It’s over for another year – daylight savings time, that is – and suddenly the sun is going down at 5 p.m. instead of 6. Well bah! I guess it’s nice that the sun is arriving in Rapallo an hour earlier, but to tell you the truth, I miss it at the other end of the day much more.
New Zealander George Vernon Hudson first came up with the idea of our modern DST, back in 1895. He collected bugs and thought it would be useful to have more hours of light for his hobby after his work day ended. William Willet, a Brit, came up with the same idea independently in 1905. He was a golfer… need I say more? DST has been touted as an energy-saver, a boost to the economy, and a public safety boon; you can read a great deal about it here if you are interested.
The problem of the seasonal Incredible Shrinking Day has vexed people since the concept of ‘time’ became important. Day – too long in the summer, too short in the winter. The Romans had a great solution – ‘hours’ were of varying lengths during different times of the year. The Water Clock, seen at the left, was a complex device that had a different scale for each month of the year… not very practical for modern life – and imagine what a wrist watch would look like.
Not everyone has bought into the idea of Daylight Savings Time. Arizona, for instance, doesn’t observe it – but it is the only United State that doesn’t. How confusing is that?! Most of Africa has no use for it, and neither does most of the former Soviet Union and part of Australia. It seems strange in these days of greater and greater uniformity that there would be such a discrepancy in something as important as time. Must be fun for the airlines.
Here in Italy we go off DST a week or two before the US, which makes it confusing for phone calls. Just what time is it over there anyway??
I e-mailed a friend the other day, and in a nyah-nyah-nyah kind of way exclaimed that we had gone off DST and I was an hour richer. She wrote back gloomily, ‘another hour of darkness.’ And it does rather feel that way with the afternoon becoming evening so early. No matter how you divide it up, the fact is that in the northern and southern parts of the world there is always a part of the year when the days are just plain too short. Maybe we should all move to the equator.
By the way, for any who have trouble remembering when the clocks go forward and when back, just think about a kitten attacking a string: Spring forward, fall back.