Good Morning Sunshine
One of the benefits of ‘retirement’ is that I get to sleep in – EVERY DAY! And by ‘sleeping in’, I mean I don’t get up before the sun does. This is a drastic change for me after 50 plus years of rising – often in the dark – to trudge off to school or to work or to rouse two little boys (who weren’t ‘morning people’) and get them ready to face the day. And during the last ten years of my ‘working life’, I was (too) often scheduled to teach 8:00 a.m. classes (in our College system, classes can be scheduled any time between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.). My husband (who still teaches) LOVES 8:00 a.m. classes; he’s a died-in-the-wool morning person. I always hated them – I far preferred start times of 9:30 a.m. or later. An 8:00 a.m. class meant rising at 5:30 to accommodate breakfast, morning ablutions, two cups of tea, last minute prep, and drive time (I liked to be at my desk by 7:30). Being ‘up and at ‘em’ early was something I adapted to, but I wouldn’t say I ever really enjoyed it.
So, the idea of sleeping in – rising when I felt like it – after retiring was something I really looked forward to! It did take some getting used to (especially with my husband still rising at god-forsaken times like 4:30 a.m. many days of the week – I’m semi-aware of him moving about, but I don’t get up), but over the past three years I’ve learned to let my body decide how much sleep it needs and to simply ‘go with the flow’. I tend to sleep in later during the (long, cold) winter months, when the sun rises later in the day, and while I do occasionally get up shortly after sunrise in the summer (I enjoy having my early morning tea out on the deck on warm summer mornings), I didn’t really think I was missing all that much by ‘lying in’ most days.
But maybe I was wrong …
My husband brought me my first cup of tea this morning at 5:00 a.m. He was on a mission and I was integral to its execution. His truck had broken down just as he’d pulled into work on Friday morning (at 7:00 a.m.) and he’d had to leave it in the parking lot overnight (I picked him up at the end of the day Friday and brought him home). We’d made the excursion in to the College (in the adjacent town, about 30 minutes away) on Saturday in the hopes of making a quick repair, but the problem couldn’t be fixed in the parking lot with the tools he’d taken with him. We’d had to abort the mission and reschedule it for today (before 8:00 a.m. – the parking lot his truck was marooned in was being used for a motorcycle training course over the weekend and their class started at 8:00 a.m.; College Security had said he either had to move the truck before 8:00 or leave it there until after 5:00 p.m. – guess which option he chose?!?!?) Equipped with the materials he needed to do the job, we embarked on our journey just before 6:00 a.m.
We headed east just as the sun was rising. It was a spectacular sight – the giant orange ball lifted itself up out of the lake, throwing brilliant and dramatic colours across the clouds and the sky – blues and reds and oranges and yellows – followed by a shimming path of gold that stretched across the smooth surface – reaching right for us. I’d almost forgotten how magnificent a sunrise can be (I’d seen quite a few of them while nursing babies and while making those early morning drives into the College over the years).
The parking lot at the College was devoid of humans, but there were innumerable birds sweeping across the adjacent green spaces, singing their early morning songs. I saw cardinals and blue jays, yellow and purple finches, a pair of red-winged blackbirds, several chickadees and sparrows, and a downy woodpecker (I have all of these birds in my own yard, but I’d forgotten how ‘busy’ they are first thing in the morning). And just before we pulled out (my husband managed to do what needed to be done to the truck to get it mobile in just over 15 minutes), a cottontail rabbit hopped out from under a nearby bush and twitched his nose at me before bounding off in search of whatever it is rabbits eat for breakfast.
We were back home by 7:00 a.m. As I stood in the kitchen window making myself another cup of tea, I spotted a family of skunks (mom and four babies) foraging in the neighbour’s yard, a big male raccoon ambling past the kitchen window, and several squirrels, a couple of chipmunks, and a(nother) rabbit busily going about their ‘start of day’ activities in my yard. The woods are a very busy place in the early morning hours.
When I took my tea out onto the deck, the air was fresh and quite pleasant (considering how hazy, hot and humid it’s expected to get later today), the birds were singing (something you don’t hear during the heat of the day), and the neighbourhood was (relatively) quiet – no one was mowing their lawn, or blowing leaves, or chopping down trees (something that’s been happening too often lately). There were no traffic sounds coming from the street and the often-audible rumble of cars on the bridge over the habour (about 3 miles away) was negligible. It took me a few moments to realize what I’d been missing all this time by sleeping in every morning!
Now, don’t get me wrong – a single morning of ‘nature’s bliss’ isn’t likely to turn me into an early riser – but it has made me ‘wake up’ to the realization that there’s a real benefit to adjusting my sleep schedule slightly (maybe once or twice a week) so that I can enjoy more of what the morning has to offer – and get more out of life here on … the other side of 55.