Daylight Savings. Ugh.

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I don’t really like to complain. It doesn’t help. It doesn’t make me feel better. It makes me feel worse, in fact. It is petty and a waste of time. Who doesn’t know this? But we all do it anyway. No matter how privileged or lucky we are, we all have something worthy of our complaining. My most recent beef is with daylight savings time.

Twice each year it makes me grumpy. Frankly, I don’t see the point. Over a decade ago the dates were pushed around, the idea being to save more energy by introducing more daylight into the workday. That didn’t work out so well. No one later demonstrated that any energy was really saved. I’ve heard the other reasons as well. Farmers benefit from more light early in the morning, or later in the morning. It isn’t as dark in the morning when children wait for the bus. But really?

Here is what happens for me in the spring. The days slowly get a little longer starting in December. I wait until March for the light to finally drop over the mountains at a reasonable hour. I can get up and go for a run at 6:00 a.m. and not need a headlamp or a reflector vest. I can rise before work and see the day. I go outside in the light before I get ready to head to work. It is a fine thing. And then daylight savings comes along and throws that all off. I hate that crap.

Now, I have to wait many days before the day is light enough at 6:00 am to go for a run. And for what? I just don’t get it. Why can’t we just pick one way for the clocks to be and stick to it? This is the 21st century. Artificial light has made daylight savings obsolete. It is bogus.

Here is something else, from today. I went in early to work with a group of high school students. At this particular school I don’t usually get there until 8:00 at the earliest. I am lucky to have that flexibility. But today I agreed to work with a first period class. So imagine working with a group of teenagers starting at 7:30 a.m. on a Monday. They are sleepy and not at their best. They are sluggish and mentally less sharp than later in the day or later in the week. And then imagine you are starting at 6:30 instead of 7:30. I tried to be lively, but the day was off to a slow start.

I will get used to it. Complaining does not help. I need to adjust. There are many things worse in the world right now (Um, “microwaves that turn into cameras?” Who knew?) I know all that crap. I still hate it. And I will get used to it. I will get used to it and then the clocks will need to be turned back again in the fall. And I will hate it all over again.

Dark Days

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Mornings are dark now. I wake and the sun has not risen. Soon the darkest days will be here. Should I rise and head out into the world when the light cannot be seen? When darkness tucks itself into shrubs and flows over the river and settles on the frosted meadow?  The coming solstice is a time to celebrate the return of light. These days, I am not so hopeful.

In the wee hours of November 9th I checked the news. Then I deleted a few news apps from my phone, the tool I have used to get most of my news. I needed a break from news. I have since then read little, listened little, watched little. I just couldn’t handle it. For my mental health I had to leave the broader world behind for a bit.

In the past I have been disappointed, even surprised, at election results. I have been on the losing side and figured things wouldn’t go the way I would like for a little while. A bummer, but that’s politics. Sometimes you just don’t win. But I always had faith in the process. I had faith in my country. I tend to believe people are good, whether at the voting booth or on the street. Sure, people make bad choices sometimes. We all do. But overall I have believed in the collective good. My faith has been shaken now. This election was not just about a “difference of opinion” but about deciding who we are as a nation. I am struck by what I see.

It is not easy to write when I do not know who will read what I write. I am tired of the demonizing of the “other” or those on the “other side” due to conflicting beliefs. I am happy to disagree with someone if we can try to understand each other. That makes for healthy communities. I don’t want everyone to think the same way. We need to pool all ideas to come up with a few good ones. But now I am not so sure it is even safe to say what I feel.

Our president-elect has done things that are blatantly immoral, unethical, even cruel, and he has accused others of those same trespasses. He has lied and lied and then called his opponents liars. He represents all that is mean and spiteful and selfish. I believe that kindness matters more than most things. Perhaps it is the most important thing. Yet I have seen no kindness from the man who will be our nation’s leader.

I understand why others sought someone who challenged the current order, why change seems necessary to so many, why the circumstances of so many people in the United States are not what they could be. I understand the appeal of someone who seems to speak frankly, who speaks differently, who says things so many people have wanted to say but felt they could not. I get it. But this is not the guy to bring that kind of change.

He will bring change, I have no doubt. But a man whose goal is his own glory will not bring the change we need to make this nation or the world or neighborhoods or communities better places to live. He will bring the kind of change that my children’s generation will have to spend decades trying to fix. We can disagree on how to make positive change. I welcome that. If we disagree on the solution it means we are asking the same question, that we are seeing the problem together. I have no faith that our president-elect has any idea what questions to ask. I have no faith that he believes in the value of asking questions at all.

I say all this taking the risk that you might read this, find yourself disagreeing, and toss slings and arrows my way. So be it. When the days get dark, we need to believe that light will return. This is my candle. Lighting a candle in the darkness can bring hope. It makes one visible, perhaps vulnerable, perhaps a target. But right now, I need hope. I want to believe there are others out there who are willing to light their own candles. I want my nation to be one that celebrates tolerance and kindness. A little light would help right now.

I have been unsure how to approach this space. I could not simply pretend that all is well, that I live in a place untouched by the rest of the nation or the world. I could not write simply about the beauty of falling snow or the glow of the frost in the morning or the smell of fresh bread. I will write about those things because we need them, because we need to see the wonder that surrounds us every day, because those kinds of things make life meaningful. I needed to acknowledge, however, that there is some darkness behind those things now. I can only trust that the days will get longer, that one day spring will arrive again.

