Spending Time

On the timeless prairie

Amid a flurry of autumn traditions old and new — carved jack-o-lanterns, homecomings, pumpkin spice latte —  discussions of a less happy tradition arise, inevitable as falling leaves. As the clock adjustments required by the end of daylight saving time grow nearer,  a little inconsequential and mostly congenial grumping about the practice can be heard across the land.

Some don’t care which official time prevails; they only wish for an end to switching back and forth. Others, in favor of keeping the practice, argue the case for a national policy. Most seem to consider the fuss over “falling back” or “springing forward” nothing more than a relic of the past, like barn-raisings and butter churns.

Repetitive and predictable as the seasons, the same questions arise year after year. Does clock manipulation save energy? Does it help or hurt school children? Will it lead to an end of a nation-wide vitamin D deficiency?

Clearly, definitive answers aren’t possible, but I work by the sun and not by the clock, so the lack of answers doesn’t bother me.

Like anyone who works from “kin to cain’t” — from the moment the first bird takes flight into the dawn until the last light fades against the hills — I gauge the time of day by the slant of the sun and pace myself accordingly. Still, living in the midst of a clock and calendar world, it’s important to take that world’s realities into account, including the transition back to “standard” time.

One friend takes the mandate to set clocks back one hour at 2 a.m. so literally she sets an alarm. She doesn’t want to be late in meeting her civic obligation, but she doesn’t want to be early, either. She’s done it that way for years, and for years I’ve given her a hard time about it. She won’t be swayed since, as she says, that’s the way it’s “supposed” to be done. Clearly, she believes that if only everyone would set their clocks in the middle of the night as we’re told, the world would be a better place.

I’ve never dared tell her about my approach to the end of daylight saving time. She’d be scandalized to know that I not only avoid changing clocks in the middle of the night, I don’t bother to reset them before I go to bed, and I don’t adjust them first thing in the morning.

Instead, I’ve chosen to consider that hour we “gain” as we “fall back” to be a gift from a minor god.  It’s a little chunk of time left lying at the edge of my life, waiting to be done with as I please.

Every year, I save my hour of reclaimed time until I need it, or find a frivolous use for it. While others busy themselves resetting clocks, I watch from the sidelines with a smile on my face, secure in the knowledge of the secret time tucked into my pocket. Eventually I dispose of that extra hour, but only then do I reset my clocks, putting myself more or less back in synch with everyone else.

Years ago, with different work and different expectations, it wasn’t so easy;  I had to make an effort to be on the same schedule as my co-workers. Even now, there are practical limits to how long I can hold on to my extra hour. It really isn’t feasible to keep it for Christmas shopping in December, or an especially pleasant February afternoon when time on the prairie becomes a nearly irresistible temptation.

Still, the ability to choose a use for that extra hour can become a delightful exercise.

Imagine, for example, that you’ve spent an afternoon after the end of daylight saving time doing paperwork, or laundry.  At five o’clock, you decide you’ve had enough. You pull out your extra hour, declare it four o’clock, and sit back to relax with a book.

If you’d prefer a leisurely, late-afternoon walk, it’s just as simple. Tuck your extra hour into your bag and set off at a brisk clip until you feel yourself tiring. Then, take out your hour and slow down, secure in the knowlege that you’ll arrive home in time for supper.

Over the years, I’ve used my extra hour to repot African violets, read The New Yorker, watch the sunset, and brush the cat. I’ve spent it talking with a friend on the phone, and browsing a bookstore. Once, I took a nap. I’ve used the time early, and I’ve used the time late. What never varies is using it with full awareness that it is my hour to do with as I please. If I choose to save it until Monday morning and dedicate it to an extra cup of coffee or sweeping the patio, so be it.

It’s a game, of course: this pretending that I have a time-treasure hidden away in my pocket like a shiny new dime. But it’s a game that provides multiple pleasures, and having the time tucked away is only the first. Equal joy lies in deciding how it will be spent.

Each year, in the deciding and in the spending, I re-learn a lesson each of us too easily forgets: that what is true for an hour also is true for a day, and that, as the days add up, they become the sum and substance of our lives.

As I rise on any given morning, the time spread before me looms larger than my play-hour, but it’s still my time, and my responsibility to determine how it will be spent. Certain decisions already made — to be employed, to seek education, to raise children, to work within the community — necessarily predetermine much of our day’s normal course, but bits and pieces of time still remain ours alone: hours waiting to be used for creation, renewal, reflection, and relationship. Despite our plaintive cry — “I wish I had more time!” — the truth of the matter is that we have all the time there is. Wisely used, that is time and gift enough.

“There is no shortage of good days,” writes Annie Dillard. “It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample, and its passage sweet.”

As we move from equinox to solstice, leaving the summer’s light and moving again into the darkness of the year’s bleak end, it can be easy to believe that the days themselves are shrinking: that our hours have shriveled, our minutes crumbled.  But time is ample, enduring in daylight or dark; pouring  into our lives from eternity’s store; waiting to be disposed of as we will.

Of course, time’s flow can be neither stopped nor reversed. In the words of Tennessee Williams, “It is slipping away while I write this and while you read it, and the monosyllable of the clock is Loss, Loss, Loss, unless you devote your heart to its opposition.”

Whatever the time, the clocks are ticking.

Comments always are welcome.

 

 

120 thoughts on “Spending Time

  1. Thank you for this joyful meditation on time! I loved every word. Like you, I now gleefully live with the sun but it wasn’t always this way. How thankful I was when my kids graduated from school and I quit my job to become a full-time artist. Free from the shackles of the clock! I was delighted by your subversive approach to the changing of the clock. I have taken a similar approach which scandalizes the accountants in my life. I don’t change my clocks until the batteries die, and I greatly enjoy waiting, knowing that I’m coloring outside the lines.

    1. I laughed at your practice of not changing clocks until the batteries die. I’ve not done that, but I have lived with an automobile clock that was correct only a few months out of the year. I never could figure out how to change it, and it seemed more trouble than it was worth to stop by the dealership and inquire, so I just made the mental adjustment.

