My favorite times are the quiet mornings, before she is awake, when the van is still cozy with the lingering warmth of body heat and slumber. I slowly come away from dreamland, back into consciousness, back into my body, and remember the magic of falling asleep surrounded by beauty the night before. My body floods with gratitude for our safety and the cozy bed in which I have awakened, and I spend a suspended moment in stillness, in this moment before I admit to, and act upon, being fully awake.
I crawl quietly out from under our giant knitted blanket in a practiced choreography that hopes to create the least amount of disruption possible, creak the side door open just a crack, enough to fit my body through – keeping warm air sacred inside – and feel the morning dew on my feet as I relieve my bladder, taking in the beautiful land around us that has been our host for the past star-lit night. Deep belly breaths of fresh, crisp air, the sun’s morning stretches of light trickling through their own giant knitted blankets of cloud. I turn my face to the sky.
I tip-toe back inside and retrieve our two-burner from its place above the butterflies. Each movement creating sound waves greater than the silence at dawn, each performed with intention and care. The pot, in the sink from last night’s tea water, is filled from our small, but sufficient, water supply. Filled carefully, intentionally, with the exact amount of water for two cups of coffee. Not wanting to waste any. Staying close by, quietly listening as the water comes to a boil, listening for the change in the bubbles so it doesn’t boil too long – propane to fuel this morning gift is in minimal supply these days on the island.
Quiet, except for the gentle bubbling of the water and the soft breathing of the sleeping woman beside me, I pour fresh grinds into our French press and sit in stillness. I close my eyes. I wait.
Slowly, the sound from the pot quickens and changes, and I turn the propane off. Removing the lid from the pot sends the water’s steamy breath out into the space, and for a moment I welcome the heat on my face. I pour hot water over dry coffee, fill the glass to the top, cover it. Sacred creation of heat.
Retrieving our mugs from their hooks over the sink, I fill the bottom of each with creamy oat milk from our cooler, and again, I wait.
A few meditative minutes pass untimed, until I feel she’s steeped and rich, the abundance of flavors from this particular local blend we found on the last island soaked, brought to life and savored by the boil, until the aroma of an earthy dark roast begins to seep through the nozzle, and then I press down. I creek the van’s side door open once again, offering the first sip of this frothy black potion first to the earth we have slept on – an indigenous tradition offered in the writings of Robin Wall Kimmerer – and then I pour two steaming cups of coffee.
I crawl back into bed, back under the big yellow blanket, tuck my chilly toes under Emma’s still warm body, and sip quietly as I read about love. Emma’s eyes gently flicker open, she smiles up at me.
– Mornings in Vannigan
Taylor Neal is a Canadian multi-disciplinary artist, writer, yoga instructor and women’s advocacy support worker, Taylor strives to gain deeper understandings of the endless complexity that is human experience, through translating life into the realm of the tangible via art both verbal and visual. Practically, Taylor combines their background in dance and performance, their passion for the written word, and their curiosity within contemporary visual art and photography, with their studies in Communications, Art History, Feminist Theory, Design for Theatre and Fashion Design. Their cumulative artistic, somatic, and literary practice comes together as a holistic exploration of identity, movement, sexuality, and how the embodied subject navigates space and the natural world.