Posted by: pendrops | March 11, 2008

gaining time


This weekend, my father-in-law and I got into a friendly debate about the history and validity of Daylight Savings Time.

He argued that Congress enacted it during early 20th century war time in an effort to save energy. He also argued that it’s an obsolete practice now since we aren’t up against the same challenges as our WWI and WWII predecessors.

In turn, I argued that DST was instituted by Congress for farmers. I didn’t have many details, just a weak recollection of an NPR news snippet about DST being introduced several decades ago to help a largely agrarian society. I also argued that DST is great – no two ways about it. Just great.

I wasn’t incredibly invested in the discussion, though the room did get a bit warm with said debate. I wasn’t invested until tonight.

Three days after springing back, I must say, I don’t feel a loss. In fact, as I sit here watching the sun slip beneath the horizon at seven o’clock rather than six, I feel as though I’m getting away with something. Getting away with gaining time. The extra sunlight sneaking its way later into the day has given me something of a renewed energy, refreshed vitality and restored optimism.

I was wrong about the origins of Daylight Savings Time. I concede that pop-in-law had his historical facts essentially correct regarding our current practice of springing forward and falling back each year.

But I hope we always gain an hour in the fall to lose it in the spring. There’s some kind of expectancy, some new life, in that lingering light casting late shadows outside my window. And I can’t help favoring the light that creeps later and later into the night.



  1. I agree with you! There has been an extra flair in my step and smile on my face when I have left work this week. Hooray for spring quickly approaching!

  2. Where we currently live we have yet to “spring-forward”, so I still have some time to pense these thoughts you’ve penned. Off-the-cuff, however, I might offer this “pondery” to the quandary of DST: if, in fact, this idea of “gaining time” was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin on a whim while living in Paris, as some purport (, then what’s on trial here is his hypothesis on the thrift of natural vs. artificial lighting. [I will say nothing of the infectious nodes of the Frenchmen who accompanied him in those days, as I do not wish to start more quarrels than I can finish in just one sitting.] More to the point, his proposition was aimed at “saving energy”, to which one might beg the question (aesthetics of more daylight being available during normal waking hours notwithstanding, if there are such things as normal waking hours) of whether or not we’re still saving energy today by changing the times and seasons as we do. I guess farmers in Indiana would be the best ones to service us with their expert advice on that subject, to which I must then interject a more central and perhaps philosophical question. With regard to Mr. Franklin’s economic treatise on the conservation of energy, “do we override certain natural safeguards placed upon us and our natural environment during the creation event when we use artificial energy to light our lamps, stay up late into the night, and at times neglect the natural ebb and flow of sunset, sleep and sunrise?” After all, wasn’t it Franklin who said, “Early to bed, early to rise…”? A somber point to ponder for one, such as myself, who enjoys burning the midnight oil – natural resources bedimmed! When was the last sunrise I was awake to actually enjoy, here in the land of the Nord?

  3. I’m more of a winter guy myself, but I’ll have to admit that the later sunlight is refreshing. I like how you phrased it in terms of expectancy.

    BRIAN – Dude, it sounds like you guys need some sun over there. A little Vitamin D will balance out the insanity.


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