Somewhere between 4 and 5 a.m. seems to be the time my internal alarm clock dings. As I have aged, my sleep requirements seem to have diminished. That’s not to say that I can’t nap at the drop of a hat especially if nothing is happening -- but night time seems to exist for me and the cat.
I am always anxious for the crack of dawn. I was in FFA and showed calves all 4 years of high school, and had to get up early to milk the cow, feed the calf and take my chances on leading that little black Angus calf around the corral a few times before heading off to school with the ever-present odor of the barn attached to my shoes. My classmates all knew the odor of unprocessed leather on the hoof....
Today, when the alarm rouses me I think of the Bottoms. When the sun is just teasing the horizon-- things are starting to happen. The night hunters are winding down. The owls go to their secluded hideouts and the coyotes and raccoons head for cover. The day crowd is just starting. You can listen to the geese start ramping up to launch for breakfast. Ducks are re-establishing communication prior to their explosion off the water. Pheasants are cackling all over the Bottoms -- I think our best population is in that area. The harriers, hawks, eagles, Kestrels, Merlins, and other falcons are already on high alert. This is a good time to see these birds take waterfowl and blackbirds out of the flocks. It is my favorite time of the day.
What I do notice is that these roads are mostly empty. Once in a while I will see another vehicle except during hunting season when the whole area is pulsating with energy, dogs, boats and high hopes for success. This is the time of day to reflect on my blessings, health, and celebrate again my retirement that gives me this freedom. I can’t recall a time that my heart didn’t beat faster with eager anticipation of the things I might see when I hit the roads less traveled in search of a new sight or adventure.
Today these Great Blue Herons were sitting around the marsh and I sensed that they resented my presence. They will just have to get over it.
My wish for all of you this Christmas and New Year season is to have the privilege of going on the less-traveled roads at the crack of dawn and see and hear the wonder that we share.