Monday, March 10, 2008

That Extra Hour

Man, that extra hour is something special.

I mean, the extra hour that comes with daylight savings time, which took effect last weekend. What a host of possibilities comes with just 60 extra minutes of daylight. There is light when I get up and walk Hviezda, the Irish setter who understands only Slovak. There is light when I catch the bus to work. There is light when I leave work in the evening.

I don't like walking the dog, going to work or returning from work in the dark. It makes me sleepy. I want to hibernate. Seven o'clock feels like 10. Nine like midnight.

Here in Rhode Island, daylight shrinks to a shade more than nine hours in December – the shortest time (for daylight) in the calendar year. The sun begins slipping to the horizon around 3:30 p.m. and is gone by about 4:20 p.m. It doesn't rise until well after 7 in the morning.

I find it greatly crimps my activity level. It's just too darn hard to run in the dark, and I've never felt terrifically safe in the day-glo running clothes. Headlights from oncoming cars are blinding, and there's no guarantee whatsoever that the driver will see you plodding along, neon clothes or no. Uh uh.

I never knew how much I valued sunlight until I realized one day while I was walking around in Bratislava that I was crossing the street to walk on the side bathed by the sun's rays. We were in the midst of a 47-day stretch when the sun appeared only once – for a half-hour. I became miserable. Not exactly depressed, but clearly unhappy. Maybe even moody. So, when the sun finally returned to the Slovak capital, I rejoiced in ways I never had contemplated – such as deliberately walking on the sunny side of the street. I still do it today. I did it especially during my year of studies in New York City, where canyons carved by buildings could produce an especially pronounced sunny-dark dichotomy.

So, I value that extra hour of sunlight. I feel invigorated by it, more alive. I want to get up and run, walk the dog, even go to work a little earlier. I feel more alert, more apt to look around, take stock of my surroundings and soak in the scenery.

And the best thing, those minutes of sunlight will only grow longer. We're just at the beginning.

The sun is here to stay.

1 comment:

Leeann said...

I love the extra hour of sunlight too, Richard. It is the beginning of that time of year when we eat dinner and then the kids can go out to play. It brings back the time of year when the kids get out of the pool, eat dinner on the deck, and then get back in the pool until nine pm while Rob and I sit outside and just laze around... pure pleasure.
Not to mention, zoos and petting farms and the smell of sunblock and kids with hair turning blonde..LOVE IT!

Leeann---> I'm effing matt damon..