Nature by Numbers
Spring Forward, Fall Back
On the second Sunday in March, we set our clocks one hour ahead (“spring forward”), and Daylight Saving Time begins. Then, in November, we set them back (“fall back”) one hour to restore Standard Time. Why do we do that?
- Until 1918, there was no official way of telling time in the U.S. There were no time zones, and every town regulated its own timekeeping. The Standard Time Act changed all that: it established uniform time zones, Standard Time (the hours we observe in winter), and Daylight Saving Time (to give us more hours of sunlight in the summer).
- Daylight Saving Time does not actually “save” an hour of daylight, nor do we “lose” an hour—it’s just that the sun rises and sets one hour later according to the clock. And when days are longest (around June 21), the late sunset makes the evenings seem longer, too.
- A season of longer days turned out to be unpopular. Farmers didn’t want the time change, claiming it confused the animals. People didn’t like having to go to work or having their children walk to school before sunrise. But “daylight saving” gradually gained acceptance as a way to help conserve energy, and as a welcome sign to schoolchildren that summer is on its way.
We can hardly wait for winter to end, so we turn to a book that reminds us about the rewards of patience. And Then It’s Spring, by Julie Fogliano, who earned the EJK New Writer Award in 2013, with lovely illustrations by Enid Stead, shows how winter holds the quiet promise of spring.
The version Ezra used of this old rhyme is by Olive A. Wadsworth—the pen name of Long Island artist and writer Katherine Floyd Dana (1835-1886). She published under another name because “writer” was not considered a respectable career for a married mother of three.