The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Outdoors

June 15, 2014

Early morning is beautifully lonely

Benjamin Franklin was on to something when he extolled the benefits of “early to bed, early to rise.”

While I can’t vouch for its effect on health, wealth or wisdom, rolling out of the sack certainly seems to pay dividends for outdoor activities.

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who embrace the morning, whose feet hit the floor running, and those for whom dawn comes at an inconvenient, uncomfortable time.

If you hunt or fish, then you probably agree that predawn has its advantages. Peak game and fish activities frequently occur in the morning.

Purely as a practical matter, hitting the road earlier than everyone else ensures there will be room at the lake access and little or no competition for the best fishing or hunting areas.

Being the first person on the water, into the turkey woods or on the duck slough is to temporarily own it, be privy to secrets that late sleepers can never know.

At home. weekday or weekend, holiday or work day, the bedside alarm is set to clatter at 4:45 a.m. Since my wife is among those for whom dawn always comes way too early, I’ll confess that this has been no small source of irritation over the years.

But after four decades, she has grudgingly come to accept it, rolling over and catching more shut-eye as I pad down the hall.

And I frequently remind her how lucky she is to have a partner who is getting out of bed when some husbands are trying to sneak back in.

On most mornings, a noisy alarm is unnecessary, anyway. My internal clock usually is reliable enough to prompt me to put feet on the floor. Come rain or snow, mosquitoes and gnats, I’m out the door with the dog for our morning constitution before 5 a.m.

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