Sunday, March 11, 2018

We've sprung forward.

Here at hearth/myth, we are in the Eastern time zone of the United States -- and so, as sure as spring (eventually) follows winter, we set our clocks forward an hour last night.

Not everybody in the US observes Daylight Saving Time (DST). Arizona and Hawaii don't. Neither do our territories, which include Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands. However, the Navajo reservation, which is partly in Arizona, does observe DST.

I hope the National Trust doesn't sue me for using this.
And folks in Europe have another couple of weeks before they have to set their clocks to Summer Time -- which explains why the National Trust thought it fitting one year to post the accompanying photo, showing workers moving the standing stones at Avebury in preparation for the time change in Britain (note the date on the article is April 1).

We go through this folderol twice a year -- setting our clocks an hour ahead in the spring and turning them back in the fall -- supposedly to help farmers. But as it turns out, it wasn't farmers who wanted daylight earlier in the day. No, this brilliant practice first began in Germany in 1916, with the hope that it would help save energy during World War I. But the original idea came from Britain -- from a fellow named William Willett, who suggested in 1907 that it would be fabulous if we had more daylight hours after work to enjoy ourselves in. He also thought we'd use less artificial light if the day started later.

Energy savings sounded pretty good to Americans, who enacted Daylight Saving Time in 1918. But we let the states set their own dates for daylight time, which caused a lot of problems for shipping companies and everyone else trying to get somewhere on time. It got so bad that Congress enacted official nationwide dates for the time changes in 1966.

I remember the clocks in my junior high classrooms were set an hour earlier during part of the 1971-72 school year, but I can't remember why. Maybe it had to do with the 1972 amendment to that 1966 law that allowed most of Indiana to stay on Eastern time all year around. (By the way, that went out the window in 2006; all of Indiana now observes daylight time.)

Time was always relative in my neighborhood, anyway. I mentioned a second ago that most of Indiana is on Eastern time -- except for a few counties in the northwestern corner and a few more in the southwest "toe of the sock," which are on Central time. I grew up in LaPorte County, one of the Central time zone counties. Our house was three blocks from the Michigan state line, and Michigan was on Eastern time. Michigan and Chicago observed daylight time, as did we; most of Indiana, including South Bend (our nearest big city in Indiana) and Indianapolis (the state capital), did not. So we were always on the same time as Chicago; we were always an hour behind Michigan; and we were either an hour behind or on the same time as South Bend.

You get used to it. But then you go away for a while and forget. The first time after I'd gotten a cell phone that I visited my mother, the alarm on my phone never went off. Signal strength was iffy in Michiana anyway back then, and I figured the phone had switched from a tower in Michigan to one in Indiana, or vice versa, during the crucial period. I made a point thereafter to set my phone to the "show this time, not that time" setting when I visited Mom.

Anyway, compared to what I grew up with, changing time twice a year is a piece of cake. Still, it would be great if we could quit messing around with the clocks altogether. Farmers actually hate daylight time, as it turns out. And a study done in Indiana after the whole state began to observe daylight time showed it doesn't help energy consumption; in fact, it makes it worse.

So there is absolutely no good reason why we'll spend the next week groggy and cranky while our bodies adjust to a practice that's based entirely on a British guy's whim. Why, I'm feeling cranky already.

These moments of time-challenged blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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