New poll on the home page of my blog: What time of day do you prefer to write?
I’m a night owl stuck in an early bird world: my answer used to be 4a because I stayed up that late. Nowadays it is 4a because I got up a little early.
Uh huh. So this is the adulthood that I was so eager to get to.
First light on a spring morning at Griffith Park.
Last spring I started going for hikes at sunrise, on a trail at Griffith Park that provides spectacular views of Los Angeles. As a hike progressed I could watch the city lights fade and see the rising sun gleam in distant high-rise windows. The cliffs and chaparral in the Park were shadows that slowly grew more distinct in that golden light that only comes at dawn. I knew when the sun was about to crest the horizon because that is when so many birds began to sing.
An empty trail just after sunrise.
These hikes quickly became my favorite pastime. I couldn’t convince friends or family that they were worth the excessively early rising, so I went by myself. I feel safe hiking solo at Griffith Park because I stick to the popular trails and there are always people around. As spring headed for summer, dawn came earlier, and I started my hikes earlier to accommodate. I assumed that the other early hikers were also there for the sunrise. But apparently they were just – early hikers, and they didn’t keep adjusting arrival time to match the sunrise. One morning I discovered I was the only one around. No cars. No other hikers. No dogwalkers. No park guys doing clean up.
I started out and the view was beautiful but I didn’t enjoy it. I became preoccupied with the darkness behind me and the hills full of critters that might be watching me. The darkness thinned but still no one else was around. I decided to return to my car until other humans materialized. As I headed back, with relief I saw a jogger approaching. We exchanged the usual good mornings and then as he passed me he asked with gusto, “Did you hear me howl?”
I had not.
“Aw-wuh!” He was disappointed but fortunately he kept going. A few minutes later, I could hear human howls echoing from deep back in the hills. Probably he was harmless but I greeted the next hikers I passed with considerable enthusiasm.
I decided the moral of this story should be go later or bring the dog and that is what I have done since.
If my body clock had its way, I would always stay up until 3am and sleep the morning away. But after years of jobs on “normal” schedules, and getting kids to school on time, I am no longer capable of sleeping until noon. Given half a chance, I would be quite comfortable staying up until all hours except I know I am guaranteed to be miserable the next day — because no matter how late I go to bed, I’ll awaken at 7. Seven ayem. How can my natural schedule be half ruined and half the same?