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Falling back into my ‘real time’

This week, the sun will rise around 7 a.m. instead of eight. Doesn’t that seem more natural for a November morning in Plumas County? For me it does. Changing the clocks sounds nice, but if one change is nice, is not the other nice as well? In my family it isn’t.

When Daylight Saving Time begins, people struggle to rise early enough, remember to change their clocks on time, and sometimes are late to appointments. Car accidents and heart attacks increase and we also tend to use more electricity.

This is why when March creeps around, my father doesn’t change our clocks.

Strange and rebellious as it may seem, it actually works well for us. And there have been bumps along the road, like the morning we realized my sister’s riding lesson was scheduled for eleven Daylight Saving Time, which meant ten for us, and we were late. As time went on, we realized it was a simple calculation like counting by tens and the benefit of feeling in tune with the passage of time surpassed any confusing moments.

When the rest of the world struggles to rise early and remember the time change, I do too, only I don’t pretend I’m not rising earlier. If I need to wake at 4 a.m. to save on daylight, I do so but I don’t call it five, because it isn’t and doesn’t feel like it is. However, I need to know which time is Standard and which is Day Light Saving. In fact, in my calendar I have to write D.S. (Daylight Saving) after every appointment because I know everybody starts an hour early in the summer. That way I remember to show up at the right time.

A funny thing I noticed when not changing my clocks is that many people are not sure how the time changes and whether it goes an hour ahead or behind, or even which one comes first, which you’d think they’d know by now, presumably having changed their clocks so many times. But I think it goes to show that not many people are aware of specific facts about Daylight Saving Time and view it as a simple fact of life. Like the sun rising in the east. Except that it isn’t. It’s manmade and maybe it’s good to know the difference.

One good thing about my father choosing not to change our clocks is that I’m aware of which way they change. (For those who are uncertain, they move an hour ahead for Daylight Saving Time in the spring and back again in the fall for Standard).

Not changing our clocks started about two years ago. Ironically this was when I started having more appointments and riding the early bus to college. I take the 6 a.m. bus and, amusingly, the bus that picks me up doesn’t change its clocks either. (Don’t tell, it’s my little secret. My bus is on my time!)

My little sisters and I call Standard Time “real time” because the sun is in the middle of the sky at midday as it has been for millennium and I assume it will continue to be so. ‘Real time’ is one of those phrases my family coined, one of our several quirks.

Like the people before the 1880s when the railroad standardized time, my noon has the sun at its highest arc. I am reminded of this difference every time a train rolls by my window and I hear its whistle blow.

Maybe the railroad standardized time because they thought they’d leave behind too many last-minute passengers. But back in the day, towns even only a few miles apart set their clocks differently based on the sun’s passage through the sky in their specific location and many were unhappy to lose their individual time.

Because of this history, sometimes I feel like I’m living some antique tradition by not changing my clocks. But on reflection, the whole circumstance and history makes me realize something: that time is just a way for us to measure the day and what’s really important is not how you measure that time but how you use it.

I learned in the third grade Ben Franklin’s words: “Do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”

Regardless of our changes to it, time is precious so spend it wisely and welcome back to ‘real time.’ I, for one, am glad we’re on the same page again!

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