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Madison Monday

Madison Monday: Mornings in Madison

By July 15, 20134 Comments

IMG_0840I used to be the kind of person who stayed up late and slept in. I’m pretty certain it was in response to all those years of having an enforced bedtime as a child–a little bit of, “No one can make me go to bed now.” Maybe I romantically thought writers were the people wide awake and staring out the window at one o’clock in the morning.

Whatever the reason, it’s a thing of the past and as an early riser, I’ve discovered a new side of Madison. Here are some of my favorite things about Madison in the morning:

– The fog. Mist. Whatever you want to call it, it’s almost always there. As I’ve written before, almost every morning in downtown Madison looks at first as if it will be cloudy. This morning, I was coming back down 421 after having walked up Hatcher Hill. At first from this vantage point it looks as if there are dark storm clouds on the horizon. But then you see that the clouds are sitting just in the little bowl that is downtown. Above these clouds, the sun is shining.

It gives you the sense that downtown is being targeted in some way. Like the scene in the disaster movie when the foul miasma spreads out over some city. Or better perhaps, that we are being singled out. That at night, we are quietly tucked in under our foggy blanket.

– The quiet. If you get up early enough, the town is yours. Early on Saturday mornings especially, it is like being alone on an abandoned movie set. All the actors have been sent home for the day. There is just you, the empty streets and the beautiful morning light. There is something delightful about quiet in a place that is usually bustling.

Slowly, the quiet begins to fade. The first of the garbage trucks rattles down the street. Someone sweeps their front porch. A lone car goes by. The pace picks up, and there’s a comfort there.

– The river. The river. Always the river. The river in the fog. The river still in shadow as the sun rises over the hill. The river revealed as the fog burns away. The heron that prowl along the banks. The line of ducks paddling along the shore. The bridge in the distance. The river does its own kind of waking, and it is a lovely thing to watch.

What are some of your favorite things about Madison in the morning?


  • Elijah Chandler says:

    It is so loudly quiet in Madison. There are none of the sounds you’re used to hearing during the afternoon so at first you assume it’s really quiet when you step onto the sidewalk at 5 AM, but if you stop and listen for a while you’ll find that there is a wild cacophony going on all around you. You’re just not tuned in to it.

  • C Miller says:

    When I was a teenager, my parents owned a small restaurant on Mulberry St. All profit was made on Fri & Sat nights when people started leaving the bars for the night. We stayed open until 4am, and we all worked those all-night hours. One of my best memories is walking up to Main St after everyone was cleared out, all the cleanup was done, and my parents were just left adding up sales from the night. Silence. Literally so quiet you could hear the light change from red to green. If it had been a particularly long night, the sun would often be coming up as we were leaving for the night. And yes, it was almost always foggy.

    • Robyn Ryle says:

      That sounds wonderful. I don’t know if I’ll be making it until 4 am any time soon, but wish there was still a restaurant that stayed open that late. I don’t think Hinkle’s does anymore, does it?

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