Cows, chickens unaffected by time change

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

By the time you read this I’m probably already late for church.

If you forgot to set your alarm clock ahead one hour before you went to bed you likely are late too.

But it’s only March, you say. Welcome to the new and improved daylight-saving time. Approved by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2005 daylight-saving in the U.S. now runs from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.

I’ve never objected too much one way or another whether or not we had daylight-saving time. My parents and grandparents all hated it though. Mainly because it caused chores in the fall that had to be done in the dark in order to get kids off to school. If you milked a cow or drove a school bus — jobs my parents and grandparents did — you didn’t like getting up in the dark.

They were dawn to dusk oriented as are most rural families. Getting up with the rooster and going to bed with the chickens was a way of life — it didn’t really matter what the clock said unless you were going to town for something.

My mother in particular has always griped about daylight-saving time. “It’s just a way for city folks to get in an extra round of golf,” she would say.

I always doubted her argument until I researched it a little online.

It seems that Benjamin Franklin, like a lot of other things, may have had his fingers in daylight-saving time. While living in Paris he picked on the French people in a letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris. Telling them how many candles they could save if they went to bed earlier and rose earlier. By that time he was already famous for his “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” saying.

But mom was right, it was golfing lawmakers both in the U.S. and Britain who pressed the fight to have a day-light saving time in modern days. William Willett championed the idea in Britain in 1907 because he disliked cutting his round short at dusk, according to an entry on Wikipedia.com.

That same article says the U.S. first adopted it during World War I but following the war farmers lobbied for its repeal. Congress complied, but avid golfer President Woodrow Wilson vetoed the measure.

Since then our sun worship has waxed and waned with the times and the politics of the day. So it has been with me. With some work schedules I’ve loved it, with others I’ve hated it.

In northwestern Colorado, where I lived a few years ago, the difference in the length of the day because of the sun angle is pretty noticeable. So when I lived there it didn’t get good and dark until nearly 10 p.m. in the summer. Going to work in the fall over icy roads while it wasn’t quite light wasn’t a lot of fun either.

Now my work schedule prevents me from getting to bed much before 1 a.m. anyway so losing daylight hours in the morning while I normally sleep is a good thing. The extra hour of light to take photographs by will be a bonus for my vocation. I won’t have to use a flash, so I’ll be saving energy, which is what the president had in mind.

The later change in the fall will also have its good and bad points.

Children won’t be trick-or-treating in the dark. But their cavity rate will rise.

Some of our elections will be held with daylight-saving time in effect. But more daylight won’t make the candidates we choose from any better.

Among the best anecdotes listed on the Web site webexhibits.org is the story of a man who circumvented the draft because of confusion caused over the recording of his date of birth because of daylight-saving time.

There was also the story of the West Bank terrorists who delivered a bomb to counterparts in Israel to be placed on a bus. With Israel on daylight-saving time and the West Bank on standard time, the terrorists became confused about the time and blew themselves up.

The Web site also points out that twins born straddling the time change can actually have their official birth order reversed with one either springing forward or falling back past their sibling.

I may be late to church, but with no cows to milk, I may actually find time to hit some golf balls this afternoon.