Your Standard Fall Day Around Here

Geese are heading south. That’s what they do this time of year. We heard lots of them today. A flock honks its way overhead as I type this. We some a few large flocks of them as we did our things outdoors on this fine fall day.

Headed South, Passing Over Our House

Our neighbor came over this afternoon to mow the wet stretch of our field. We have had cattails galore, not to mention a crazy amount of purple loosestrife, plowing itself down the middle of the field since we moved in, and likely before that. We hired him to get a handle on it. The loosestrife will come back, but it we keep at it we might eventually keep it in check. Ideally the field dries out enough with the tall boys out of there that we can simply mow it and hay it.

Busting Out the Tracks for the Soggy Parts

After the Destruction

We took a walk out t see the effects of the crashing and slashing. We found a vole, hopping about, confused about what the heck just happened. Then we saw a mouse. We had a good look at both of these typically hiding critters as they tried to find a place to hide from the huge beasts on their turf. We also managed to see a small garter snake and a large frog. The latter was a bullfrog, and it was honkin’. Wildlife coming out of the woodwork, so to speak.

Um, Where Did my Habitat Go?

Yesterday we spent the afternoon at Shelburne Farms’s Harvest Festival. That always proves to be a fun event. We had corn on the cob–fire-roasted–and watched a play and took a hay ride and got some face painting and checked out the animals and ran into friends. We had a fine time and will go back again next year. On the way home we turned the corner to find the sun pouring down through a hole in the clouds.  It was, as you might imagine, stunning. So far, fall is off to an ideal start. No complaints here.

Busy at Shelburne Farms--Cars and Sheep and People

Bam! Fall Light in its Glory

Shortest Day

It was hard to get up again this morning. Of course, I had stayed up late to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, the annual viewing that couldn’t be put off. And I did get up at 5:30. And it was dark on this solstice morning. But I did it, and was rewarded with bright stars and a good run, despite the dusting I got by a few passing cars. After I got home, the sky turned pink before the sun peeked over the mountains at about 7:40.

The sun stayed out most of the day. It was a cold one but it did get up to 23 degrees. Heat wave. It was bee-yoo-ti-ful in the afternoon, short as the afternoon was. The sun shone on the snow in the mountains. And the sky was clear. It was good for a peramble out into the field with my son. We ogled the view:

A Little Snow Close, A Lot of Snow Up High

Camel’s Hump was wearing her finest. Here is what she looked like a little closer:

Snow on the Hump

We followed some coyote tracks for a while. They were old and faded and disappeared on us. And we saw turkey tracks as well:

Prints in the Snow, Turkey

The days get longer every day now. I was envisioning, literally, running in the morning without a light. It will be nice to be able to run faster since I won’t be afraid of slipping on ice. It will be nice to not worry as much about being seen by drivers. It will be nice to see what is around me a little more. I love the darkness, and heck, I’ve got lots of it left. It will be a couple of months before I’m looking at brighter mornings at the hour I get up. The sun will rise again tomorrow. The days will go on. Happy solstice. Let’s celebrate some light.

Dark Now

Just back from an early run. It seems to be getting darker and darker in the morning. Oh, wait, it really is getting darker and darker. I left at 5:30, ran a shortie since I have to be off to work in a short while. Back just after 6:00. It was dark when I left. It was dark when I returned. It is still dark. Good old headlamp.

Made an apple pie last night. I’ll have that for breakfast. Stayed up too late. Ordered holiday cards–the early bird deadline to get a big discount is today. Family is asleep. Current tasks: make coffee, get out of these ridiculous running duds, take a shower, shave so I look halfway presentable, get a haircut, get novel manuscript in the mail, cloth myself, eat pie.

I’m off to it. Bring on the day, whenever it may come.

Morning Webs

Every morning the spiders get to show off their evening work.  They spin during the night and in the morning have crafted their best to catch breakfast.  I see them when I head out for a run, if the sky is bright enough by the time I get back.  We see them when we walk down to meet the school bus.  If we are lucky, the dew has been heavy.  If we are even luckier, the sun angles just right to catch the dew-covered webs.  There are hundreds of them, so many it would be impossible to count them all in the short window of time when the light reveals them. Once the day advances too far, they disappear.  I have tried to photograph them but haven’t gotten a good broad shot of many of them at once.  You’ll have to settle for a close-up:

Webs in the Field

Webs in the Field

Frosty Foggy Morning

We got our first frost this morning.  It was chilly and foggy, with ice settled on the grass and leaves and rocks.  Mist rose from the river.  I ran early again, determined to keep getting out there before the day gets too far underway. It always seems worth rising early, and today was no exception.  I ran into the fog across the river, I watched the sun tip over the hills, and I saw the color seep into the leaves with the morning light.  It was the last morning of summer.  It let me know that fall is here.  Apparently it arrived a day early.

Fog Over the River

Mist in the Valley

Running Into the Fog

Running Into the Fog

Frost on the Cut Field

Frost on the Cut Field

First Light on a Turning Maple

First Light on a Turning Maple

Cows Appreciate the Sun's Warmth

Cows Ready for the Sun's Warmth

Running Back

Running Back

Fog Lingering Over the River

Fog Lingering Over the River

Frost Lingering in the Field

Frost Lingering in the Field