      I do have one clock that needs special attention, and that’s my grandmother clock. It can’t simply have its hands moved backward, as the chimes still would be off. So, I stopped its pendulum today, and in the next day or so, when the time on its face matches the actual time, I’ll start the pendulum swinging again. It’s much more fun than resetting a digital clock.

      1. Oh it is! I love the grandfather clock my dad made from a kit. He invested months to it~sanding, staining, sanding again… when he passed on we decided it should go to my son so for the time being it stands proudly in my living room.

    1. The phrase “joyous lines radiating outward in time” somehow reminded me of a song that’s brought inexplicable joy — and not a little healing — over the course of fifty years. Oddly enough, it has to do with time, too.

  2. I have really enjoyed your blog on time, Linda. As I have got older I have become to believe that time is the most valuable thing we have, and that we should use it wisely. Beautiful image, too! :)

    1. My friends and I talk about that from time to time, Pete: how increasing age continually sharpens the urge to make better use of time. More often than not, wise use isn’t a matter of doing more, but of doing differently: taking time for commitments and activities that please us, regardless of the judgment of others.

      I’m glad you like the photo. It’s from my time in Kansas last fall, when I was out on the prairie at sunset.

      1. I’m using my extra hour to get caught up on blogs! I’ll stop by soon. I’m eager to see how you approached our new “time.” As for my friend, she’s really quite delightful. We put up with each other’s quirks.

  3. I laughed out loud about the woman who sets her alarm at 2:00 AM to change her clocks. My husband used to collect watches and insisted they all be the correct time. Try doing a hundred plus sets of hands to change. You’ll never complain about setting a few around a house again. I just put a large note on my kitchen table that I’ll find in the morning on Sunday. Most of my clocks do it themselves now days.

    1. There’s usually a brief feature on tv at the spring or fall time change showing a clock shop owner going through the process of changing a few hundred clocks. I’ve never known someone who’s actually done it. I suppose it didn’t take you husband that long to reset them all, but it still would be quite an experience. Once he reset them, did he have to make the rounds every now and then to wind them? I presume some were old, and would have to be wound to keep running.

      The house clock I depend on is the one in the corner of the computer. Otherwise, the only one I pay attention to is the grandmother clock, because I have to pull the weights every week or it stops keeping time and chiming. I’ve never set the ones on the microwave or coffee pot, so that’s it, except for the car.

      On the other hand, you reminded me that I have one more gizmo that needs its time reset: the camera. I’ll have to dig out the manual and figure out whether it’s on daylight saving time, and how to change it.

  4. Years ago I stopped wearing a watch…that should tell you all you need to know about how I feel about DST. It’s a non-issue with me (except for those late-night-ending sports games that keep me up until midnight).
    The worst waste of time is in anger. It saps your energy and shortens your life. It’s an emotion of the human condition, but it can be reduced and eliminated with the right attitude. It is life’s “time-killer.”
    Thanks for your thoughts on time. Thinking about it as I get ready to go set my clocks back (I think).

    1. I stopped wearing a watch when I started varnishing. At first, it was a purely practical matter. I didn’t want to hook it on something, or have to keep cleaning sanding dust out of the face and band. After a while, I stopped putting it on after the work day was over, and that was it. I haven’t worn one for more than a quarter-century now.

      I grinned at your reference to those late-night games. There were a few hundred thousand people roaming around well past their bedtimes last week, but it surely was fun.

      I do agree about anger. There’s not a thing wrong with experiencing anger. There are times when it’s completely appropriate. But nurturing it, coddling it, and being consumed by it? Life-destroying, indeed. It’s one reason I stay off social media. There are a lot of angry people out there.

  5. oooooo, lovely, I am going to save my hour and try to treasure each hour. Maybe I will spend it frivolously and then change my mind and put it back in my pocket! To spend again!!!

    1. Maybe instead of spending those hours, we should invest them — and then get them back with interest. If we invested them in something that interests us, we’d get interest on interests!

  6. A lovely essay, Linda. I’m going to print it, and use some stolen moments to re-read it. Don’t worry about me stealing stuff, I swipe ten minutes here and there, by playing something ridiculous like Gogol Bordello, really loud, and get through my dishwashing or whatever, in 1/2 the time – – then I stick the saved time in the cookie jar, to do something fun. (I think of it as stealing from the Robotic Overlords of Tedious Chores, like matching up socks and cleaning out the lint trap on the dryer) Really loved this piece, see ya! RPT

    1. I laughed at your domestic ROTC, Rob. It may not be quite as demanding as the military version, but then again — matching socks presupposes that you can find the socks, and that’s a substantial challenge all on its own.

      Of course I’d never heard of Gogol Bordello, but I’m sort of caught up now. I love that they changed the band’s name because “no one in the United States has heard of Béla Bartók.” I’ve been a fan of Klezmer for years, so GB’s music feels familiar.

      As for getting through chores in half the time with something ridiculous playing in the background, I’ve got another for you. Have you met the Rev. Peyton, his washboard-playing wife Breezy, and their Big Damn Band? Well, here they are. I first ran into them at the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and my view of Indiana musicians hasn’t been the same since. I don’t think they’d be banned in Boston, but I’m not sure.

      Good to have you stop by!

  7. Your innovative way of dealing with the time changes is the best thing I’ve even seen about that policy. Kind of the way we look at winter here: when the weather is disagreeable, go out and play in it.

    I lived for many years in Arizona, where they don’t observe daylight saving time, and I found no ill effects, but it was much simpler. Personally, I consider the whole thing an illusion that serves mostly to confuse people. The best thing it does is cause many people, when they reset their clocks, to adjust them to the right time twice a year. (Minutes count.)

    1. From what I’ve read, it was well-intentioned in the beginning, and made enough sense to enough people that it was instituted. But like the three-month summer vacation from school that was rooted in a more agrarian society where kids had to help on the farms, it’s been disconnected from its original purpose.

