I woke up at about 4 a.m. this morning, which is earlier than normal. I tried to go back to sleep, hoping for another hour or so of shut-eye, but after tossing and turning for 15 minutes and realizing I was wide awake, I decided to yield to the inevitable, get up, and enjoy the quiet of the morning.
I like sleep as much as the next person, but I also don’t really mind those days when absolute wakefulness comes early. Mornings are definitely a special time here. It is so quiet that your ears almost begin to ache as they search for any hint of a sound, and the thrum of a car on a distant street heading toward the harbor, or the cawing of a crow in one of the neighborhood trees, seems almost deafening. The headlights of pick up trucks turning onto the road toward Greenhead Lobster flitter briefly across the walls, and there is a faint taste of salt in the pre-dawn air. After last night’s rain, the sky was clear as crystal, with the morning constellations at first standing out brightly against the broad sweep of the Milky Way, and then hanging on to the west before being overwhelmed as the first glimmers of daylight emerge to the east and the dim outlines of the rocks below our deck start to emerge from the nighttime gloom.
Mornings are a good time to stand outside and enjoy the silence and then to putter about, straighten things up, put the dishes away, turn to some random Mozart on the Idagio app, and enjoy that first steaming cup of coffee and the coolness of the air. On mornings like this you need to relish the moment and let all of the senses run free. I’ll be more tired than normal tonight, for sure, but for now I will enjoy the quiet of the morning.
I’ve always been an early bird. I wake up at the crack of dawn as a matter of course. On most Saturdays and Sundays, I try to roll over and get a bit more sleep. This morning, though, I saw the early morning sunlight lancing through the slats on our blinds and had the opposite impulse — so I got up and got ready to head out for a walk.
When you’re out for an early morning stroll, there’s no need to primp. You’re not going to run into anyone at 6 a.m. A ratty t-shirt and old shorts will do just fine, and don’t worry about totally eliminating that bed head, either. Drag your fingers through your sorry excuse for a coiff, try to pat down the more egregious hair eruptions, and get going.
One nice thing about the early morning hours: during the high summer days in the Midwest, when the daytime temperatures can reach the 90s as has been the case recently, they’re one of the few reasonable walking times of the day. This morning there was still a delightful whiff of lingering nighttime coolness in the air, not yet burned to a crisp by the blazing sun and throttled by the steamy humidity that will be coming soon enough. Simply breathing was a pleasure, and a few deep gulps of the fresh air tasted wonderful.
As I took my lap around Schiller Park, the robins were out on the lawns, hopping and hunting for worms with their sharp-eyed, birdlike intensity. The duck pond was swarming with ducks and geese, and some of the adventurous fowl mysteriously decided to march across the street, apparently in search of food. For the birds among us, it was time to be out and about, even if most of the sleepy human world was still fast asleep.
This morning, it felt good to be one of the early birds.
If, like me, you are an early riser, you are used to moving around in the dim, dark, pre-dawn hours. Those moments often offer the early bird a special solitude, and an unmatched opportunity for quiet, rewarding contemplation.
When you are in a remote place, like Lake Temagami, the sense of peaceful tranquility found in these early morning hours is multiplied tenfold. A casually placed canvas chair on a dock becomes an irresistible perch where you can drink in the pure air, admire the crystalline sliver of the crescent moon far above, and watch the sky gradually turn from black, to charcoal, to deep blue.
I used that perch, and I thought no great thoughts on this quiet morning — but I did come away with a wonderful and satisfying sense of inner calm.