Saturday, March 8, 2008

Daylight Saving Time

The time changes tonight, and this reminds me of one of my favorite passages from Annie Dillard's brilliant essay "Total Eclipse," from her 1982 collection Teaching a Stone to Talk:

"What you see in an eclipse is entirely different from what you know. It is especially different for those of us whose grasp on astronomy is so frail that, given a flashlight, a grapefruit, two oranges, and fifteen years, we still could not figure out which way to set the clocks for Daylight Saving Time. Usually it is a bit of a trick to keep your knowledge from blinding you."

I feel impossibly stupid when I contemplate the time change for too long. While I understand it on the scientific level (sort of), I find myself spending too much time thinking about where that missing hour tonight will go. I read somewhere recently that Indiana did not use Daylight Saving Time until 2006. Who made that decision? Did people vote on it? I also heard that parts of that state were recently switched from the Eastern Time Zone to the Central. What happens to that time that is lost? Or is it gained? I'm reminded of one my favorite bits from the David Leavitt novel The Lost Language of Cranes (and its film version), in which a character reads a children's book set in a house located on the exact border between two time zones. When it's noon in the kitchen, it's one o'clock in the living room. Easy to miss lunch.

Enjoy the longer days. Spring is coming.

1 comment:

Noah Soudrette said...

Well, when you consider that which we use to gauge the passing of time (a certain number of transitional perturbations in the magnetic energy levels of the particles of caesium atoms), no wonder you can't think about it too long.