      It seems that there’s a movement in some northeastern states now to ditch DST. Maine and Massachusetts are on board, and they’re trying to convince others to join them. For some reason I never quite understood, it would require moving to Atlantic Standard Time rather than Eastern Standard, but I’m sure there’s a good reason for that, too. If another block of states joins Hawaii and Arizona, we may be on the way to finally ending it.

      Minutes do count. If you want to be sure you’ve got it right, there’s always the Naval Observatory Master Clock. My computer’s clock is off by three seconds.

  8. This was a beautiful read. Any time I read your prose, it’s as if time stands still for me. The moments after I finish are for reflecting and considering my own thoughts on the subject. This morning I’m gazing out the window and watching the day begin… as it should… without this silly clock we humans count on.

    I would rather there was no Daylight Savings Time, but humans have these schedules and logical reasons for benefiting from the manipulation of time, so it will likely always be as it is. Like you, I work by the sun. I look forward to the time when Forrest is retired and we no longer have to adhere to this silly time schedule. And, his inner time is different than mine. I am a creature of daylight, and he is more nocturnal. It’s a beautiful thing to run with another who gives you the experience of something different. Just last night we walked to the river (a half mile from here) through woodlands, a soybean field, thick grasses and tall grasses, to listen to the water run down below where the river cuts deep in the sandrock. The moon lit our way – and a lone Barred owl called out in the silence. I loved being enveloped in the wild of night, with a more nocturnal companion. This is a hike I normally take as the sun comes up. When I’m out there, there is no clock. If only we could all run by our natural instinct.

    1. When Ecclesiastes said there is a time for everything, that might even apply to time itself. There’s a time for the leisurely, unscheduled walk in the midnight woods, and a time to heed the demands of the clock. Our error may simply have been to allow the clock to begin ruling every aspect of life.

      As for schedules: you and I have them, too. They’re just arranged differently than most people’s, and are far more dependent on factors beyond our control. Sometimes a customer will ask, “What’s the scheduled completion date for the project?” It’s an impossible question to answer. The best I can to is say, “If the weather allows, my hope is to be finished in three weeks.” But there aren’t any guarantees, just as there aren’t any nine-to-five days. Whether it’s a pecan orchard or a boat, we work when we can work, and when we can’t, we cope: more or less gracefully, depending on circumstances!

      I do understand your comment that when you’re “out there, there is no clock.” When I go out with the camera, I often imagine that I’ve been out for an hour or two, only to discover that it’s been three or four. It’s the same with writing, just as I’m sure it is for you with your work and explorations. The absorption is so complete that time ceases to exist. It’s a remarkable experience.

  9. I am so impressed with your beautiful essay on Time, your secret hidden treasure when the world says we have to change. I never thought of it in that way but I always feel more rested and at peace when the time “falls back”. Will have to investigate my pockets to see if I am holding fast to a secret hoard of moments to cherish in the natural order of things.

    1. Wouldn’t it be fine to discover a few extra hours tucked into your pockets? I imagine it would be much like finding a five dollar bill in the washer or dryer. When that happens, I have no idea where it came from, but I’m always glad to see it.

      The world tells us we “must” do a lot of things. When it comes to setting clocks, a little fanciful play necessarily gives way to practicality. But in other things? We often have more freedom than we realize to go our own way.

  10. What a fascinating way to look at the dilemma of springing forward and falling back, Linda! I love the idea of having a full hour to hold onto and use as you will. As one who’s constantly complaining that I don’t have time, I have to remind myself that I’ve got just as much time as the next person — 24 hours per day — and it’s imperative I get better control of the time I have … and the ways I use it. Maybe there’s no such thing as wasting time — it’s just that nobody can be productive ALL the time, right?!

    1. I’m fairly well convinced that wasted time is a reality. I can do time-wasting as well as the next person.

      But what’s productive and non-productive is open to interpretation. Is day-dreaming a waste of time? I always remember what Billy Collins has to say about that: “While the novelist is banging on his typewriter, the poet is watching a fly in the windowpane.” That makes me laugh, every time, and there’s no question that it could have a corollary, like this: “While the bureaucrat is churning out reports, the novelist is banging on her typewriter.”

      My mother always claimed that the computer was a toy, and that the time I sent at it was playing. Maybe so. But is play productive? More and more, experts are saying that we’re damaging our children by refusing them free play. Perhaps we damage ourselves when we deny ourselves free play, too.

  11. My best time to have fun is when I don’t have to see the clock or think about “What time is it?” I opted for having the clock that changes the daylight saving time, automatically! …by the way what time is it? :)

    1. What time is it? It’s almost time for the birds to begin chirping and singing. Yesterday, they would have had another hour or longer to wait, by human standards. Today? Nothing’s changed for them — no need to reset the sun!

      Like you, I enjoy those times when time isn’t an issue. There’s a world of difference between setting out with my camera for a day — or even an afternoon — and setting out for an hour, knowing I have to be back to meet an obligation. An hour’s better than no time at all, but it’s still my experience that I have to work harder to focus my own eye in that shorter, constrained time.

  12. Very lovely Williams quote.

    Don’t we have Caesar to thank for a lot of this arbitrary time stuff? Who can we point the finger at for the 30 day months? If allowed, I prefer to live according to the 4 seasons and not this corruption of the countdown every month to flip on to the next 30 days and the next and the next. Countdowns! Oh! It’s the 18th of July! It’s almost August! How the months fly by! Oh! Do you believe it’s almost Christmas? Only x amount of days left..Life lived in 30 day blocks. Numbers are meaningless.

    Life should be lived by the seasons. Anything else is soul crushing. Which, the majority of life lived now is exactly that. You have to be almost a hermit to live otherwise.

    1. The history of calendars is interesting. Caesar played his role, but there were others who shaped and reshaped the months to suit a variety of purposes. Of course, calendars predate the Romans by centuries: perhaps even millenia. The various solar and lunar calendars that came first still are in use in some societies, and still set the dates for various religious observances.

