Quit fiddling with the clock | Editorial

The days start getting longer in late December, but it usually takes weeks before we suddenly notice the difference.

This week on Whidbey has been like that. Wednesday was dead-winter dark because of the thick gray clouds, rain and wind, but the sun returned Thursday and it seemed surprisingly early. It rose at 7:02 a.m. and set at 5:44 p.m., giving us 10 hours and 42 minutes of daylight. Those of us who arrived early to work and have an eastern exposure had to draw the shades to keep the sunlight off our eyeglasses and computer screens. By 7:58 the clouds had returned, but the weather forecasters were predicting a nice day, lasting until Friday when the rain was supposed to return.

This gentle and surprising transition from winter to spring gives us approximately two extra minutes of sunlight each morning and two extra minutes of sunlight each afternoon. It’s a calm, relaxing, natural cycle, one the mind and body can adjust to in nature’s time.

And then, daylight savings time comes along and ruins it all.

Daylight savings time this year occurs at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 11, like a punch in the gut to the gentle rhythm of the seasons. One day the sun is rising at 6:35 a.m., the next day it rises at 7:03 p.m. This is an abomination. Nature was taking care of the time change in its own sweet way, and then Congress steps in to make a mess of it.

There is something called standard time, which is what happens when daylight savings time is not in effect. The study of time is dizzying so we won’t get into how standard time evolved. Suffice it to say that after the clock was invented the world had time, and it was standard. But Congress will fiddle with anything once it exists, from the clock to the Internet. So it couldn’t help but fiddle with the clock.

Congress now dictates the time the sun will rise and the time the sun will set. It’s hubris, and it’s annoying to people who enjoy the natural cycle of things and hate to reset the digits on the refrigerator clock, microwave clock, car clocks and wrist watches twice a year. It’s driving us cuckoo, which reminds us there’s another clock whose hands must be moved forward one hour or we’ll wake up to find we missed Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood.

Congress should leave the clock alone. Who knows, it might discover that leaving things alone is generally the best course and many of its new laws and regulation are just a waste of time.


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