It was back in the late 1960s, when I was growing up in Colorado, that I became aware of daylight saving time and how it works.
I rather liked the idea, especially the long summer evenings for playing Hide-n-Go-Seek and the summer mornings for sleeping in. Though, I am not sure I was ever allowed to take much advantage of the latter.
We have always had some controversy about the concept. The urban working classes love the long summer evenings to party and shop, while the rural food producers cannot convince their crops or animals to make the adjustment. And no one really likes having government mess with their getting-up and going-to-bed routines.
I remember watching the news back in the 1970s. A reporter was interviewing people about their thoughts on daylight saving time. The responses were varied. Some liked it, some didn’t.
But, there was one woman whose response I will never forget. When asked, she went into a tirade about how awful it was to change her clocks and then have to change them back, every year! She ended with a corker. She said it wasn’t really a savings because, “My water costs have gone way up. With the longer daylight, the ground dries out and I have more watering to do in my yard.”
My jaw fell and the interviewer was speechless. He just looked at the camera, not knowing what to say.
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The controversy has not abated; it is still with us. Citizen complaints are still out there on both sides of the divide. It is the transitions that cause the most complaints, particularly in the spring when we actually lose that hour of precious sleep. It took my first- and second-grade students a full week to adjust to the change. I just expected it and we survived.
This year, in Oregon, the issue has come to a head. The Legislature decided to make daylight saving time permanent year-round if, and when, all the states in our time zone approve.
It is true: the late summer evenings are some of my most favorite times. But, this has been tried before and the glorious summer evenings don’t come free.
Beginning around mid-October and lasting till mid-February, we will see a side effect of the year-round switch on our school children. In the pitch dark of winter they, high-schoolers down to first-graders, will be waiting for buses to take them to school in the pitch dark. Others will be walking and riding bikes on dark streets to get themselves to school.
As much as I love those long summer evenings, expecting our children to pay the price on those dark winter mornings does not feel right.