Welcome to the em space, a staff writer's commentary page with observations about life experiences in Logan County and beyond. Thank you for visiting.

- Mary Krallmann


I vote for light

Voting doesn't solve everything, at least not right away, even if your chosen candidates and causes win the most votes. Some public situations needing improvement don't show even up on the ballots. For example, Im interested in an issue with plenty of contrast light and darkness although some elections specialize in shades of gray.

Surely you've noticed how much darker it is earlier in the evenings than it was a couple of weeks ago. True, the days have been getting shorter ever since June. It's a natural progression. But suddenly it gets dark a whole hour earlier, in addition to the diminishing total hours of daylight.

I guess that's the price we pay for that extra hour we had the last weekend in October. I enjoyed the extra hour. Many people do, or at least they prefer it to the opposite time change in April, with a shorter night and subsequent mornings that come earlier than our bodies are used to.

Extra evening darkness, however, isn't really something I wanted right now. More will be coming anyway, all by itself. An extension of light into the shorter evenings would have been welcome at this point. I'm reminded of a mild-mannered farmer who used to tell me that the time changes were opposite from what would be convenient for him.

Looking at the brighter side of the Dark Season, it is lighter earlier in the morning, but I hadn't noticed a problem there. I thought it was light enough. My view is that I don't need full daylight right away. It's fine to work up to it gradually.

When it looks like it's almost time to go to bed before supper, that tends to be like rain on someone's picnic. After leaving work several evenings with the sun setting, the reality does sink in that it's going to be raining on my picnic or rather, dark for my after-work activities every evening for the next three months. That's a long tunnel before the light at the end.

Once when I complained about the limited hours of daylight at this time of year, someone suggested using extra light at home and making sure to spend more time outside at midday. Since then, I've read about therapeutic light boxes which produce an intense light, much brighter than room lighting, though still much less than sunlight. Apparently they work quite well to relieve symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder or the milder "winter blues" which some people experience.

Less daylight can result in a deficiency of serotonin, plus an excess of melatonin released in the brain at the wrong time. With a chemical imbalance like that and body clocks out of sync with the shorter days, it makes sense that a person could feel a form of depression or something like having jet lag for several months.

It's good to know that there's a fairly simple way to alleviate such seasonal difficulties, but Id just as soon take advantage of the genuine daylight. Its available right outside, and its free. So I'm happy to have a longer break at noon this year, which also gives me extra time to think about what other adjustments might be helpful.

Besides tinkering with clock changes which has been done on and off since World War I people can adjust by changing their own schedules. Getting up earlier is one way. Regular sunshine breaks would be appealing. There could be a shift in standard business hours. Another idea is shorter business days in the winter and longer ones in the summer.

Several years I handled the plunge from summer into the Dark Season by taking a couple weeks of vacation then. That way I could be outside all I wanted during the day, and I didn't notice the earlier darkness as much. By the time I went back to work, I was thinking of Thanksgiving and Christmas coming, and before I knew it, days were getting longer again.

But no matter what we do, it doesnt change the suns reality. I suppose the simplest adjustment is to wait until we get used to it and make the best use of the daylight available.

The first Saturday after the time change, I did appreciate the weekend sunshine more than usual, and with sunlight streaming through the church windows on Sunday, I noticed a familiar prayer that fit in a special way. It mentioned doing the work we're given to do "while it is day, before the night cometh when no man can work." It's a lesson worth relearning, even if we have to be reminded for three months or so.

All the same, if a ballot ever presents a plan that would give people more hours of daylight in their regular schedules, there's a good chance it would get my vote.

[Mary Krallmann]      

 

Links to information about Daylight Saving Time:

http://geography.about.com/science/geography/cs/daylightsavings/index.htm

 

A proposal to eliminate twice-a-year time changes: http://www.standardtime.com/

 

Information about Seasonal Affective Disorder:

http://familydoctor.org/handouts/267.html

(from the American Academy of Family Physicians)

http://bipolar.about.com/health/bipolar/msub-sad.htm 

http://www.sada.org.uk/

(homepage of SADAssociation)

 

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