between, I sip my cup of coffee and read.

I had forgotten how pleasant the early morning hours can be in the summer.

After a wet spring, June and July were “cooler” than normal. Unfortunately, “cooler” here means less hot. Rainfall in recent weeks hasn’t been as generous. August was hotter, but 100-plus readings were rare.

September isn’t bringing relief — yet. Schools have opened and football has kicked off, but the weather doesn’t appear to be following the autumnal script. Thankfully, those of us in Central Texas still have our early mornings to offset these hot summer afternoons.

I had forgotten what I was missing by sleeping through the hours before and after sunrise in the summer, or by staying inside on days when I was awake. Even when I get out and about in the mornings, I’m often busy with yard work or some other project, which doesn’t allow me any quiet moments to pause, reflect, and bask in God’s creation.

While sitting outside with the sun coming up and the temperature approaching its daily low, I’ve been able to soak in some simple but significant things. It reminded me of summers as I child, when I was eager to get outside in the brisk early mornings to play. Such memories.

A school bus rounded a corner in the next block. It’s been decades, but I still remember getting up that early to catch “Old Yellow.”

The City of Brownwood, whose employees work around the clock anyway, was already busy. A sanitation truck drove its route. A solid waste collection vehicle was fulfilling its work orders. A police officer provided an assuring drive-by.

The siren of an ambulance several blocks away drowned out the birds’ singing. A quick prayer was lifted for the person EMTs were rushing to the hospital.

The Brownwood High marching band was heard in the distance, rehearsing for this week’s halftime show. The dedication shown by students involved in athletics, band, and other extracurriculars is inspiring.

Automatic sprinklers sputtered to life in various yards, watered for several minutes, and quit.

People walked their dogs. Others were jogging or running. Indeed, this is the ideal time for such activity. I should take a hint, but I’m on cat duty right now.

The sun rose higher in the sky and sunrays started to peak through the trees, which offer the cat and me shade until after 9. Long before then, my wife will have joined us.

Pretty soon, it will be time for Rover and me to find some place cooler to sit. Perhaps we’ll both take a nap.

It’s September. Autumn is just around the corner.

Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column “TGIF” appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at