      I love the seasons, but I’m tied in my own ways to clocks and calendars, and can’t say that I find it soul-crushing. I’m little Miss Both/And, after all, and since coming to appreciate the Greeks’ distinction between kairos and chronos, I’ve lived comfortably with a foot in both worlds. In fact, the final sentence of my post makes the distinction, at least implicitly: “Whatever the time [kairos], the clocks [chronos] are ticking.”

      1. Well, being an agricultural sort, and teetering on the edge of losing that identity, it’s soul crushing to me to think I could go back to living with no sense of seasons, no urgency or care other than deciding what jacket I need to wear, if at all.

        I think you proved my point with your “time is ticking” comment. When a winter storm cloud is born I don’t think it worries about when it will be springtime.

  13. I have recently picked up a side job, a few hours a week to assist a woman at her home. Her yard is large and her plants need to be cut back. I enjoy my Time outside. Right now the weather is unpredictable. So I am trying to determine whether I should go or not. But I don’t mind getting wet. I think I will play your game. 😅

    1. I wonder how much time I’ve spent over the years trying to decide whether the weather will allow me to work? Sometimes dampness or fog doesn’t make a difference; sometimes it does. But the uncertainty’s a small price to pay for the pleasure of working outdoors. I suspect you’ll enjoy your time helping the woman, and I know she’ll appreciate having someone who can keep her yard and plants in order. From my perspective, that would be time very well spent, indeed.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Elizabeth. For the time being, there’s little doubt I’ll keep writing. I’ve been at it for nearly ten years, and have a pile of drafts still waiting, so the only issue is — finding the time!

  14. I’ve ranged from anal to lackadaisical when it comes to time, Linda, from planning out each hour to allowing the sun to rule, as you apparently do. Hours turn into days, seasons come and go, years pass. And everyone, so it seems, has an opinion about daylight saving time. I have a friend who has been grumping about it for as long as I have known him, going on 50 years. It doesn’t bother me, one way or the other. But I like your attitude… stolen moments not to be squandered, but to be cherished. –Curt

    1. The Greeks were smart enough to acknowledge at least two kinds of time, and reflect that in their language. Chronos is measured, controllable time: our chronologies, chronometers, and so on. Kairos is event-filled time: babies are born and flowers bloom when the time is right. When we have the time of our lives, it’s kairos, not chronos that best coveys that kind of time.

      So, we live in both worlds, if we’re lucky. On the one hand, there are the hours; on the other lie the seasons. And in both, there are those times when any sense of time falls away, and we simply are.
      Calendars and clocks are useful tools, and anyone who wants to live in the world will use both. But allowing them to be the final word on how we dispose of our time? I’ve known people who do, and their anxiety level can be pretty high — like this fellow’s.

      1. Anxiety is almost guaranteed, Linda. Been there/done that. Backpacking is Kairos, running a political campaign is Kronos. When up to my nose in work, I never could hang loose. And it was definitely not good for my health… or probably those around me. But, I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date! :) –Curt

    1. I’d never read that, and enjoyed it tremendously. I kept coming across lines that seemed especially quotable, but finally gave up highlighting them, since the entire letter is a gem. Thanks for passing it on; Franklin’s always a fun read.

      Sunrise is due here in two minutes. I’d run out and check his hypothesis, but it’s cloudy. Nature has her shutters in place.

        1. The time of sunrise? Yep, although I might have been a little late. Official sunrise today was 6:37:33 a.m., and sunset’s at 5:30:29 p.m. CST. I looked up Iowa City, and found 6:44 a.m. and 4:55 p.m., give or take a few seconds, which surprised me. I knew the days were shorter up there, but I didn’t realize there was more of a difference in the evening than in the morning.

          1. As we look forward to Dec 4, that’s the date of the earliest sunset. Latest sunrise is on Jan 4. Their offset combines to make the winter solstice around Dec 21.

  15. I have squandered my hours. I’m 83! If I had saved them, I could use them for a three day vacation and have time left over for packing and putting away. There does exist the problem of losing 83 hours, but I will charge those to be paid while the death angel awaits. Who cares if he didn’t know he was supposed to have come three days earlier! Such a fun slant on using that extra hour.

    1. Oneta, that’s an especially creative way to look at it. And smart you, to include the time for packing and putting away.

      I had wondered if anyone would ponder the other side of this little time-coin — the loss of an hour down the road. Perhaps we could tuck all those unpleasant things we resolve to “deal with later” into that hour, and then, when the time to lose an hour comes — they’ll just be gone!

    1. Thanks, Biff. Provoking thought isn’t the worst thing in the world. When I think back to my childhood, it seems as though I was admonished “Think before you speak” at least a dozen times a day. It couldn’t have been that frequent, of course, but we could do with a little more of that wisdom today.

      1. Yes, I heard that a lot, too. It was part of the whole, “Children should be seen and not heard” school of thought. Also, I spent a lot of time by myself due to various reasons and circumstances, so I had a lot more opportunities to think than I did to talk. I’m not sure if that was a good thing or not, but I like to think it was a net positive.

        1. That’s interesting. I never heard “go out and play” as anything more than a word of permission. The irony is that as an only child with no nearby kid neighbors, I learned pretty early to (1) amuse myself, and (2) ride a bicycle. Once I had wheels, it was a whole new world!

  16. You remind me by this of a vacation in a tiny village in Crete. We had no idea, the entire time we were there, that daylight savings time had started. We were always late to meals, and no one said anything. The last day, we somehow found out just in time to race to our plane.

    1. That’s a wonderful tale, Susan, and yet another tiny argument for an end to this all.

      Honestly, the worst part of ending daylight saving time for me is that there’s no quick way to reprogram the cat. She’s accustomed to waking me when (in her opinion) it’s time for me to wake, and the fact that her five a.m. wakeup call is going to take place at 4 a.m. for a while isn’t something I’m looking forward to. There’s no way to sleep through her yowling, and since she wants company rather than food, even some treats in her bowl won’t put an end to it.

