Saturday, November 1, 2008

saving daylight, saving time

In this morning's local paper, this article (click here) mentioned how the supposed benefits/effects of switching back and forth from daylight savings time to 'normal' time aren't really substantiated by data.

No matter...Most of you reading this have either already 'fallen back' or will have awaken on Sunday an hour "later" than the new "real" standard time.

But not here in Arizona--one of the few places in North America to buck the trend. Why? Simple answer--with the blast-furnace summer days, no one here wants an 'extra hour of daylight,' and so all year long, we simply go with the solar flow and stick to the same time.

During the decade I lived in Seattle, I would always be shocked by the sudden shift on that first Monday after the return to 'standard time' when I would find myself driving home from work in the newly nighted afternoon...
That extra hour of already dwindling light--suddenly subtracted from my day, an unfair dark-tax imposed on us by the autumnal clock!

No such sudden light-deficit here, where the fall shift is gradual, even if today's thermometer still registered around 90-degrees in the afternoon...

Incidentally, right now, this is the night/day division of the earth:

(click here to see current night/day view of the planet)

The shorter days have moved my Sat.-a.m. bike-ride starting time up to 6 a.m. now...but a few more weeks and it'll be too dark even then. About 2/3 of the way through the bike ride , the sun finally peaks over the Rincon mountains, illuminating the Santa Catalina mountains to the north:
(cell-phone camera-view from last Saturday; this morning was pretty much the same...)

All this obsessing over hours and minutes and angles of shadows...
...mortality driving me to be so time-conscious?
Is this the reality that lies behind the aesthetic appreciation of 'moments of beauty?'
Perhaps this is why photography is appreciated:
its attempts to freeze time, allowing our gaze to stand still forever, momentarily...

Out at the Arizona/Sonora Desert Museum the other day,
spending the afternoon with out-of-town guests,
friends I'd grown up with whom I'd not seen for a few years,
dragonflies landing ever so briefly in the sunlight,
as if time could pause on a branch, then freeze...

So...clocks all set?

W. H. Auden, the English poet, began one of his poems, a succinct description of what it feels like when a loved one dies, like this:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos...

We stop to look at, and we try to remember to set clocks, and, not able to go back, we sometimes to try to stop what they tick off...

I'm not a huge fan of Charles Baudelaire, the 19th-century French poet, but his poem "L'Horloge" ("The Clock") comes to mind. In it, "The Clock" is personified as a 'sinister calm evil god' that 'time is a greedy gambler who always wins' and 'The Second whispers three thousand six hundred times every hour: 'remember!''...

Horloge ! dieu sinistre, effrayant , impassible,
Dont le doigt nous menace et nous dit : "Souviens-toi!
Les vibrantes Douleurs dans ton cour plein d'effroi
Se planteront bientôt comme dans une cible ;

Le Plaisir vaporeux fuira vers l'horizon
Ainsi qu'une sylphide au fond de la coulisse ;
Chaque instant te dévore un morceau du délice
A chaque homme accordé pour toute sa saison

Trois mille six cents fois par heure, la Seconde
Chuchote : Souviens-toi ! - Rapide, avec sa voix
D'insecte , Maintenant dit : je suis Autrefois,
Et j'ai pompé ta vie avec ma trompe immonde !

Remember ! Souviens-toi ! prodigue ! Esto memor !
(Mon gosier de métal parle toute les langues.)
Les minutes, mortel folatre, sont des gangues
Qu'il ne faut pas lâcher sans en extraire l'or !

Souviens toi que le temps est un joueur avide
Qui gagne sans tricher, à tout coup ! c'est la loi,
Le jour décroît ; la nuit augmente ; souviens-toi !
Le gouffre a toujours soif ; la clepsydre se vide.

Tantôt sonnera l'heure où le divin Hasard,
Où l'auguste Vertu, ton épouse encor vierge,
Où le Repentir même (oh ! la dernière auberge !) ,
Où tout dira : Meurs, vieux lâche ! il est trop tard !"

(click here for an English translation)

And each morning and night we look at ourselves in the bathroom mirror.

I'm reminded now, only somewhat morbidly, although not sadly, of Jean Cocteau, the French filmmaker and poet, who wrote this:

", look at your life in a mirror and you see Death at work.”

What a soundtrack to brush your teeth by, eh?

Echoes of Ecclesiastes: "Better is it to go to the house of mourning than to the banquet house, because that is the end of all mankind; and the one alive should take it to his heart..." And yet it is not a diatribe against life: "all is vanity" while at the same time "I have come to know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good during one's life; and also that every man should eat and indeed drink and see good for all his hard work. It is the gift of God."

It's been a good day, really: morning bike ride, a coyote crossing my path; getting to know new friends; live music in a sycamore-shaded courtyard; dinner around a firepit in the desert night; and looking forward to driving up to Phoenix tomorrow to see old friends...

A good autumn night from Tucson.
Happy trails.
Enjoy the changes.

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