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The Most Meaningful Moment of My Day

From early morning to the last hours of the evening: 12 writers share the times they treasure most.

Family meal Coral Von Zumwalt

4 a.m.

Edwidge Danticat 
Author of Breath, Eyes, Memory and Brother, I’m Dying 
When I was a girl growing up in Haiti, I would occasionally go to ambulant prayer meetings, called kowòts, with my aunts. We would head out before dawn, wearing white dresses with our heads tightly wrapped in matching handkerchiefs. Often we would carry flashlights to light our way while singing loudly to alert others to join us. In the usually lively and rambunctious neighborhood where we lived, just being able to hear our voices echo in the silence was divine. As we walked along, our numbers would grow until there were about 20 or 25 of us, all sentinels for God. Occasionally people would curse us or throw buckets of water at us because we were disturbing their sleep, but even that seemed worthwhile as we watched the sun rise and the air lighten from dark to gray to crystal light.
I am no longer an early riser. Rather, I am a late sleeper. I have two small daughters, and I often begin my work―writing―when they are safely tucked in bed, joining them for a few hours of sleep, right around 4 a.m. This remains my favorite moment of the day. Every morning, before I climb in to snuggle a bit with my husband or daughters or sometimes everyone together, I say a simple kowòt prayer: God grant me many more mornings, so that I might grow old with the ones I love.

6:30 a.m.

Rick Moody
Author of The Diviners, Garden State, and The Ice Storm 
Home delivery of the newspaper may be considered one of civilized society’s great innovations, but I don’t see it that way. I started going out for the paper every day in my 20s because I came from news-obsessed people and because I was too broke for home delivery.
After a while, I was hooked. Turns out that being up at 6:30 and venturing onto the unpopulated streets for the paper (and to get my wife a muffin for breakfast) is now one of my happiest responsibilities. My mind is clear; I am full of feeling; I get a lot of ideas for things I want to write. Even if it’s raining, there’s something sublime about slowing the day down to chat up the guy at the newsstand. Do I worry about the fate of newspapers in the Internet era? You bet. It’s not the same if you can just punch it up on a screen.

After Sunrise

Roxana Robinson
Author of Cost and This Is My Daughter 
I like to take my coffee and go outside, first thing, to see what has happened during the night. I step onto the back porch. The air is fresh and cool. Now, in the fall, it smells of dampness: The woods are turning dark and quiet. Autumn is arriving; there is a movement toward silence. The leaves in the woods are underfoot now, slippery, rotting. They’ve become nourishment.
I stand looking. There is mist at the end of the meadow, and a fine, tiny curl of steam rising from my coffee. This is the moment I want to be in. I stand holding my mug, looking out over the meadow. Sometimes there’s a wild turkey stalking across it―awkward, arrogant. Sometimes there is just the wind, shifting the dry stalks of the grasses, moving the last leaves in the woods. I breathe in the cool, damp air. Everything is poised. The day is about to begin. 
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