    1. And all across the land today, there are people sharing in that experience. In at least one congregation I know, there are volunteers who come in to make coffee and set out pastries for the very early arrivers: a practical expression of compassion if I’ve ever seen one.

  17. This is quite a wonderful piece of writing, Linda…first, I love the “game” of using that extra hour at your discretion. Second, I appreciate how that decision spills over into being more thoughtful about life itself. And finally, I always appreciate busting out of boxes, especially conceptual ones! Have an interesting weekend….

    1. What would life be without a bit of play thrown in? Just “playing around” with anything — words, cameras, concepts — can lead to wonderful discoveries.

      I think it’s so interesting that our time has come up with the concept of “free play” for children. When I was growing up, play was free by definition. Of course we had games with rules and supervision, but when it was time for recess, or when our parents yelled, “Get out of her and go play!” it was wholly up to us to decide what we would do. I honestly believe today’s stare-at-the-screen syndrome is partly due to an inability of upcoming generations to amuse themselves: the screen as surrogate for overly protective and overly controlling adults.

      But that’s a different topic, for a different day. This is our extra-hour day, and I know you’ll put it to good use!

  18. In Australia the setting of the clock was first seen with great suspicion and alarm. The Premier’s wife fought back by claiming it would fade the curtains and interfere with her pumpkin cake’s risings.

    We have few time zones and it makes little difference. The birds go their way as do the possums or kangaroos.
    We all know it is only this moment that we have and not the next or the past, no matter what shows on time’s dial.
    It’s inconsequent if we live till one hundred or fifty. The time of the present is all we have to live well.

    During the many times we were in Bali, time of the day or days of the week were unimportant. For the Balinese time (jam) is an abstract notion and ‘efficiency’ of little value. A glorious celebration of ‘time.’ indeed.

    1. I can’t help it. Every time you and eremophila refer to kangaroos, I laugh. It seems so improbable that someone actually lives in a land where the creatures exist. I know they do, but there’s still part of me that thinks of them as mythical creatures.

      The Premier’s wife’s imaginings sound much like some of the more fanciful concerns that pop up here. My favorites always are the people who seem truly to believe they’ve been deprived of an hour of daylight. I’ve not yet seen any twenty-three hour clocks, so I’m not going to worry about that.

      As for our allotted span, I’ve always enjoyed this: “The question is not is there life after death, but whether there is life before death.” Everyone knows the younger-than-springtime ninety year old, and the thirty year old who seems no more alive than my desk. I know which one I’ll take as my role model.

      Your comments about Bali reminded me of the times my Liberian houseboy and I would go round and round over kitchen organizing. I wanted things sorted by abstract categories: cooking pots here, silverware there, food staples over there. Not Phillip! Once I had things sorted, they’d inexorably move back into his functional way of putting things together: the rice, the cooking pot, and the cooking utensils here, the tableware stowed by individual place settings, and so on. Neither of us ever fussed at the other, except in fun, but it certainly was a case of irresistible force meeting immovable object.

    1. It’s a good approach, and provides some pure fun — although a little more attention to calendar and clock wouldn’t particularly hurt me.

      It’s been interesting to witness the “time warping” that’s taken place since Hurricane Harvey. I’ve heard people say that time stopped for them. It feels as though the event was only yesterday, even though it’s been over two months since it happened. I heard someone say yesterday, “I feel like I need to reset my calendar.”

  19. Your time perspective is golden and I too would prefer to not need to watch the clock but I have appointments to keep. MD appointments and meds to take and meds to give to my pets and a host of other things that run on current time. I have a grandmother clock as well but I have had it in a storage closet for about 18 years ( it worked and I had to take it down when the den ceiling fell in) and I now will need to find an antique clock repairman and that will be hard to do. I do want to enjoy this lovely old clock again while I am still able to hear and appreciate the beauty of the chimes.

    I really pulled a good one today on adjusting the clock. I, for some reason had Saturday mixed up with Sunday and set my clock back an hour. I arrived at the vet’s clinic an hour late but they saw me anyway since it didn’t take more that 10 minutes. I looked at the vet’s clock on the wall and wondered why they had not set the time back. Well the joke was on me and I was really embarrassed.

    1. Of course, all of us live in both worlds. I have meetings and appointments and deadlines, too, and those require tending.

      Still, there’s value in not becoming a slave to calendar and clock. I’ve known people to say, for example, “Oh, it’s a beautiful day, and I’d love to go over to the refuge with you, but I’ve had window-washing on the schedule for today since last month. Sorry.” It’s just a reminder that we all make choices, including choices about our use of time.

      You might be surprised by how close a clock repairman is to you. There’s one here who’s a hobbyist whose name started getting passed around. He works out of his home, and when I found him he wasn’t even on the internet. I got his name from a jeweler in town, who knew him because of their watch repair business.

      There are plenty of confusions that take place this time of year. Keeping track of which day it is can be an issue for me, especially when erratic weather means I work a really odd schedule. If rain during the week leads to working on the weekend, it takes some attention to keep things sorted out.

      1. Linda, I was not implying that I am a slave to time and clearly if you could see what my day looks like you would view my laid back life as lazy with no construction. But as I wrote, I must be aware of time because I have various appointments that I must keep or my health and my pets will suffer as well as trying to maintain my home as I must depend on repairman and carpenters. But as you mentioned as a great resource, it was my intent to ask an older man who is the long time owner of jewelry shop if he can direct me to a clock person. I know that all of them are hobbists, that work out of their home. I bought all my clocks years ago from an elderly man but he long ago departed this earth. I can still visualize his home where he had so many clocks on display. I bought three from him in the 1970’s. My grandfather clock does not run either because my husband hated its chimes and claimed the noise kept him awake. So after being idle for so many years it too does not run anymore.

        1. Oh, I didn’t mean you were a slave to time. That was in reference to my friend who keeps a notebook with her day scheduled down to fifteen minute blocks. That’s necessary sometimes, but she does it by choice, even without family or work to deal with. But, it’s her choice, so there we are.

