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Night to Day: the Transition

John W. Pinkerton


I suspect that the hour we arise from our slumber says much about who we are.  Up until recently, I considered myself a night person.  However, I seem to have edged my way over to morning person status.  What the heck is this all about?

Some “scientists” attribute our preference for the morning or evening to a gene called Period 3.  One study comes to the conclusion that morning people are happier than night owls.  Another study concludes that early risers prefer logic and analysis; whereas, night owls are more imaginative and open to unconventional ideas.  The same study concludes that morning folks are more likely to be self-controlled, respectful of authority, and try to make a good impression; whereas, night owls are independent, nonconforming and don’t give a ding-dang about authority.  Hmm…obviously, they know from whence they speak.

In my youth I was a late sleeper and clung to wakefulness deep into the night as though I was fearful of losing an important moment.  My poor mother often told me that I should rise early so that I could see the sunrise.  I declined her invitation.

Also in my youth, after a hard day’s work in the sun, I would be exhausted, but after a shower and a quick meal, my eyes became like an owl’s, wide and searching.

I was definitely a night person, but now, it appears, I’m becoming a morning person.  The switch in no way has been approved by me, yet there I am going to sleep by 10 or earlier and awaking at 3, 4, and 5 o’clock in the morning.  I fight against the early awakening but am seldom successful in returning to my slumber.  I am left with eyes wide open awaiting  a decent hour to arrive for my beginning my day.

Now, Linda has always been a morning person.  Thank Gawd!  If it were not for her, I would never have gotten to work on time.  She always brought me a cup of coffee in the morning knowing that without it my arising was almost impossible.  Lately I’ve noticed that her desire to retire early has waned a bit.  Now she often stays awake beyond my waking hours, but now I arise before she does.  Could she be changing also?

What does one do at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning?  Well, I’m fairly new at this early rising, but I already have one rule to try to keep this new behavior in check: I delay my coffee until 5:00.  In the meantime, I try to return to slumber, but if that doesn’t succeed, I check my email.  There’s usually no new messages for me to get excited about.  I may open my essay file to see if there is one there that calls for me to edit or add to it…usually not.  When 5:00 arrives, I prepare my coffee.  Sometimes I just wait next to the pot while it makes.  This typically only takes about ten minutes.  I pour the coffee into a cup, add sugar, and head for the front porch.  A couple of the cats usually want to go out with me.  They run their tails up as though they expect opposition to their presence.  Normally they are only greeted by silence…as am I.  It’s pretty darned quiet at 3:00 in the morning. 

Recently I returned to smoking an electronic cigarette.  A few years ago I used an electronic cigarette for about five months but abruptly quit one day.  No, I do not have an explanation for my sudden return to cigarettes; it just happened.  I never quit cigarettes, but the electronic cigarette did reduce my consumption of cigarettes.   So now I have to decide whether I should start my day with an electronic cigarette or one from a package.  It’s about a 50/50 deal.  Decisions, Decisions. 

Anyway, I sit there like the cats hoping for action: perhaps the young fellow who rides a bicycle past my home at all hours of the night and the day.  Lord only knows what that’s about; perhaps a car with an occupant going to work…I went to work in the morning, around 3:00 in the morning years ago.  It was a swing shift.  I gave other occupants of the highway a wide berth suspecting that everyone else on the road at that hour of the morning was probably drunk.  Some mornings deer appear close by: our deer are urban deer; they come to town in the evening and pretty much spend the night grazing on grass and flowers.  This morning three appeared from an alley a half block away close to the highway; they slowly crossed the street and began munching on the grass next to a local quick stop; they never even looked up at the cars passing within fifty feet of them. 

I can depend on the newspaper delivery guy to pass by flinging my Eagle into or near the yard.  This morning he must have spotted me finishing my coffee on the porch because in a few moments after flinging, he returned, parked his truck, and hand delivered my newspaper to me.  Paper delivered, he began to complain about the condition of the streets in our small town.  It seems that they are ruining his truck and apparently upsetting his nervous system.  I listened patiently, but could offer little solace beyond stating that we were aware that the streets were not in the best of condition.  He went on to praise other nearby towns for their diligent upkeep of their streets and he emphasized the pride they must have in their communities.  I agreed that they were doing good jobs but, once again, could offer little solace.  After about fifteen minutes, he seemed to run down and began to say his adieus, and I invited him to stop back by any time to continue our chat.

Anyway, I drink my coffee interspersed by drags on my cigarette or my e-cigarette.  I try to keep track of where the cats get off to, but that’s pretty well impossible.  They’ll come back when they want to.  Sometimes my black cat, Bill, will jump up in my lap and restlessly attempt to find a comfortable position.  After a little head rubbing, he disappears on a mission.  The other cat, Bunco, a four year old female, our youngster, disappears pretty quickly.  This is just about the only time she wants out of the house; a few minutes living on the wild side is enough for her.

Finishing my first cup, I return to the kitchen for my second cup and then return to the front porch and repeat the ritual.  The four-year-old is usually ready to return to the inside of the house---where the treats are---by the time I finish the second cup.

Well, I’m beginning to accumulate sunrise sightings, and I must confess, I’m not impressed.

However, I must also admit I sometimes get some pretty good new ideas sitting on my porch in the morning.  Often they’re just germs of ideas for essays.  Sometimes I’ll come up with a new thought about my paintings.

But…I miss the nights.  Perhaps I associate the nights with adventure and the unknown.  Being from Louisiana, I started drinking at a relatively young age.  I always considered alcohol a friend.  Pretty quickly after I retired, my drinking reduced and absolutely disappeared within a few months.  Again, I have no explanation.  I have no desire for a drink.  Damn, I kinda miss drinking just as I miss the nights.

Anyway, I’ve become a non-alcoholic-e-cigarette-smoking morning person.  Crap!