Monday, March 14, 2016

Let there be daylight savings time. (Ahh, ahhh, ahhhhhhh….)*

Well, over the weekend, we sprung ahead, clock-wise. So now it’s light into the evening. Psychologically, this is a biggy. Sure, we’ve been getting used to later-in-the-day in itsy-bitsy increments since December. And your really do begin to notice things lightening up by late January. But when we get the extra-hour in one fell swoop, the great leap forward, it’s a thing of beauty, a joy forever. At this point, we begin to believe that there actually will be a spring.

Some years, we appreciate this more than others. Last year, for example, when us hearty New Englanders felt like we were stuck in an endless recitation of John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem “Snow-Bound.” Last year, well, Daylight Savings Time couldn’t come fat enough.

This year, not so much. Not so much snow. Not so much cold. Lots of eerily early spring – we’ve already hit the 70’s a couple of times. That shouldn’t happen in March…

Nonetheless, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t look forward to Daylight Savings Time; who wasn’t delighted, years back, when Daylight Savings Time fell back from April to March, so that we could spring ahead sooner.

But I, of course, do not know everybody. And both spring-ahead and fall-back bring out a lot of different viewpoints about what to do with Daylight Savings Time.

There are the “let’s get rid of it.” They say that farmers deserve that extra hour of light to work their 40 acres with a mule who doesn’t know what time zone he toils in. They claim that daylight savings time brings out muggers, They say that there are more accidents driving in the dark in the morning heading to work, than driving in the dark in the evening heading for home. They say it’s dangerous for the kids, waiting for their school buses in the dark.

There are the “let’s make it permanent” folks, who argue that most people would rather have that extra hour of daylight at the end of their workday than at the beginning. I come down on this side. Give me the dark in the morning, but let there be light later in the day. If it’s too dangerous for the kiddos, lets take a look at those who are arguing that school should start later in the day, anyway. Their point is that teenagers, because of their peculiar circadian cycles, don’t get the right amount of REM sleep. I realize that the kiddos folks are worried about are the kindergartners, not the high schoolers. Still, we could figure this out. 

Still others just want to eliminate the semi-annual switcheroo, and don’t seem to care whether we take our darkness a.m. or p.m. Their point seems to be that adjusting your internal clock is just plain bad for everyone’s health. (I have to ask how these folks cope when they want to travel outside of their time zone. How do you handle jet lag after an all-nighter to Europe if you can’t manage an hour twice a year. Do they just stay home?)

I suspect that most of those arguing on behalf of the farmers, who want to eliminate daylight savings time, don’t live at the beginning of a time zone. Maybe I’d feel different if I lived in Ohio, where they get more light in the evening to begin with. In Boston, we’re on the leading edge. More sun in the morning for all those urban farmer types. More dark at night for everyone else.

More recently, another faction has emerged: those who want New England (or all of New England other than the New York commuting counties in Connecticut) should get on American Standard Time and just stay put. Voila: we’re at the end of the time zone, so we get daylight at the back end of the day. We’d be with the Maritime Provinces. We’d almost be Canadians. (Given what might be looming for us, this might not be a bad idea.) The problem with this is that we’d no longer be in the same time zone as the rest of the East Coast, which seems like kind of a dumb thing to do. New York for the day? Change time zones! Head to DC for a protest march. Change time zones! Take the kids to Disneyworld. Change time zones!

I don’t see this working out all that well. We really are more identified with the Eastern Seaboard of the US than we are with PE Islanders. Plus I wouldn’t want to stay up until 11 p.m. to watch The Americans when the new season starts this week. Okay, I can catch it on demand any old time I want. But maybe I want to see it in real-time.

Mostly, I’m just happy to have that extra hour of light at the end of the day. Let the evening walks begin!

*In case you’re wondering, that was an angelic chorus.

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