          The nice thing about mechanical clocks is that they almost always can be made to run again. Sometimes, it only takes a good cleaning. I hope you have good luck with yours!

          1. You friend must have OCD. That does not mean much to me. Lots of people do and they can’t help themselves. My son has it to some extent but it does not involve time. I wish that I did.

            Yes, I hope that I can get those clocks running again. I would love to hear the chimes. I think the sounds are lovely.

  20. What a beautifully written post! Very poetic and makes for a good and interesting read. Wondering if you used your precious hour gained to write this post, or if this writing effort falls into the more mundane hours in between….? :)

    And time if I may add, since you are saving it as a currency, is one of those currencies that has different value in different cultures. For example, compare a German persons view of time with that of a Frenchman…. And then there are cultures where time does not really matter, those that like you, measure the start of the day with the sun rising and the end of the day with the sun going down.

    Ben

    1. I’m not sure I’ve ever written a post in an hour in my life! With this one, I think it took about a quarter-century of living to get smart enough to put it all together.

      It is true that different cultures understand and arrange things differently. When I moved to Liberia, one of the most interesting customs was called “spending time.” For example, a group of women might show up at my door and say, “We have come to spend time.” The expectation was that you would invite them in, offer water, and then sit with them. Sometimes, there wasn’t even any conversation. Everyone just sat around and smiled at each other. Then, someone would say, “Now we have spent time” — and off they’d go. I came to enjoy it, but it certainly was a puzzlement to my western mind when I first experienced it.

      Thanks for stopping by, and thanks especially for your complimentary words. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  21. What a wonderful post on Time. It was a great read and I realise that my time is my own whatever the day as I live such a solitary life (in early retirement).

    1. Thanks, Vicki. Even though I sometimes envy those who are retired, I also have an advantage that many who work for corporations and more typical businesses don’t: flexibility. Sometimes a change in plans is dictated by the weather, and that can be frustrating. But I also can arrange things to make room for things like eye doctor appointments. If I need to take a morning off, I simply add more hours elsewhere, and it works out fine.

      It also means that if something special comes along, like an eclipse, I can take the time to enjoy it. And if the weekend is so terribly windy that going out with my camera would be more frustrating than enjoyable, I can work the weekend, and take a day off in the middle of the week. It’s not as much fun as being retired would be, but it works.

      1. Sounds like you have the perfect work/life balance then, Linda. Unfortunately being forced to take early retirement due to chronic health means I have 24/7 free, but am often restricted due to back pain. On the other hand, I’m in the perfect area to still take short walks on ‘bad’ days if the weather is compliant. You must love having the fresh sea air around you every day.

        1. I wish it was fresh sea air. Galveston Bay and Clear Lake are about 23 miles inland, so we don’t usually get that salt tang unless there’s a really strong south wind. Even then, it can be iffy. But there are times when it’s very pleasant, especially if the humidity is down. That’s why everyone here loves October and November. It’s our best season–at least, in my opinion. Well, April and May are pretty good, too.

  22. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. As I sit with my extra hour I am writing this. My car clock may march to its own tune. I wouldn’t dream of staying up to reset the clocks. I cherish sleep too much. I have a favor. When you read my stuff at andstilliwonder.net would you do a quick critique as time allows? I’m really trying to grow as a writer and that would help. I trust your vision of how words should flow. Only if you want to. Thanks Debbie

    1. I laughed at your car clock marching to its own tune. I know how to reset the one I have now, so mental adjustments won’t be necessary — once I remember to change it, of course.

      I’m honored that you’d seek a critique from me, Debbie, but honestly, I can offer you something much better. Even though it’s sub-titled “The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction,” William Zinsser’s book, On Writing Well is the best recommendation I can make. Since much of your writing has a personal aspect, his book Writing About Your Life would be equally good. Both can be found on his Amazon page.

      His tone is personal, his writing’s accessible, and his tips are both practical and immediately helpful. Over the years he’s done a good bit to shape my writing. I mostly don’t read how-to-write books, but his have been useful. I think you’d enjoy them, and find them helpful, too.

  23. I delighted in this thoughtful piece of philosophical whimsy on time.

    We are at my nephew’s in Southern California, having crossed a time zone once again in our travels. So a mere setting the clock back an hour is nothing. Besides the truck, (which is confused and rarely is correct anyway), our cell phones and computer keep perfect time, automatically knowing what to do across time zones and daylight savings. As a result I haven’t worn a watch since the advent of cell phones.

    I stole my hour last night—before it was official—and watched a show we have missed because we rarely have WiFi. It was 10 pm when we finished, but I knew it was really only 9 pm. How is that for blurring the lines. Your 2 am friend would be appalled.

    1. I suppose most people today don’t give automatic time changes on our computers and other devices even a single thought, but for someone who grew up with a telephone with no dial — one that required telephone operators, and that wonderful request, “Number, please?” — it’s nothing short of magical.

      As for darkness and light, I suspect you’ve found some parallels between your current land cruising and being at sea. There’s nothing more pleasant than days and nights dominated by those old time-tellers: the sun, moon, and stars.

      I’ve never thought of preemptive use of that extra hour. Aren’t you the clever one? You’ve suggested that it might be possible to faux-fall back, then spring forward, and then fall back again. I ned to think about this!

    1. For some reason I just remembered a quotation from Annie Dillard: “A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days.” I like that. It seems to contain calendar, clock, and the joyous unscheduled all in one pull. There’s a time for rod and reel, but there’s a time for a cast net, too. Pull it in, toss out the undesirable, and keep the rest.

      Maybe I’ll use my extra hour to go fishing — one way or another!

  24. All I can say about Daylight Saving Time is that when I prepped students for the SAT and SAT II Writing tests, I made sure they knew this light-stylish habit was called Daylight Saving Time, not Savings…

    As one of your other readers observed, Arizona stays put.

