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The Wide Awake Early Club

Posted: August 23, 2012 10:00 a.m.
Updated: August 24, 2012 5:00 a.m.

A new e-book says the early morning hours -- we’re talking about getting up early, not staying awake till the wee hours -- are best for getting things accomplished.

Laura Vanderkam, who’s billed as a time-management expert, maintains that the pre- and post-dawn hours, when many people are either asleep or still sluggish, can make all the difference in a person’s productivity.

Well, efficiency and productivity are nice, but those things don’t even address the actual reasons that early birds like rolling out of bed while it’s still dark: the sheer enjoyment of getting the day off to a fast start.

Getting up early is a lot like running. You either like it or you don’t, and there’s not much in between.

Count me among the morning people. There’s supposedly even a name for us -- larks, as opposed to owls, who like to burn the midnight oil -- though I’m both wary and weary of labeling every single group in this country with monikers.

We have boomers, X-gens, Y-gens, this community, that community. Why not just call pre-dawn risers people who like to get up early?

In any event, if you’re one of those people who like to watch late-night talk shows, and if you don’t have to get to work at an early hour, you can just ignore this column and line your parakeet cage with it because I’ll never convince you that earlier is better.

Let’s set a few parameters if we’re going to talk about getting up early, because everything is relative. Teenagers think rolling out of bed at 11 a.m. is getting up early. Some of my friends think 8 a.m. is an early call.

But my deadline in defining early risers is 5 a.m. If your feet regularly touch the floor at that time or before, you’re a member of the Wide Awake Early Club.

Of course, you have to hit the rack pretty early if you’re gonna get up before dawn. Night owls view that as a drawback. We don’t. When the clock face hits 9 p.m., it’s time for early risers to turn out the lamp, put aside the book and head towards slumberland.

A few years back, when our children were in the bloom of their college years, one of my friends who also had college-aged kids asked me, “When your children are home from school and they go out at night, do you stay up till they get in?”

“Hell,” I answered frankly, “I don’t stay up till they go out.”

For those who hit the deck early, a sensation develops over a period of time: when you sleep-in -- say, to 6:30 or 7 -- you feel as if half the day is wasted.

Take a ride around Camden some morning before dawn and watch the town come to life -- delivery trucks pulling into supermarkets, commuters buying coffee and gas before they hit the interstate to Columbia, cops getting in their last cruise through town before the sun comes up.

And on the Maine island where Wife Nancy and I spend time, I like the way the sun settles in after that first hearty blast of light blasting over the horizon. I like the way it plays out in different palettes on the water, with a few hints of purple thrown in as the summits of the mountains explode into a new day.

I like the sea fog coming off the water, the diesel thrust of working boats heading out for a day’s work. I like the way lobster buoys sway in the flat water of dawn, the chirping of osprey as they look for breakfast, even the crows greeting the new day with their noisy wrangling.

Ben Franklin is credited with saying, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

After years of getting up before the sun does, I think I’ve got the healthy thing down. As for the wealthy and wise part, I’m still waiting.

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