The dawn breeze wafted the curtains and stole across the bed. Shifting the cat curled up at my side; I pulled the blanket over my shoulder and opened my eyes a slit to look at the clock. I still had plenty of time. It was the pearly gray light of dawn. I rolled over, got comfortable, and started to listen to the birds.
I do not use an alarm clock. I use the dawn chorus and the color of the light to tell time. (The time shift twice a year, of course, wreaks havoc with this method and I am all befuddled until I adjust to the change.) I have been an early riser for years and years, some would say an insomniac. I started listening to the birds when I could not sleep. Now, I think of them as old friends and returning neighbors. (“Ah, I see the Robins have arrived.”) The birds of the flatland and the birds of the mountain, of course, are different, and it took me awhile to get to know the new neighbors-but isn’t that the case where ever you move? I find waking gently to the strengthening day and the birds a comfort.
In the early hours, I can hear the newcomers setting up their territories and looking for love. I hear Thrushes, Warblers, Orioles, Titmice, Mourning Doves, Phoebes, Chickadees and all the rest. I love picking out what is what or who is who. My favorites are the Orioles, the Warblers, and of course, the Whippoorwills. The Whippoorwills send me into the arms of Orpheus and I hear them sleepily again in the pre-dawn hours. They have not arrived yet.
Ever since I flexed my work hours to 10-6, I have no need of the nerve-wracking buzzing of an alarm. What a rude way to wake up in the morning. My heart goes out to all of you that need to use one. I own an alarm clock and I do set it if I have an early flight. But I never end up trusting it to go off, so I end up sleeping badly; glancing at the clock every hour on the hour. I do resent the necessity.
I prefer my tried and true method. From now until late fall, I will wake to the birds in the morning