I don't know what devilish little inkling or misfiring urge nudges my children awake well before the sun has made its slanted debut in the eastern sky.
This I do know: It is not a phase, it's a chronic condition. We could set our clock by the sound of two nonskid feet padding across wood floors, pushing our door slowly, hesitantly open as if not really trying to wake us. Or it's the other one, calling out "Mommeeee milkeeee" from her crib as if room service is late again.
Grind up that coffee, it's 6 a.m., perhaps even 5:45.
There is no cure. Not later bedtimes, not shorter naps, not dark window shades, not daylight savings time.
Oh, but have we seen sunrises. Playdoh pink and traffic-cone orange woven like a curtain over Raider Ridge that lifts to announce the sun's grand entrance. We've seen raccoons scuttling around the quiet streets, puffy rear ends nudging the air. We've been the first family to stimulate the Durango economy on a random, snowy morning, spilling out of strollers right onto the Doughworks front step.
Before sunrises are stars. Whoever trudges through the coal-black morning to retrieve the newspaper will grab a kid in pajamas and point out the last twinklers, including Scorpio, available only to the early-morning club, shining with all the brilliant fury of a constellation soon to be snuffed by the sun.
Who's to say it's actually morning yet - with stars pulsing and coons humpbacking around? My friend Sue contends that if it's before 6 a.m., it's still the middle of the night. Her kids, like many of Col's cronies are just sampling their agave-sweetened blueberry yogurt by the time my children are scratching at the cage of their four walls trying to find a way out. Col and Rose already are fed, clothed, paint-stained and have had several skirmishes over who gets to hold the long, gold screw from Daddy's job site; the clock curiously reads 8 a.m.
I know we're not the only household buzzing around before dawn. My friend Karin's son routinely is up between 4:30 and 5 a.m. Not up like cuddling quietly in the dark, but jumping on Mama's head while train-whistling.
I suspect this predawn rising was common enough for some genius to invent early morning cartoons. Perhaps it's wired into our DNA to get a jump on the stack of farm chores that used to pile up like today's e-mails in our inboxes.
There are eggs to collect, the cows' udders are bursting and someone better start the fire for morning coffee; kids are not excluded. Before even agriculture, the successful hunters already were behind their hunting blinds, arrows ready, well before my urchins pop their eyes open.
I suppose someday I'll be shaking my slumbering children awake to start the race to get fed, dressed and groomed before school.
Perhaps I'll still arise at the crack of 6 a.m. to catch that kodachrome sunrise; perhaps I'll just dream on.
Rachel Turiel has lived in Durango for 13 years; the first nine were spent in the mountains. Her column runs every first and third Sunday. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.