Across the hall from where Mr. Langton sat with his newspapers, coffee and
early morning sun, Daisy was lying in bed drifting in and out of sleep.
Because of her job at the post office (and having to ride in from the family
farm) she was used to being up early, even though the big down-filled bed
begged her to sleep a little longer. And yet there was an even more
powerful urge that was dissuading her from additional rest – it was the paw
that was tapping her forehead.
Daisy opened her eyes and saw the upside down nonchalant gaze of Capri,
one of the family’s three cats (which seemed to disappear whenever the
grandchildren were around) all of which slept in various locations on Daisy’s
bed. The cats were named by Mrs. Langton and were based on her favorite
places to visit on their worldly travels: Capri, Rio and Mykonos (a.k.a. Myko).
Capri, for the most part, had been sleeping on the edge of Daisy’s pillow
but, by dawn, had worked her way almost on top of Daisy’s head. The other
two cats, Rio and Myko, were down by Daisy’s feet and awake for the time
being, watching and giving silent assent to Capri’s movements.
Around 6:30 a.m. it started.
First it was a little flip of the tail that lightly brushed Daisy’s hair. After a few
flips failed to garner the attention that Capri so desired, she moved a little
closer, now allowing a good portion of her thick tail to run across Daisy’s
head – which only caused Daisy to roll onto her side.
This was completely unacceptable to Capri – and Rio and Myko silently
agreed. She moved above Daisy’s head on the pillow with her back against
the headboard. Then for a moment Capri forgot about Daisy because she
realized how nice it was to rub her back against the headboard. Then there
was that shiny dangling chain on the lamp just over there on the table.
After swatting the chain a few times, Capri went back to the task at hand,
which was getting Daisy’s full attention by waking her up. And this she finally
accomplished with a few paw taps to Daisy’s forehead.
Daisy finally gave in to the green (inverted) eyes above her with a big sigh.
“Good morning, sunshine,”
she said, reaching over her head to pet Capri – who avoided her touch and
promptly bounded down the bed to tussle with Rio.
Daisy could hear her Uncle Gary and the flutter of his newspapers in the
room across the hall. She could smell coffee brewing and coal fire burning.
Even though she stayed with her aunt and uncle more and more often she
didn’t have many of her personal effects with her at their home, just some
clothes and things she might need for a night or two.
When she wasn’t staying there, her aunt used the room for her “musical
exercises” and her various instruments, gear and equipment remained. There
were two music stands, a few stacks of sheet music and the instruments her
aunt specialized in: harp, accordion and ukulele.
Daisy felt a certain musical inclination ever since she was very young, when
she listened to her grandparents perform little duets with grandma playing
guitar and grandpa on the fiddle. Her grandpa even taught her how to play
the fiddle like it was a little guitar. But that was the extent of her “musical
Daisy got up and struggled to push open the large window which
overlooked the backyard. The sun was coming up and a gentle breeze
entered the room. She walked around looking at the instruments and the
sheet music. She couldn’t read music but was able to pick up melodies and
pluck them out by ear on the piano downstairs.
She lightly ran her fingertips down the taut strings of the harp, barely making
a sound. She looked at the accordion which didn’t make sense to her – how
could anyone have come up with an instrument that would produce such a
strange noise (the same for bagpipes)? It was the ukulele which drew her
attention and, just like the piano, she could play a few melodies by ear on
the tiny stringed instrument. It fit her well.
She sat at the bottom of the bed with the instrument in her lap, her feet
dangling above the floor, where the three cats were now dozing in the
warming morning light which spilled all around her. She started to pluck
away aimlessly, humming no melody in particular as she looked out the
window at the city of Peoria and the sun hovering above it.
From across the hall, she heard two doors opening and closing almost
simultaneously. It was her aunt – coming out of the front room – and her
uncle – coming out of the backroom. She heard them greet each other from
down the hall, before descending the staircases – the front staircase for her,
the back staircase for him – and finally meeting just outside the dining room
before going into the kitchen together for breakfast.
It was then that Daisy realized how hungry she was, so she put down the
ukulele and quickly bounced down the back staircase to join her aunt and
uncle in the kitchen.