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Rituals that surround spring


For me, the first sign of spring is the ritual of setting the clocks to daylight saving time. Unfortunately, I don't know how to change the time on most of my clocks. My thermostats have clocks, as do the microwave, the car, the fridge, the stove, the teakettle, the coffee maker, the phone and the printer. My actual clock changes the time automatically.
We took a trip four time zones away a few weeks ago, and I got out of bed in a strange hotel room in the dark of night. I didn't want to wake Sue, so I peeked under the lid of my computer tablet to check the time: 6 a.m. Sue wouldn't be up for a couple of hours at least, so I got dressed and went out to get breakfast and read the paper.
An hour later, I asked the waitress what time it was, and she said 4 a.m. Slowly, I realized I hadn't hooked up the computer to the hotel's Wi-Fi; it still showed the time from where we left. Now I'd wake Sue if I tried to go back in the room. I learned a hard lesson about how long you can nurse a cup of coffee in an all-night diner.
If there's one great thing about being stupid, it's that you get used to it, whereas smart people probably feel all surprised and foolish when they do dumb things. Sue was not surprised at all to hear my story four hours later. She's used to it.
The fact the changing of the clocks comes almost exactly six weeks after Groundhog Day is sheer coincidence. I don't know about you, but I'm finding that fewer and fewer people rely on hibernating animals for accurate weather predictions. I find it hard to believe a Pennsylvania groundhog and a Florida groundhog would be in agreement very often. The basic flaw in groundhog meteorology is winter is not the same everywhere.
Spring forward, fall back; that's the ticket. Simply set your clocks ahead one hour before you go to bed on March 9, and you'll be enjoying an extra hour of daylight. Well, not really. There's still the same amount of daylight; we've just all decided to use it differently.
Of course, try telling this to your pets. They are not getting the message that the time has changed. So the dog wonders: "Why are you going to bed so early? That's OK, I'll just keep you awake for another hour."
It takes the dog about three weeks to adjust to the new sleep schedule. The cat? He never learns.
Nor will the sun. The sun, the reason we have all reset our clocks in the first place, will now be directly in my face on the way home each night for a month. Why, oh why, did someone think making streets that go east and west was a good idea? Is city planning really that hard?
Sue has her own theory about when spring arrives. "Everybody knows the first sign of spring is when the snowbirds return," she says. "They're never wrong."
Contact Jim Mullen at

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