It’s no wonder these time changes make me feel like I’ve woken up on another planet because time, for most of the year, seems absolute and universal. Then we mess with it each time we spring forward or fall back, revealing the way we track time to be other silly human invention. Because my days and nights are fastened to this imaginary wheel of time, I end up lying in bed in the morning after the time change having this conversation with myself:
“What time is it?”
“The computer says 9:23 a.m., but is it 8:23?”
“I don’t know. Does the computer understand daylight savings time better than you?”
“I can’t tell, but what time would it be at this time yesterday?”
“Why does it matter? Are you trying to figure out if you slept enough hours again?”
“Yes, you know me best! But later tonight, when it’s time for sleep, do I add or subject to figure out what it was yesterday?”
“Doesn’t that depend on whether we’re using Greenwich time as a base or exactly what time zone we’re in?”
“What are you talking about? We never left Kansas!”
“How do you know? If the time changed, we could be anywhere.”
And so it goes until, about a week or so into this, I forgot there ever was anything but daylight savings time. I settle myself into this new way of naming the amount of light in the sky as if it’s the only way.
While the time we assign ourselves on clocks is imaginary and prone to both sides now, there’s another kind of time that the birds, trees and weather patterns understand, and it has nothing to do with adding or subtracting hours. The pair of great blue herons will cross from the wetlands back to the lake at the same time they did yesterday even if our clocks call it different numbers. Our new dog will stand next to me as I sleep, staring into my face until I wake up at the exact time he needs to go out. And if I pay enough attention, I might even be able to figure out, when I open my eyes, if I slept enough for however many slots the day ahead has or doesn’t have.