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Edie at home in her kitchen.

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The View from Mary's Farm

A Little Something from Edie Clark

November 1, 2015

Today, weíre on the other side of daylight saving time, and our days will be short for the next few months. As we turn our clocks back Ė officially at 2:00 A.M. November 1, weíre reminded of this column about changing clocks.
Daylight Nuisance Time
ďSpring Forward, Fall Behind,Ē my mother used to say, and it was an easy way to remember this business of Daylight Saving Time. On the first Saturday night in April, we advance the clock, making mornings come earlier and evenings longer. Or is it darker? I get confused about the purpose of moving our clocks forward and backward. Is it to give us a longer day? If so, I canít figure out how it can do that. A day is as long as it is going to be. No moving of the clocks can make a difference in the length of our days.
I know of a farmer in this state of New Hampshire who does not observe this ritual. The cows know milking time, he says, in spite of what the clock may say. He calls this Daylight Nuisance Time and lives half the year out of sync with the rest of the country. The novelist Carolyn Chute doesnít set her clocks back or forward either but keeps them on Standard Time year-round, which raises problems when she has to travel. I have contemplated doing that. It appeals to me. I like to think of time and the arrival of the seasons as something celestial, a cosmic occurrence understood only by the likes of Albert Einstein and The Old Farmerís Almanac, rather than something voted on by Congress.
Daylight Saving Time was first suggested by Ben Franklin in 1784, and over time we have waffled back and forth in our appreciation for the idea. The war years and the years 1967, 1972, 1975, and 1987 all show up as banner years for its evolution. In those years Congress and various presidents have gotten into the act, signing bills and changing it around, all the while justifying its existence. One theory is that it saves energy. Another is that it gives farmers more daylight hours in their fields (which, by the way, the farmers refute). The British go along with it, too, though they call it Summer Time, a nicer way of putting it. Still, the fact that all this rearranging of the calendar comes from politicians rather than astronomers (or farmers) makes me somewhat nervous.
But then, time is what we make of it. I like to get up at first light, no matter what the clock says, and often those first hours are spent in the garden. It is cooler than in the hot part of the summer, and it is time I feel is my own, rather than that of my employer. I donít think of it as an hour, but rather as daybreak or dawn or sunrise, the finest part of any day. It is also the quietest, when few cars are out on the road and I am urged on by the enthusiasm of the birds all around me.
And so if we want to work an extra hour in the garden, we can. We donít have to change the clocks to do so. Time and calendar are our own inventions, just a method to keep track of things. The sun rises and the sun sets according to that great astronomical wheel about which we can do nothing. Isnít it just like the politicians to want to get in there and change the hands of time? And when they have made their decree, no one is really sure where the benefit lies.
In spite of my objections, I have grown to like this semiannual occasion. I look forward to it, in fact, not for what it does to my daylight hours, for I hardly notice that. But, more than New Yearís Eve, I like it for the demarcation, the new beginning it offers. Itís a head start on a new season, a chance to start fresh and get a little bit ahead of myself in the garden. Who cares if itís a politicianís invention? To spring forward is a good idea.
April 1996

Selected Works

Articles
In 1992, the Bishop of Worcester condemned St. Joseph's Catholic Church and ordered it closed. The parishioners refused to leave, sleeping on cots and on the hard pews. For thirteen months this was their life. In July of 1993, they were removed by the police. In many ways this was the blossoming of their faith. Originally published in Yankee Magazine in November 1993.
Growing up, nothing I could do seemed to please my mother and nothing she said made sense to me. But when my mother, on the threshold of death, came to live with me, I found what seemed to have been lost forever. Originally published in Yankee Magazine, May 1995
(The follow-up article to Miracle at St. Joseph's.) The Bishop turned to them and said, "Your prayers have been answered, the hard hearts have softened." Originally published in Yankee Magazine, December 1996
A reflection on the power of cooking and friendship and the concept of family. Originally published in Yankee Magazine, November/December 2007
Memorial Day, Harrisville, New Hampshire 1995. Originally published in Yankee Magazine, May 1996
My Articles
Libraries occupy a special place in the heart of a town. Evening events at the library give a strong sense of community and make it seem like a great place to live. And in the wake of the online revolution small town libraries have found a way to not only survive but to be indispensable.
In December 2008 an epic ice storm left virtually the entire state of New Hampshire without power. The residual effects of that storm paralyzed the Monadnock Region almost through Christmas. A first person account.
In 1994, sixteen-year-old Billy Best was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease. After several treatments, he ran away to avoid chemotherapy. What happened after that may have been a miracle.
Roxanne Quimby once lived primitively in the Maine woods. Today she owns 90,000 acres of those woods, and her goal is to create a national park to preserve the landscape forever. So why do so many people wish she'd just go away?
Multi-million dollar border stations are rising along our line between US and Canada. What was once the "friendliest border" has become deadly serious.
Renowned short story writer, Andre Dubus, reflects on the accident that cost him his legs.
A trip to Poland discovers a beloved family friend
An elegy for the master of the short story.
Fall comes to The County
Thousands seek healing from this innocent, comatose child.
A complete listing of articles published since 1978
Fiction
An encounter with a sick fox brings a young woman to the heart of her grief