With Jack starting school last September one of the biggest adjustments we have had to make has been getting up at 7.30 every morning, Monday to Friday. (And, of course, weekends too as Jack’s highly trainable body clock doesn’t switch off just because it’s a Saturday. Dammit.)
It might not sound that harsh’ I know lots of people have much earlier starts, but before this I had carefully structured my life so that I never had to be consistently up before the sun was. I have been self-employed virtually all of my working life and thus had the luxury of managing my own diary. Never taking appointments before 10am and living within walking distance of my work place made for a nicely relaxed start to the working day when I lived in the UK.
A big part of the motivation for moving to Spain for both of us was to leap even further out of the ‘rat race’ and off the hamster wheel of racing to maintain our modern life. We came here to work less, earn less and live a little more. So naturally getting up before the sun didn’t really feature heavily in our plans.
The last few years have thus seen us taking our morning tea anywhere south of 8 a.m. A perfectly civilized time, I’m sure you’ll agree. The sun is also more consistently civilized in its own waking times here in northern Spain – we have none of that summertime 4.30am sunrise nonsense. The earliest sun up, even in the height of summer, is around 7a.m.
Having a baby did of course muck about somewhat with our sleep patterns. Or completely destroy them for a while, if I’m honest. But at least having the luxury of not having to get up and out the door first thing meant that a certain amount of morning time lounging compensated a lot for the night-time tortures.
Truth be told our favourite time of the day since Jack arrived has been the first hour or two, when we would have the luxury of a family lie-in. Cuddles and stories and cups of tea. A delicious, cozy, gentle sliding start into the day.
Alas, the family lie-in is no more. With school came enslavement to the beep of the alarm. Up and at it, there is not a moment to spare in wrestling a small child into readiness for his walk to the bus stop.
There are some compensations for our newly manic mornings however. (Apart from the obvious one of having subsequent child-free hours to get on with stuff.) For example the light can often be outstandingly beautiful at this time of the morning. There’s something special about being outside in it, fully immersed in its glory. It’s definitely good for the soul.
And then last Friday morning, as we slipped out the door into almost total darkness, a very special thing happened. The barn owl that I have long suspected to be lodging in our loft chose that very moment to swoop across our patio (and heads) and demonstrate his clever trick of folding his giant wings in and squeezing through the small hole in our eaves.
After several months of trying to catch him in the act or to discover his bolthole in the attic I finally had my proof that those nightly ‘toowhit-toowoos’ weren’t just in my head, they really were coming from just above it.