    Several years ago, we decided to drive to our house in AZ. The trip down Highway 5 in California is a tough one with only two lanes for each direction and hundreds of 10-wheelers. We crossed the Mohave Desert, hell bent on a nice dinner at the Wigwam. And some wine. And some comfort food.

    And then.

    We forgot about Daylight Saving Time. Arizona was now an hour ahead.

    The Wigwam Bar was closed.

    I read somewhere that as a country we are going to end Daylight Saving Time. Is that true?

    1. Do you know about the Arizona exception to DST? I didn’t, until very recently. The Navajo Nation in the northeast quarter of the state does observe daylight-saving time. On the other hand, the Hopi Nation, fully surrounded by the Navajo reservation, does not.

      There’s some restiveness out in the northeast. Massachusetts and Maine are trying to get other New England states to join with them, move into the Atlantic time zone, and ditch DST. It seems to be all talk at this point, but there is a lot of talk. If a chunk of states made the move, the rest might follow. Maybe.

  25. Such an enjoyable read to which I can totally relate. I can’t say I squirrel away my extra hour for very long, but I’d never, ever, use it up the night before or in the middle of the night when I’d be barely conscious of its gain. I’m too impatient to save it for long, though; I use it up early that next morning when I wake up at my usual slightly-too-late hour, and I gloat about the slow, slow morning I get to have with my coffee, the paper, and perhaps, like you, an appointment with my burgeoning New Yorker stack! It is a wonderful once-a-year luxury, and I use it with great intention.

    1. It’s the intentionality that makes that hour special, isn’t it? And there’s probably no better way to use it than by extending the morning — especially a Sunday morning, with music, coffee, and paper. On the other hand, I saved mine for the other end of the day this year, and went for a lovely walk-without-camera at a local spot.

      Once I get the cat’s internal clock reset, all will be well. For a while, she’ll beg for her 10 p.m. treat at nine, and wake me at 4 a.m. rather than 5 a.m. Maybe if I gave her a New Yorker to read, things would be better.

  26. not being an early riser, I prefer that extra hour of light at the end of the day. and I’d just as soon they stop switching it back and forth. I fail to see the purpose. regardless, my ordinary day is about 2 hours past the busy world. breakfast 10ish, lunch at 2 and dinner 8ish (or later).

    1. Like you, I just wish they would end the switching. Any given day is going to be as long as it is, and no human tinkering is going to change that. Like you, I enjoy the extra light at the end of the day, although it does mean working in the evenings at times during the heat of the summer. I suppose there are upsides and downsides to everything.

      I smiled at your meal schedule. My meal times “float,” although I’m consistent about coffee first, and breakfast later. During the heat of the summer, I often take breaks and have little meals rather than a lunch and dinner. It’s great to have the freedom to do that.

    1. When I was eleven years old, this song was released, and I listened to it over and over and over. Who knows? Maybe that’s what imprinted me with the importance of always having a little treasure — of one sort or another — in my pocket.

  27. ‘ I work by the sun and not by the clock, ‘
    That gave me a smile, and I understand totally! I also eat when I’m hungry and not because it’s 12 noon, etc!

    Your attitude is a good one, a healthy one, and one that gives you a ‘yappa’ when you need one!

    Still online very little but always glad to load your posts and read offline – at night when the house is ultra quiet, and your posts have my total attention!

    1. You’re the second person to mention those non-clock-dictated meals. Living outside the constraints of 9-5 work is one thing. Not having to put up with a half-hour lunch break at precisely this or that time is another. I’ve done both, and I don’t take lightly the freedoms of my current situation. The constraints also exist, but that’s just life: a combination of freedom and limits.

      Despite your emphasis on birds and other native creatures in your bloc, I imagine you these days rather like a satisified dog: turning round and round in your new environment, settling in a bit at a time into a comfortable spot. It’s always wonderful to see you — and I see you have a new post up, too, with more photos of your spot. I’m looking forward to it.

  28. I like the idea of saving the hour you gain at the end of DST for something special. Think I’ll just slip it into my pocket and wander off with it. . . . the idea, and the hour.

    1. Is it still tucked in your pocket? If it is, I hope you have it snugged up. The front’s through here, so I checked your temperatures, and saw there might be a little frost on your pumpkins this morning.

      I was listening to a local talk show yesterday when a discussion about growing up in small towns started, and they began playing songs about towns. Lo and behold, they played a song about Pearland. It basically boiled down to answering the question, “Why aren’t there any pears in Pearland?” I think I remember some actual history in the song, too. I’ll listen to the podcast when I get a chance, and find exactly where it comes in the show. If they didn’t play the whole thing, they came close.

  29. Great idea! I also add time… but I do it every day (or rather, night). I’m a night person and daytime just isn’t enough for me… (I did have a few months last year in which I adjusted my sleeping and waking times and that was more of a shock to my system than any artificial clock change).

    Talking of time adjustment… it has taken me simply HOURS to comment on this post, Linda, as I read it earlier on, left the tab open and since then have been all over the place following peoples comments and your replies, and various suggestions. Like your strange country blues guy on youtube.. and then off I went on something else and something else!

    1. I laughed at your comment that daytime just isn’t enough. I understand that so well. I do love the night, especially for reading and writing. And now that we’re come to a time when open windows are a possibility, listening to the night birds is an extra treat. I wish I could indulge more than I do, but the need to rise early limits those midnight hours.

      I’m so glad you found some other paths to wander in the comments, Val. I’m always interested in people’s replies, and learn so much from them. One of the best things about blogging is being able to connect with people from around the world who have such different experiences and different views. Believe me, I do my share of wandering around, too!

      1. We need talking birds. Then the owls could stay up a wee bit longer and tell us about their nights… though I expect we might become weary of the number of frogs told about…

        I tend to surf into a daydream when I’m online… it’s trying to get out of it that’s the problem!

