This is a strange time of year for early risers: all the blackness of winter but the temperatures of summer. Some mornings the Santa Ana winds bring with them an even stranger combination for hikers and bikers in the San Gabriel Mountains: gusts that nearly blow them off the trail followed by uncannily calm periods of velvety warmth.
The moon, high in the sky, adds its own touch of unreality, as it casts your shadow on the silvery rocks, an unnerving experience as, out of the corner of your eye, you see it following you. Nothing else is stirring, each animal having decided to have just five minutes more in bed, while the nocturnals are yawning before they turn in. Every day this week an owl has protested sleepily as I’ve walked through the dark grove of trees where it lives.
As in all previous years, it has taken an effort in recent weeks to get used to creeping ‘round the house in darkness so as not to wake everyone while avoiding stomping on the cat’s tail, but by now, hopefully, most outdoor people have probably evolved a routine of waking up at more or less the same time each day.
Alas, and again as in all previous years, all that self-discipline is about to go for naught. In a few days, Daylight Saving Time will end and we’ll be waking at 4:30 instead of 5:30 and even the hardiest can see that starting out at that time is not only outlandish but a trifle perverted. So instead of the deep dream-free rest you badly need, you spend a disturbed hour drifting in and out of sleep.
Even William Wordsworth, who took great pride in retaining a countryman’s lifestyle even after becoming a gent, complained that not being able to fall asleep left him “cross and peevish as a child.” If one of the most renowned poets, a man known for preaching patience and self-control to others, can’t handle it, how can the rest of us?
There’s been renewed talk recently of year-round daylight saving so we avoid this twice-a-year disruption and have darkness come on later in the evenings during the winter months. When the time comes to vote, put me down as a resounding “yes.” If you can wake me up, that is.
Reg Green’s website is nicholasgreen.org.