Sunday, 14 April 2019


That clock change couldn’t have come at a better time. Every year around now I start waking up ridiculously early. 

We’re not talking mere incremental minutes per week, but hours.

I’ll happily admit that the odd dawn is a wonder to perceive. 

Sometimes you have to get out there and wander the dew-drenched grasses, watch mist lifting slowly from distant reed-strewn dips, drying out and disappearing under the strong sun.

There’s an exquisite calm about that time of day.

In the magnificent trees around my new home dawn is increasingly orchestrated by birdsong. The chorus will reach epic levels in weeks to come, but that’s not the reason I’m waking up.

I’ll sleep through anything natural. 

Hailstones slamming my window? 

Falling asleep to storm force winds? 
Yes please.

The sound of smashing rain is my codeine, but a distant motorbike has me sitting up in bed.

Far more blathering fool than evolutionary biologist, I reckon that the reason I wake up at 5:05 am at this time of year is primal. I’ve noticed it’s very much a male thing.

As soon as I give out about waking up silly early, there rumbles a collective blokey muttering of “Yeh, I know, me too, tell me about it.”

You can have all the lifestyle sleep well live full breathe deep pooh well apps you want, but none of them are more powerful than the one inside you.

If you’re a male mammal and it’s light, there might be other predators about, so you’ve got to be awake; alert; protect the brood.

Ironically far from 21st century woke, but that’s the way it was, that’s why I do it, and it’s exceedingly irritating, because I neither need nor want to be wide awake that early.

If I were anything approaching a sensible being, I’d rise at first light and construct a day with another sleep in it somewhere.

Introducing: The Connacht Siesta.

I love my sleep, and for a while I’ve been taking medication at night, but recently I ran writing classes with 34 first-year girls at Our Lady’s College, and decided that if I could do that, I didn’t need the pills any more.

Just realised that my ‘Male Oink Must Protect’ theory is pure bunkum, because dawn comes much earlier in the Summer, yet I only wake up this early in Spring.

I don’t know. Spring is a crazy season, perfectly named. The sun is high enough in the sky to deliver deep comforting warmth to our faces, but like a bound coil of metal, the weather bounces back and forth, as if ten minutes ago was tomorrow.

Ten days ago I sat in this chair at 9:15 in the morning, working away while snow fell hard and heavy, on a brutal northerly gale.

At 11 I took my coffee outside, under a blue sky dotted with wispy little clouds, ambling along on a gentle breeze.

An hour later I put on the light, as there was none beyond my window. The sun now a distant memory, the sky was the colour of coal.

Vast clouds ripped asunder, unleashing driving crashing hailstones.

In minutes my garden transformed into black and white, above and below. A monochrome vignette for a moment, and then the sun came out and it all melted.

Spring: it doesn’t know where it’s going, and we’re mistaken if we think we can follow nature’s clues.

Naturally our old folk sayings and country maxims make much sense, but also we know that wildlife really hasn’t got a clue.

Flora and fauna respond to whatever the weather delivers, so just because you see a bumblebee buzzing by it doesn’t mean it’s a good time for bumblebees to wake up.

A warm wet February encourages plants to germinate, and then high pressure moves over from the east, bringing a long dry hard freeze that spells curtains for fresh green shoots, as well as the food chain that feeds on the plants now unable to grow.

It’s not all luvvy duvvy harmony and balance out there. Nature’s world is one of chaos, random events and mutations.

We humans have drawn lines that link species, paths of evolution and the ways of DNA, yet we flatter ourselves when we believe we can control the ecosystem.

Destroy the present order of it, yes, but we will not be the last species alive on this planet.

Whatever whichever season delivers, I try to make sure to appreciate it. I’m not going to worry about that bumblebee making it. I’m just pleased to see him fly by.

Planted long ago by someone I know only from their love of nature, bluebells in the tiny bed stand tall and beautiful, while others are popping up under bushes and sprouting from the lawn.

The trees here are tantalisingly close to unfurling their glory, while the hedges are already full of leaf and life, filled with wrens, tits and all manner of tiny beasties scrambling in and out at high speed.

Every year’s first flush of colour, the celandine has gone, passing its yellow flag to breathtaking gasps of primroses, lining the high banks of my driveway.

If I look long enough in any direction and a brown shape will move. Big furry fluffy bunnies flourish round here.

A brace of technicolour pheasants live in the back field, screeching as they flee low overhead, each time the fox comes to visit.

I fear for their chicks, but nature will do what it will.

It’s Spring.

Time to wake up and embrace life.

Yeh, but it’s 5:10 am and no, go away with all your glorious nature stuff. Leave me alone. I’m going back to sleep.

Lovely sleep.

©Charlie Adley

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