I wake up with the sun, about 5 am this time of year (I make up for it in December). My newspapers are not delivered until 6:30, so I make the coffee, wake up my computer, and scan the boardwalk cams at the Jersey Shore (AtTheShore.com).
The exercisers are out walking, running, and cycling as soon as it gets light, and almost any view of the boardwalk will show several of them. They seem to be evenly distributed in any way I can think of: by ethnicity, sex, age, athleticism, and experience (some obviously do this every day; for others it is a brand-new activity and are discovering it only looks easy). What prompts them to get out so early? I think I know.
Like me, they are up with the sun. They are renting a house with their extended family, maybe ten altogether, an annual reunion, and are killing time until the others are up and breakfast is started. At first, they creep alone around the silent house, ignoring the empty glasses and snacks left over from the night before. The rising sun glares through the windows of the living room. They step out on the front porch feeling the cool air with the hint of the heat to come. They nod to the passing couple walking briskly toward the boardwalk a block or two away. None of their family will be up for for at least another hour, and the boardwalk is where the activity is, so they put on their running shoes or hop on the bike sitting in the garage and join the other early risers. Better now while the day is still cool.
By the time they get back, two of their family are now up and out on the porch, clutching their coffee mugs and quietly chatting. Inside the front door is abruptly chaotic, a different world of multitasking women—always the women—scurrying around the kitchen, asking preferences, cooking eggs, and pouring orange juice. A groggy teenager is slouched at the counter staring into space. Children in pajamas are asking for their bathing suits.
The ERs (early risers) feel superior to those just getting up, those who stayed up late the night before playing cards. The ERs say something self-righteous and smug, that the best part of the day is already over. The exaggeration is good-naturedly ignored. Everyone is on vacation—content, free to do as they please, knowing morality has nothing to do with sleeping late. Some of us are morning people, some are night people. Society is fortunate to have both.