Daylight Savings Time is here! That means this morning we “spring ahead,” and reset all of our clocks exactly one hour later, so the daylight will last longer at night.
“Spring ahead!” in the spring, and “fall back!” in the fall. It’s easy to remember, isn’t it?
Except, what if it isn’t quite spring yet? Here in Columbus, it’s a bracing 24 degrees out on this crisp, cold, dry morning, and we’re looking at a high of 43 — if we’re lucky. Temperatures in the 20s and 30s? That’s not what I call spring-like weather, when the air is supposed to feel moist and there is a faint scent of growing plant life on the sultry breeze. Here in the Midwest, unfortunately, it feels like we’re trapped in the icy grip of Old Man Winter, and he just won’t go away gracefully.
There needs to be a Daylight Savings Time saying for this unending winter condition, too. How about: “Don’t mess with the clock when the cold is a shock”? Or: “The time shouldn’t be changed when the weather is deranged”?
Or maybe we need to work with what we’ve already got, and just make a few punctuation changes here and there. Instead of “spring ahead!” we should go with “spring, ahead?” instead, to acknowledge the concerns of those of us who wonder whether blessed, sultry, promising spring will ever get here.
Maine is in the Eastern Time Zone. So is Columbus — which is located in the heart of the Midwest, hundreds and hundreds of miles west of Maine.
So how does that work, exactly? It’s simple — coming to Maine is like doing a second round of Daylight Savings Time. The photo above, with is dusky sunset glow, was taken at about 4 p.m. here in Stonington. It will be pitch dark by 4:30. In the morning, the sun rises a little after 6. Everything happens an hour or so earlier in Maine than it does in Columbus. Ben Franklin, the father of Daylight Savings Time, would love it here.
Speaking of everything happening an hour earlier here, I’m late for cocktail hour.
“Spring ahead, fall back.” The shifting of hours and the changing of clocks in connection with Daylight Savings Time has been going on for as long as I can remember.
As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve come to appreciate the “fall back” part of the process more and more. What the heck! It’s autumn, and it’s getting colder. Why not stay snug in your warm bed for an extra hour? And after staying out later than normal last night, getting home after midnight after enjoying the Buckeyes’ drubbing of Illinois at Ohio Stadium, the extra hour of shut-eye is even more welcome. The fact that it’s a shivery 28 degrees outside just confirms the wisdom of this timekeeping sleight-of-hand.
So I’d like to thank the ever-creative Benjamin Franklin, who came up with the concept of Daylight Savings Time in 1784 as a method to save on candles. I’d like to thank the New Zealanders, Brits, and Germans who helped to popularize the idea, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who implemented the idea in America as a war-time measure during World War II. And I’d like to thank the United States Congress, which enacted the Uniform Time Act of 1966 to finally implement Daylight Savings Time as we now know it.
Ben Franklin was all of 78 years old when he came up with the idea for shifting clocks to save a candle or two. You think the idea might have been motivated by the notion of getting an extra hour of sleep on a cold autumn morning?
On this morning walk I spied a most welcome sight: a few tender, trembling, bright green shoots had pushed through the permafrost. Could spring, and warmth, and color, and flowers, actually lie ahead?
Speaking of spring ahead, be sure to set your clocks an hour ahead if you haven’t done so already. And if you’re cursing the jerk who first came up with this idea that costs us an hour of sleep each spring, his name apparently was Ben Franklin. Richard has a good story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that gives a bit of the back story.
You never fully realize how many clocks you have in the house until it’s a “time change” Sunday and you have to patrol the household and make sure that every time-keeping instrument is set to the correct hour.
It’s a day that shows how beholden we are to time. We’ve got clocks on our phones, on our computers, on our stoves, on our microwaves, and on our TVs. There’s a clock on the dashboard of my car. We’ve got standalone clocks and alarm clocks and clock radios. We have more than a dozen clocks in our two-person, two-dog household — and that’s without any wristwatches, because I stopped wearing one years ago. It’s hard to believe that our ancestors lived for generations without having any kind of timepiece telling them it’s 6:56 a.m.
When it’s time to actually change the time, I develop a special appreciation for computers and smartphones that automatically adjust to Standard Time. The Sunbeam alarm clocks are next on the simplicity appreciation meter, because you can quickly change the position of the hands on the clock with a twist of a knob on the back. The clock radio and the microwave are a little bit tougher, because you have to hold down a button and hit another button until the time adjusts to the new normal.
And then there is the clock on the oven, which was designed by some sadistic engineer who wanted to torment sleepy people on a Sunday morning in November. I can never figure out how to change the clock, so after a few half-hearted attempts and some well-chosen epithets I give up. After all, it’s only a few months until Daylight Savings Time rolls around again.
Two hopeful signs of spring this weekend: this morning I saw that the swans have returned to our New Albany pond, and tomorrow morning at 2 a.m. we will all “spring ahead” into Daylight Savings Time.
With the swans dunking their heads and long necks into pond water that was frozen only a few days ago, and sunshine that will last well into the evening, can spring be far behind? Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead tomorrow!
Yesterday I was going through the checkout line at Kroger when the disturbingly exuberant checkout lady piped: “Remember to ‘spring ahead’ tonight!”
I understand that Daylight Savings Time requires us to adjust our clocks twice, at what seem to be increasingly random and ever changing points during the year. Obviously, it’s something you need to be aware of, so you don’t show up an hour late for an important meeting on Monday morning. But is it really something to be so darned chipper about?
My guess is that the people who gaily remind everyone to “spring ahead” are the same people who like being called “peppy.” They probably were on the high school cheer squad and student council, voluntarily sat in the front row and then talked to the teacher after class, kept a detailed “secret diary,” and talked incessantly to their friends about their “pet peeves.”
Have you ever noticed that no random people you encounter during the day remind you to “fall back”? That’s because the Chipper Brigade loathes the idea of spending an extra hour in bed and doesn’t want to dwell on it. On the other hand, the “fall back” people aren’t going to bother you — they figure you’ll figure it out eventually, and in the meantime they just want to get some more sleep.