Dusting off the early-rising machine

Made a point of getting to bed slightly earlier last night, soon after the zany last act of London 2012. This morning was a semi-dress rehearsal for tomorrow’s start of High & Middle School. Have to get up & leave the house earlier each school-day, no more sleeping in ’til 6:30 or 7, no more leisurely (’til the coffee’s gone) glider sessions  out back. Must wake up to reality.

So, I was out here in time for this morning’s 6:06 sunrise.  It’s a cool 69 degrees, I still have more than half a Grande’s worth of caffeine to sip on, and (unlike tomorrow) I don’t have to be in the Big House at this hour rallying the troops to a 7 am departure. You really don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s almost gone.

John Muir, my latest object of biographical fascination, is a good source to cite this morning. In The Story of My Boyhood he recounts the episode in which his stern and pious father gave him permission to rise early, rather than stay up late. This was in the 19th century, of course, so young John had to try and rouse himself without benefit of a clock radio or other “mechanical servitor” (in Thoreau’s phrase) if he was to jump-start the dawn.

…next morning to my joyful surprise I awoke before father called me… I sprang out of bed as if called by a trumpet blast, enormously eager to see how much time I had won; it was only one o’clock. I had gained five hours, almost half a day!”Five hours to myself!” I said. “Five huge, solid hours! I can hardly think of any other event in my life, any discovery I ever made that gave birth to joy so transportingly glorious as the possession of these five frosty hours!

So what did he do with that glorious bonus time, over the ensuing weeks? Built himself an “Early-rising Machine.” It was the first of many ingenious Muir creations, including  “a desk in which the books I had to study were arranged in order at the beginning of each term.” I really could use one of those.

But I already have an Early-rising machine. It’s a little rusty, but if it still works I’ll use it tomorrow. At five. And tomorrow, and tomorrow…

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