Disclaimer: The characters and situations of the TV program "Big Valley" are the creations of Four Star/Republic Pictures and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended by the author. The ideas expressed in this story are copyrighted to the author.
Heath got up early as was his custom. He dressed in the stillness of the morning before dawn. He didn’t bother with any light; there was no need and no sense in wasting oil. He pulled on his boots and left the room silently. No one else was up. Nick would wake soon after sunrise, but Heath had gotten up before then since boyhood and hadn’t abandoned yet a habit that wasn’t detrimental.
Heath liked the darkness of the morning. It blanketed the land and cloaked him with its dampness. The air outside was cooler and he could watch the day rouse from its nightly hibernation. The barn roof would be the perfect project for this morning. It needed to be done soon though it wasn’t immediately necessary and would take up just the right amount of time while being far enough from the house that his hammer wouldn’t serve as an unwelcome wake-up call.
The mornings had always been his favorite times. His mother had enjoyed them as well, but they were private revelations, and Heath enjoyed the isolation before a long day of working in groups. Hardly a word could be found to cross his lips in the morning. His work served as his vehicle of communication, steady, complete, never a wasted motion, never an errant action. He served as a part of the area surrounding him, as natural and regular as a stream or a horse.
The roof was progressing well. He was three quarters done when he wiped his forehead on his sleeve and looked to the east. For the next half hour he halted his work to watch the reds and oranges and golds fill the sky as the yellow orb glided above the horizon. He returned to his work, softly humming a low tune and continuing his steady rhythm. Hold the shingle, place the nail. Bam, bam, bam, bam. Hold the shingle, place the nail. Bam, bam, bam, bam. Again and again.
Nick saw his brother nearly completed with the roof and smiled. It was quarter to seven and he’d figured Heath would work on the barn. It gave a perfect view over the valley and he knew about Heath’s love for sunrise from a cattle-buying trip. Never content to just sit except at sunrise. Even on days off, up early and carving something, reading a book, sketching designs for projects around the ranch and such.
“You just ‘bout finished there, Heath?”
“Yep. Gimme a second and I’ll be in for breakfast,” he replied, never halting his motions. Hold the shingle, place the nail. Bam, bam, bam, bam. Hold the shingle, place the nail. Bam, bam, bam, bam.
God, I love to see him like that, thought Nick.