As Winter Intensive winds down, and we have all been together for two weeks, my usual morning routines here at Sterling are coming back to me. The sun is rising just a little before 7:00 A.M this time of the year. The dorm is quiet and peaceful. I don’t dare turn on a light or tread too heavily for the desire to maintain this serenity.
The mornings have a special energy about them: sometimes sunny and bright, sometimes dense with overcast, but always gentle regardless if I’m off to do pre-breakfast chores, need to finish a reading assignment for class, or just spending an extra minute to tuck my thermals into my socks so they don’t get eaten by my snow boots.
Of course, it really wouldn’t be a morning at Sterling without breakfast in Dunbar, and my breakfast starts with coffee. From there, I might have a bowl of homemade yogurt and granola, or a build-your-own Eggs Benedict, or pancakes with Sterling-made maple syrup, and I slip into some easy conversation before the first 8:30 class.
Few people who meet me now would ever believe that I once thought expecting someone to wake up before 9:00 wasn’t much more than torture, but these are people who didn’t know me in high school. That was when my ideal bedtime was 3:00 A.M and my morning routine involved 30 minutes of protest and 15 minutes of frantic autopilot to get out the door on time.
The daily rhythm of life at Sterling is so different from other settings I’ve lived in. We eat breakfast at 7:30, dinner at 6:00, and I’m just about always in bed by 10:00. And you get into it, when that’s what most of the community is doing.
Sometimes I joke that Sterling must be the only college out there that turns its students into morning people, but it’s not really a joke at all. Sterling taught me how to enjoy the morning, and in a place as beautiful as the rural Northeast Kingdom, it really wasn’t hard.