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An awakening, just in time for Thanksgiving

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November 25, 2013 | 10:35 AM
I heard voices.

It was 6 a.m. last Wednesday and WTMJ-AM was my alarm clock.

I’ve grown to appreciate its folksy manner and find comfort in its cheesy ads.

The regularity of the ordinary.

I followed my usual ritual and walked to the front of my apartment, turned up the furnace, crossed through the kitchen and hit the button to start the coffee brewing.

I fully intended to go back to bed, as is my custom at that time of day.

But as I strode past the picture window in my living room I noticed an orange-slice sliver of light on the horizon.

I like to say that my apartment has the best view in Lake Geneva off the water.

It opens to a cornfield, due north of the middle school, due west of the sunrise.

Now, of course, the corn is gone. Gone, too, are the leaves from the trees that front my window. But now I can see the sun rise.

I grabbed my laptop and sat down on the couch next to the window and had the following email exchange with my girlfriend 20 miles to the east.

“I beat ya!” I wrote.

We like to brag about who emails first — the type of silly game you come up with to avoid the tediousness of a simple “good morning.”

“Damn! I was up at 6:07,” she emailed me back. “Takes me longer to shower and get ready. Thought u might sleep in, papers done, right?”

“I thought I might too but got up to turn on coffee and saw a wonderful sunrise,” I replied. “Glad we both get entranced by such things. A continual and very simple life recharger. Enchantment, a great and inexpensive elixir.”

That reminded me of another moment I’d read about years earlier.

It described another window, another sunrise, and the death of Ernest Hemingway.

I scoured my bookshelf for the quote.

Finally, I found it.

From a book called “Ernest Hemingway: A Life,” written by Carlos Baker.

I never forgot the reference to Hemingway’s last moments in Ketchum, Idaho, where he and his wife had rented a house during the last years of his life. Hemingway would wake up early and write using a typewriter in front of a window with a view of the Boulder Mountains. Until the day when he didn’t anymore.

“Sunday morning dawned bright and cloudless,” Baker wrote. “Ernest woke early as always ... and padded softly down the carpeted stairway. The early sunlight lay in pools on the living room floor.”

Earlier in the book, Baker noted that Hemingway “could be thrown into a slump by weather that was cold and damp or hot and sticky. He could be lifted from the depths by early morning, the time of sunset, breezy sunlight, crisp cold, hills and mountains and the sea.”

But Baker wrote that on that morning, as Hemingway walked past the window, “if he saw the bright day outside, it did not deter him.”

The rest is history. Hemingway shot himself that day. A day when he was not roused by the early morning, the breezy sunlight.

No, this is not a column about suicide. That’s a lot more complicated than a sunrise.

It’s about awareness, thankfulness and glee — death’s polar opposites.

I was glad I stopped last Wednesday morning. Caught myself from going back to bed, to slumber, to unawareness.

Seeing that slice of orange across the morning sky never ceases to waken me to awe. I ought never to forget that, or forget to notice.

As Thanksgiving nudged closer I had struggled with what to write to mark that holiday.

I found it outside my own window that morning — the one with the best view in town off the water.

Halverson is editor and general manager of the Regional News.


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