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Tom Chaney No. 250: And Finally, Spring

Of Writers and Their Books, No. 250: 18 April 2010 Finally, Springf
The next earlier Tom Chaney book review: Rigor Morality: Ralph McInerny, Thomas Aquinas, and Father Dowling

By Tom Chaney
Email: Tom Chaney

And finally, Spring

I think spring is here to stay for its usual brief visit.

For a while, it seemed it would never come. This year more than most it toyed with us. February, not April, is the cruelest month. Also the longest.

A few days ago I motored with a friend eastward from cave country. Spring is spread out over Barren, Metcalfe, and Cumberland counties. It has even edged a bit into Clinton and down into Tennessee.

Redbud has finally emerged into glorious pink and dogwood's white is tinting the pale green of the hills.

A drive in that direction causes me to think about the nature of time and our messing with it in these parts.

Head out east from Horse Cave and about eighty miles over yonder one enters the Eastern time zone - properly so, as it should be, as god and the railroads set it forth about 140 years ago.

But drive north.

Right at the edge of Hart County is that dreaded time change line. One encounters the time zone tumor of the Louisville Chamber of Commerce who messed with hours back in the 1950's to align their business clocks with those on the east coast.

They almost got us in Horse Cave -- missing by sixteen miles.

And then daylight savings time.

In the 50's not everybody fiddled with clocks. I remember starting to school in the Bluegrass summer of 1956. When it was 5:00 a.m., slow time in Horse Cave, 'twas 7:00 a.m. eastern daylight time on the campus at Georgetown. Being a Baptist college you might have expected it to be behind the times. But, no, there it was -- galumphing along with the University of Kentucky and the rest -- rushing toward night.

But my favorite story of time comes from the earlier time change in the late nineteenth century when the nation moved from sun time to railroad time.

From the beginning the railroad rule was that time down the line was set by the clocks in the home office. Hence the Louisville and Nashville Railroad ran by Louisville time.

The government then decreed that there be time zones.

At the Pisgah Church in Woodford County the good Presbyterians refused the change. "God set the sun in the heavens," they must have opined, "and we set our clocks by His orb."

The church refused to change. Pisgah (God's) time and railroad time were twenty minutes apart.

There they stood -- stolid Calvinists they -- until a fire and brimstone preacher delivered a rip-snorting sermon explaining that if they changed from Pisgah time to railroad time they could come to church twenty minutes later and leave twenty minutes earlier.

God's clock was trumped.

I don't really know just why I got off on matters of time and spring light except that I don't understand just why changing the clocks twice a year is necessary and helpful.

I do know that the extra morning daylight cuts down on the daylight in the afternoon and evening. I also know that the tomatoes we used to get were sweeter and more flavorful than those that come our way these days.

Does it not follow that the extra morning daylight of daylight saving time, coming as it does afore noon has harmed the tomatoes? If that be true, then what of milk? Or whiskey?

Even with the tinkering with time, spring has arrived. Let us give thanks and bask in the beauty of it. We will get the hour's sleep back come winter.

In the meantime be grateful that metrification has proceeded no further. We still walk a mile, not a kilometer, for a Camel.

If God had intended for there to be metrification, there would only have been ten apostles.

Tom Chaney can be found telling stories, planning his next meal, and occasionally selling books at
Box 73 / 111 Water Street
Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749
Email: Tom Chaney

This story was posted on 2010-04-18 11:20:09
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