4:30 a.m. is too early for anything I thought when I overheard this. Still.... it is the time that these Starbucks employees get to work every morning; a time I am mostly unfamiliar with, (no, not even on black Friday.) If by chance I am awake at this crazy hour I simply feel relieved that I still have more time to sleep.
On the other hand, there is a stillness about the early morning that is enticing to many writers. I once read a quote: I never regret the thing I get up in the middle of the night to write. After a rest, I can imagine the brain is ready to accomplish great things in the quiet of those early hours; pre-children, pre-traffic, pre-to-do lists and dirty dishes and cell phone conference calls. These are the hours that count, and I am missing them. It would be sad if I wasn't self-enlightened enough to realize that I could only manage six hours of sleep for a couple of days before taking it out on my children, husband and friends.
What I think I could, and should, manage however is to experience that time of the morning once in a while; just to better understand the rhythm of it. Writing time, without spelling it out on a clock, has always been a challenge for me. But there are clues, when a writer knows them, that can help describe time of day without the need for a colon.
Smells like coffee and toast versus garlic and candlewax can show not only when the character is but also where. The sounds from traffic, or the lack of it, birds singing, music, children all of these things can be clues; assuming they are targeted at the right audience. Children's bickering, for example, would help a mom place time of day at that hellish hour before dinner. The same noise, to a young single reader, however, would probably have little meaning.
So, starting today, my notebook gets a new category: setting descriptors. For a while wherever (and whenever) I go someplace I plan to use all five senses to describe what is around me. A side benefit is that I will be meeting another goal I have for the holiday season.... to live more in the moment.
If I specifically do this at familiar places but during unusual times I bet I'll discover all kinds of new words to describe my environment; And (if I am really lucky) I might even get oa slice of cake.