Essay: On Waking Up At 5 AM

Mar 10, 2020

Daylight saving time means it stays darker longer in the early morning hours. But horse farmer Lia Sader found that can lead to some beautiful sights for early risers. Here’s her essay about an unusual encounter on her farm in Franksville, Wisc.

My mornings generally start whenever I hear my small dog start to be restless. If she’s up, it must be time to get up. This morning it was 5 am, which is fine. I do much of my best work quite early. I have always loved mornings and was an early riser even as a child.

After feeding the dogs and letting them out, I turned to feed my porch cats.  On any given morning there are between 4 and 8 of them. Barn cats, ferals and recently a new intact male. I don’t know if he is lost or was dumped. He waits as the other cats aren’t keen to share with him. As I finished filling the dishes I looked up towards the barn, and that is when I saw it. The light that made me rush into the house and throw my coat on to get a better look. My good farm dog came with me (not the old one that woke me up) and I started toward the barn.

I have always been outdoorsy. I camped frequently until I went into horses full-time, which doesn’t give one much opportunity for anything else. It took me a bit to get used to the Farm cycles.  So the first time I saw lights shining on the side of my barn, I was alarmed, to put it mildly. It was like someone was aiming a spotlight down the length of it. The barn is on an east-west axis, with the entry doors on the west end, with only our paddocks, pastures, and open fields to the west. That’s where it appeared someone was shining a very bright light!

So I went charging up there wondering what or who I was going to find, and ready to give them a piece of my mind! As I rounded the corner of the old grainery, to where I could get a look at the perpetrator, I was stopped in my tracks. At the end of the farm path leading west into the open field, hanging low, but still a good way above the horizon, was the biggest full moon I had seen in a long time. I must have inhaled sharply at the beautiful sight, because I soon found myself short of breath.  I have no idea how long I stood there just looking at it, marveling that such beauty exists in the night, when most are fast asleep, unaware of it all.

Eventually I realized how lucky I was to have glanced up and thought I had a trespasser. We all know about the moon. I hope most people have stood and looked at it at some point in their lives. But on this cold morning, I thought about how fortunate I am to be an early riser. How fortunate that I keep my head up and pay attention to my surroundings, or I would have missed this glorious sight. 

The horses in the paddocks have stopped eating only to look at me, wondering what I’m doing just standing there. I know if I go into the barn to give hay to the stalled horses, that the moon will be gone when I am done. So I stand and take it in, thanking the universe for this lovely start to my day. Then I turn and go back to the reason I’m here, the horses in the cold, depending on me to throw them their hay.