“Daylight in the swamps!” has been my dad’s familiar cry every morning for as long as I can remember. It was the alarm clock for my three brothers and me to get up and ready for school or whatever, each day of our lives while living at home.
That announcement was always just something my dad said to irritate us kids as far as I was concerned.
And in all those many years, I never really put two and two together to come up with what exactly that phrase meant, until just recently!
I mentioned this peculiarity of my dad’s to my son-in-law a while ago and he gave me this explanation. His grandfather was a logger up here in northern Minnesota where there are a lot of swampy areas.
“Daylight in the swamps! ” meant that it was time to get up and start the day. “We’re losing daylight, let’s get going.”
Loggers heard that cry, or words to that effect, every morning when they began their day and especially throughout the logging camps during the late 1880s and long into the mid-1900s.
There are a lot of swampy, boggy areas up here on the Iron Range of Minnesota. And the majority of the logging done takes place during the winter months when the swampy, boggy areas are frozen solid.
That’s when the heavy machinery can get into the forests and bogs to cut down the trees and the trucks can drive in to haul them away.
In the olden days, it was the horses that went into the forests and pulled out the logs.
So of course, it was easier to pull logs out on frozen terrain, because the logs would slide better.
Winter was a very busy time of the year for loggers and still is for that matter.
Well, bringing this all back around to my dad, he worked for the forestry service in Washington State when he was young, so probably picked up that term then.
And now hubby and I live on a 120-acre farm with several swampy, boggy areas on it, where the sun rises very early each morning. And in fact, rose at 6:00 a.m. this morning.
Sunrise will get progressively earlier each morning until it comes up at 4:30 a.m. in the middle of the summer. What fun that is!
I’m already an early riser “morning person” myself, but when the sun comes up that early my circadian clock kicks in and I’m up at the crack of dawn!
It’s a wonderful and majestic eye-opener of a morning up here every day, but especially in April and May, my favorite time of year up here.
When the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, flowers are coming up and the leaves of the trees and the catkins of the willows are budding, there’s no place quite so beautiful.
Now I know what Dad meant when he greeted us each morning and said, “Daylight in the Swamps!”
Time to get up and out of bed. Rejoice in the day the Lord has made!
3 thoughts on “"Daylight in the Swamps!"”
My Dad, who grew up in various small towns in MN, WI, IA would yell:
“Wake up you Sodbusters, it’s daylight in the swamps!”
Thanks for the background info!
Thank you, Cathryn, for recording the “rooting” of the expression: “Rise and shine ! It’s daylight in the swamp!! “. My Dad – who was a forester from the University of Minnesota – graduating during the depression of the 1930’s; and, working his way westward through CCC camp “employment” until he could get a USDA/Forest Service appointment into the federal agency where he spent his career doing what he loved – used to awaken my brother and me with that old , familiar greeting when we were boys. There was a cartoon caricature around our home, in which some of the characters depicted gave me the impression that the timber camp was in the Georgian pines or the Louisianian pines. It it gratifying, though, to learn that the siting of the expression is along The Northern Tier of The Lake States in the piney-bogs there.
What a hoot Bob, nice to know that we kids were in good company. Happy to hear our dad was not the only one to wake up his kids in this manner!