Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mornings at the Ridge

I am not a morning person. In the days BB, (Before Baby) I would wake up between 8:30 and 9am, stumble out of bed, turn on my laptop, then wander into the kitchen for a bowl of cereal or toast to munch on while checking my email. The only time I'd look out the window would be to see what the weather was like so I could plan what to wear to work later in the day.

These days I'm awakened at what feels like the crack of dawn (but in reality is closer to 7am) by my 8 month old son, Little A. He rolls over, sits up, and looks at the window. If there is light filtering though the cracks in the blinds, he knows it's time to get up. He's a considerate baby; if it's still dark he lies back down and tries valiantly to get back to sleep. This usually involves a lot of rolling around the bed and frustrated baby noises and if he has no success, he crawls over to me for some milk. But 7am, or 8am (if I'm lucky) is official wake-up time.

After his breakfast, we go for a stroll around the concrete common area shared by the two buildings that make up our condominium complex. Mornings are cool and crisp, with no hint of the oppressive heat that is sure to come later. After observing the pool man and gardener at work, we go in search of other friends. There are the occasional other children and their nannies, but more interesting to my son are the grownups we come across from time to time.

There is Tai Chi Man, an elderly Chinese (?) gentleman who is wiry and white-haired and moves with the grace of a ballerina as he does the morning exercises that call to mind green grass and the parks of Hong Kong. Once done, he walks over to a paper bag on the ground, pulls out a state-of-the-art digital SLR camera and proceeds to photograph the birds and the trees on the golf course next door. Truly a mix of the old and the new.

Fitness Man is another elderly gentleman who begins his day walking around and around the concrete podium area. Dressed in navy track pants, running shoes and an immaculately pressed sport shirt, he walks up to the swimming pool when he is done. Off come the trousers, shoes and shirt, all of which are laid neatly on a chair. Underneath he wears black cycling shorts. From a small backpack he takes out a pair of swim goggles, puts them on and gets into the pool. He does a number of laps and then gets out, dries himself off with a small towel and gets dressed.

Complete strangers are quick to make friends with a curious baby. Tai Chi Man loves to hold my son, and has taken several photos of him with his high-tech camera. Fitness Man splashes him from the swimming pool and talks seriously to him about the importance of regular exercise. The gardener and pool man are always ready to make him smile.

What I enjoy most though, is the fresh morning air and the sight of blue skies, white clouds and birds flying overhead. Mornings are full of promise, and I never learned to appreciate them before. Everything looks clean and new. Thanks to the inevitable changes that life with a baby brings, gone are the days when I stumbled blearily out of bed in search of caffeine. I now look forward to these morning walks as much as he does.

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