As September spins into October, summer’s yellow-white light fades, too quickly, to a subdued gray and I lament the morning dimness. No matter how bright an autumn day may become, with fall sunshine and all the colors of changing leaves, the steadily darkening mornings clearly indicate that summer has gone. By November, I am feeling my way down the hallway well before sunrise, shocked into wakefulness when my bare feet hit the chill of the kitchen’s tile floor.
Though I grow used to these dark mornings by the depth of winter – and even accept the coziness of the lamp-lit quiet, tucked warmly away from the snowy world outside – I wholeheartedly welcome the return of early morning light come springtime. Some morning near the beginning of March, I notice a faint glow through my window shades as I awaken, and I know that no matter how much snow there is on the ground or how icy the wind is outside, the light is returning. This happens not long before the bi-annual time change, which always seems like a cheap trick to me – to give me morning light, then snatch it away as a tradeoff for lingering evening brightness.
Daylight “savings” aside, come May, the morning light glows through those window shades earlier and brighter. Each day’s first wash of light gradually flows across a landscape whose color is expanding by the day. The newly green grass grows greener, dotted by happy yellow daffodils and dandelions. In the field, the lupine leaves on their slowly stretching stalks hold dew that sparkles in the morning sun. The pink-hued flowers of red maple trees and cascading pale green of willows tint yards and hillsides as leaves prepare to unfurl. The leaf buds on the lilac bushes swell daily, and I think if I had the patience to sit and watch, I could probably see them grow before my eyes. The fragrant flowers of those bushes will bloom this month, as will the shadbush at the edge of the driveway and the sweet pink and white apple blossoms in the fields beyond.
May is when early morning reclaims its light, and it is not only the leaves and flowers and returning birds who take note and adjust. I return to my weekend ritual of early morning porch sits, absconding outside with a blanket, a book, and the day’s first cup of coffee. I return to occasional early morning walks through the woods or slow, backroads runs. Even before the sun is fully up, the sky is filled with light.
Perhaps we morning people are, in a way, solar powered. This growing morning light corresponds with an exceptionally busy time of year for my family. These early May mornings allow me the bit of space and time – and brightness – I need to reset and recharge before I dive into each full day.
Original content published by Meghan McCarthy McPhaul. This essay appears as Meghan's May 5, 2022 Close to Home column in the Littleton Record.