Morning Glory

We’ve all heard the cliché of seasonal changes as a metaphor for age.

I prefer a clock analogy for the seasons, with us swept along in a pleasant perpetual circle. Morning is spring, of course. And, like youth, it shouldn’t be squandered.

Martha Stewart says we’re more productive if we get dressed at the sound of the alarm, rather than shuffling toward the coffeemaker in our pajamas.

How we spend our mornings does set the stage for our waking hours. But being presentable when the Today show clicks on at 7 needn’t mean embracing an early date with the treadmill or a business breakfast before 8. I like to be up, not out.

And a mellow beginning needn’t portend a sluggish finish.

One of my more memorable vacation days began in a truly slothful fashion: reading and chatting for hours while downing a baguette slathered with lavender honey on a sunny rooftop terrace overlooking the hills of Provence. Finally, one of us said that we really should do something. So we abandoned our reverie and steered the Citroën toward parts unknown, taking a white-knuckle ride up one side of Mont Ventoux and down the other, where we were rewarded by wood-fired pizza from a village street vendor and the discovery of a stunningly vertical cliff-side enclave before racing back against the setting sun along meandering foreign asphalt.

Emerging from winter also has us accelerating as we step free of our inertia, look around, and say we should really do something.

When the high noon of summer arrives, it would be nice if the house were dressed and ready. This special issue, with its portfolio of Design Award winners, offers ample inspiration for getting going. The featured projects were chosen by a panel of judges who offered an outsider’s (non-Michigan) perspective. It’s nice to think of them studying sophisticated images from a region too often dismissed as a style vacuum.

That occurred to me while reading The Gourmet Cookbook, that fat, yellow recipe compendium edited by Ruth Reichl. “Sugar cookies are taken seriously in the Midwest,” the book says. “They must remain plain and honest [with no] nuts or extravagant ingredients.” (This from an editor based in a city that led the cupcake craze.) Plain and honest are certainly good attributes. But the Midwest also is home to glamour and sophistication, as our savvy 2010 design winners make clear.

Their highlighted work is an attractive wake-up call to decorative possibility.

Time to rise and shine. And for the occasion, we also offer three cheery pages as a small spring appetizer — our version of the first robin.