As spring has sprung, I’ve heard many remarks about its beauty, folks proclaiming it their favorite season, and the sound of sneezing as blooming allergens make their presence known. The other day, a friend waxed on about how clean, fresh, green(!), and new everything appeared. I could almost hear newborn lambs bleating as a soundtrack to our conversation. After experiencing last summer’s drought, I have to admit that fresh, green, and alive is a welcome sight.
But, as I told my friend, I think I love the fall more. Whereas spring comes upon us gently, autumn makes its appearance, it seems, suddenly with a dramatic flair. In spring, an exclusively light green palette predominates, but in fall, we are regaled with reds, oranges, yellows, and browns, backdropped by the deep green of evergreens. The nicest part is the air that is infused with a smell that is so peculiarly autumnal. Moreover, that smell long ago became associated with the excitement of starting a new school year, buying new spirals and school clothes, pep rallies, football games, and being back with our friends. With school years far behind in my rear view mirror, I still feel that rush of possibilities.
While summer was a great time of year for a kid who enjoyed swim lessons, camp, and trips to visit grandparents, after those things were over and done, the long hot days of August in Texas, with nothing to do, seemed to wear on too long. Our mothers, too, ran out of patience with us traipsing in the house after playing Barbies for 3 hours with girlfriends, proclaiming that we had “nothing to do!” It was too hot to play hop scotch because the sidewalks burned our feet. We asked for eggs to fry on the sidewalk to prove our point.
That never happened in the fall. We folded book covers on our school books, wrote notes to friends to pass off in class the next day, practiced for sports, looked forward to parties. If it could only last for a few more months with its crisp days of high-definition colors after the summer days with their haze of heated evaporation. If only the leaves would dance a little longer on the branches and in the air. If only the cold, death knell of winter could be put off a little longer. As I write, I realize it sounds a bit like the season of my life right now.
Meanwhile, I accept the fact that folks can differ about the seasons, but what there seems little dispute about – at least here in the south – is Daylight Savings Time (“DST”). As everyone knows, we recently went through the change. . . springing our clocks forward, losing a “mere” hour in clock time, but losing many more hours as our bodies and minds, wrested from the rhythm of Mother Nature, make their needed adjustments.
I suppose DST works well for countries that are far north and want to experience more daylight hours, except that they make the change in the summer when the globe is already tilting to give them more sunlight. Sounds a bit greedy to me. If you’ve been to St. Petersburg in June, you daylight lovers will have the delightful experience of 24 hours of daylight. Winter, of course, presents the opposite phenomenon. Wouldn’t it make more sense to tinker with the clock in the winter when folks are in endless dark? Or even in those locales that experience darkness at 3:00 or 4:00?
But during our southern summers, all we get is endless heat. It would be nice to go home after work and not have another 3 hours in the same heat we just endured while driving home in vehicles with air conditioning being generated to the max, thereby increasing our gas usage and overheating radiators stuck in traffic.
Of course, you often hear about sports aficionados that want to have more daylight time for sports, but our fields have lights. I have long pitied those Little League parents who sit through the practices and games in 100 degree daylight, wearing hats, wetting bandanas with their water bottles to wipe off the sweat. And is it really good for the kids?
And on the subject of energy savings, I fail to see how much is saved by this change in time – we still get up and get out of the house, heading for schools and offices – but at the end of the day the temperature is at its hottest and we have to find salvation with air conditioning, extra baths, showers, icemakers, and a whole panoply of electrical coping devices running at full tilt. We develop strategies to wait in our cocoons – to take our evening stroll, walk across the street to get the mail, or walk the dog – until the sun is going down and the sidewalks have cooled down.
In this political atmosphere of Texas Republicans eschewing everything the federal government imposes upon the states, I’m surprised they don’t go for something easy like DST. They don’t even have to file suit against the government or present a case before the Justice Department. Just pass a law. Declare your independence from this yoke of federalism, boys!!!
Whenever I think about opting out this time change, I’m reminded of Henry Sanchez, a state representative from Brownsville, Texas, who introduced a bill back in 1971 to exempt Texas from DST. On the floor of the House, he stood at the front podium explicating facts and figures that demonstrated the burden the time change imposed on Texas citizens. He also explained that it was unpopular as shown by the amount of mail he had received from his constituents expressing their opposition to the time change. To demonstrate his point, he enlisted a couple of young assistant sergeant-at-arms to pull some loaded postal bags to the podium. Unfortunately, another representative asked to see the contents of the bags and since Rep. Sanchez could not really avoid their opening, it was revealed to all that the bags contained old newspapers, not constituent letters in opposition to anything. In an attempt to save face, Rep. Sanchez explained that folks in the Valley weren’t prolific letter-writers, but they told him of their opposition all summer long. Needless to say, the bill did not pass. But thanks for trying, Henry!
Bottom line, I might consider DST a blessing in the winter, but if anything, we need to shorten daylight in the summer. As global warming gets worse (no matter what your theory on its cause), an hour or two less of these long 100 degree summer days would be a big relief.
And, needless to say, another reason to love autumn.