  30. Time played an over important role in my childhood, and influenced my life throughout. But this business of summer time or daylight saving is something else completely; a reminder of conventions… as if human beings could have a hand in the movement of time. Perhaps Bob Dylan offered us the most biting retort when he sang, ‘if I can save you any time, give it to me and I’ll keep it with mine’. The illusion is pleasant when sitting in the garden on a summer afternoon… and the sun keeps going on and on… but it’s just an empty message… the monkey thinks he can move time forward and backward just by moving the hands of the clock…

    1. I’ve never thought that I could move time forward or back, but I do enjoy watching the movement of the hands of my mechanical clock. It provides a kind of satisfaction that digital gadgets don’t allow. The ticking is comforting and steady in the silence, and when it chimes or strikes the hour, the sound is lovely.

      It does require tending. If I don’t raise the weights each week, it stops. If the pendulum isn’t properly adjusted, it can gain or lose time. But it’s a link to an era I remember with great affection: one that required more than flipping a switch to have light in the evening, and effort to provide heat.

      Honestly, I don’t care a bit about whether we have daylight saving time or not. My own preference would be to end it all. But as long as it’s here, I’ll accept the convention, and play my own little games along the way — maybe even listen to a little Dylan while I do.

  31. I love how you use your hour. I never think of it as getting or losing an hour. I think of it as “it’s dark earlier” and I shut down in the dark. (And having that extra hour is a little less a novelty when you have all day to do your thing — even if you “schedule” your retirement!

    I never worry about changing the clock in the car. I know it’s off. I do change the others though I’ve never figured out how to change the thermostat, since I long ago lost the instructions. We cope. Meanwhile, Lizzie is still on the old clock and is now bugging me for dinner at 3:30 instead of 4:30 (and I don’t feed her till between five and six). Of course, she has her dry but now she’s on a food strike and won’t eat dry unless we make a big deal about it. Hurling the kernels across the room for her to jump on or getting them out of her bowl. I have more angst with the cat than the time change — but I sure hate the early dark!

    1. I laughed and laughed at your report of Lizzie’s (non) adjustment to the time change. It’s the same story around here. For months, our routine has been treats at 10 p.m., with the begging beginning about 9:30. Now, the begging starts at 8:30, and “insistent” hardly describes it. In the same way, her 5 a.m. wakeup call is taking place at 4 a.m., or even earlier. We’ve had a discussion or two, but she’s a determined creature. In time she’ll adjust, but as I recall it took a couple of weeks last year. I can’t tell you how happy I’ll be to have a good night’s sleep again.

      I do like the extra sunlight in the morning. I like to get up and about, and being able to get to work at a decent hour is nice.

      1. Somehow, I think the discussions tend to be more for us than them. At least we feel like we’re “doing” something — although I don’t think they’re quite getting the gist! At least Lizzie doesn’t!

  32. What a brilliant solution to the “problem” at hand (no pun intended). I have another that I have advanced for some years now, and that is to fall back in both the spring and fall. Just think, it would give you two hours a year. You could nap and read your New Yorker! Alas, nobody has taken me up on it….

    1. I rather like your idea, although after a few years Texas would become the land of the midnight sun and you folks — well, it would be interesting. What is being discussed among the northeastern states is banding together, dumping daylight saving time, and moving into the Atlantic time zone. Whether it will happen is anyone’s guess.

      Maybe we should just propose that everyone be issued a kairometer along with their chronometer, and let people choose which time they prefer!

  33. Your vivid descriptions of how you’ve saved that precious hour made me wish I could have that same flexibility. With computers and phones and atomic clocks setting themselves, I have few to change (my watch, the little clock in the bathroom, the one over the sink). And I like that phrase about time “pouring in from eternity’s store.”

    1. I do have flexibility, but believe me: being responsible for scheduling my days isn’t always the easiest thing in the world. Given the nature of my work and my work environment, there’s always the temptation to say, “Oh, I can just take an hour here or an hour there — or a whole afternoon.” Learning to varnish was easy. Learning self-discipline’s a different thing.

      I love metaphors for time. It’s such an elusive reality, and it’s fun to try and capture it in words. A curtain, a river, an arrow: all describe it, but only in part.

  34. I’m sorry I missed this post! Like you, I’m generally not in any hurry to change the clocks (some do that automatically), but I have to admit that as we approach the time to ‘fall back’, I have a hard time awakening during the work-week mornings, as the alarm signals the start of a new day, owing to the darkness still present and the quiet of the birds. Once time “changes”–all of that is back in sync. Was it ever out of sync?

    1. I’d say we were the ones out of synch. I was having the same problem as you, having grown accustomed over the summer of waking with the light. Now, with such short days coming, I have to retrain myself even further: to get up before the light, just to be able to get to work on time.

      An even bigger issue these days is the way the days themselves seem to be speeding by. Mid-November? Who would have thought it could come so soon? When I saw the Christmas displays in the grocery last week, I felt as though I’d stepped into an alternate universe.

  35. Oh what a delightful game — to save the hour to use at a future time of my choosing! Only yesterday did I change the clock in my car and the kitchen clock the day before that. All the others — though my bedside clock radio automatically adjusts itself — I had previously turned back before I went to bed the night daylight savings time ended.

    1. It is a game, and all the more fun for it. I can’t stop my computer and phone from changing themselves, of course, and it’s probably just as well. The computer clock sits at the corner of my vision as a reminder that more responsible people already have turned back and are moving forward. Still, nature dictates the course of my days more than the clock. On these sweet autumn mornings, both cool and humid, the first thing I do is check for dew. If the world’s soaking wet, it’s time for another cuppa and a load of laundry!

  36. This is great piece, I enjoyed so much. Time in every period of my life means different… but most of us like that. You did amazing post again. Blessing and Happiness, Thank you dear Linda, Love, nia

    1. You’re right that time changes for us over the years, Nia. I remember how long summer vacation seemed to me when I was in grade school — three months was forever! Now, time seems to speed by, faster and faster every year. It’s a reminder to make good use of it!

    1. Thank you, Maddy. It’s always fun to find a different slant on something that’s just part of life’s routines. I’m glad you enjoyed it — and thanks for saying so!

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