gold against blue skyThis weekend, the U.S. and Canada switch back to standard time. Europe did it last weekend, “falling back” to gain an hour. The education ministry wisely times school vacations around the fall and spring time changes so kids have a chance to adjust. It’s harder in spring–getting up an hour earlier is misery.

The fact that North America and Europe don’t change time on the same dates further complicates things. In the fall, the difference between Central European Time and Eastern Time shrinks to five hours, instead of six, for one week. But in spring, that difference grows to seven hours instead of six for a week, which, at my former employer, we called “Hell Week.”winding pathNobody likes the early darkness of winter. In fact, a survey in the EU found 84% of people wanted to quit changing between daylight saving and standard time. The EU is considering staying on daylight saving time permanently with the next switch, in spring. That could be tricky for the U.K., which is supposed to leave the EU in March 2019.

In any case, all 28 EU members and the EU parliament would have to approve the change, which has yet to be formally proposed.

crazy striped plant
What is this crazy Dr. Seuss plant with a striped stem and feathery greens?

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin came up with Daylight Saving Time, in order to shift schedules so people would have more active time with natural light. What good is all that sunshine at 4 a.m. when it could be better enjoyed at 8 p.m.? Daylight Saving Time is supposed to save energy by taking advantage of natural light, but I also read that the savings is exaggerated.

On the other hand, I think of places like Belgium, where a dim dawn breaks around 8:30 or 9 in December and is extinguished around 4:30 p.m., with penumbra in between. Keeping Daylight Saving Time year-round would mean sunrise close to 10 a.m. and sunset around 5:30 p.m. I would not want to be a kid in school in the dark for two hours. Or a teacher trying to get the attention of a room full of kids when outside the windows it looks like bedtime.

yellow leaf road
The yellow-leaf road

When I lived in Africa, I was close enough to the Equator that sometimes water went down the drain in my sink clockwise and sometimes counter-clockwise. (It goes down clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.) I had no running water–well, I had to run with a bucket from either an outdoor spigot shared by a bunch of houses or from the stream at the bottom of the hill I lived on. But it was nice to have a sink anyway.

The sun rose almost precisely at 7 a.m. and set almost precisely at 7 p.m. In fact, 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. also were referred to as one o’clock, because it was the first hour of either daytime or nighttime. Very logical. However, when arranging a time to meet somebody, you always had to be sure you were talking about the same system or you would be six hours off.leaning treeOn the equinox, I excused myself from the class I was teaching to step outside and, indeed, in the blazing sunshine, my shadow was directly under me, almost like no shadow at all. On the solstices, the most the days’ length would change was about 15 minutes.

Sunrise and sunset were abrupt, too. At 6:45 p.m. you could be walking home in blazing sunshine and at 7:10 p.m. you would be in darkness so black you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. I remember a trip back to my old home with a colleague. We had gone to see a mission that helped kids with polio. At least that’s what they did in the 1980s. The Polish nuns informed us, oh, my, polio is gone and that now they helped kids born crippled by birth defects (the kids were educated, taught trades and, every year, some Italian doctors would fly in to operate on those who would benefit from it). I tell you, the news made me cry. There IS progress in the world and vaccines DO work.line of treesAnyway, we had to walk 30-45 minutes back to the town, and then another 15 minutes to the hotel, which was at the edge of a private wildlife reserve WITH LIONS. I kept telling my friend to hurry up. She was sweating in the heat and telling me not to worry, that we had plenty of time. Eventually a pickup rumbled by on the dirt track. I wildly waved for it to stop, and they gave us a lift–we were in the back, which was full of sheep. They dropped us off in the town and we set off for the hotel, my friend clucking at me that it was still plenty light and I was panicking about nothing. We were about five minutes from the hotel when the sun set as starkly as a light switching off. We weren’t eaten, and that was the last of her questioning my warnings.

The nice part about early evenings is the excuse to get out candles. We had a few days of cold last week, and the air smelled of wood fires from fireplaces. The leaves are starting to change, though the tomato plants are still producing and we’re supposed to get balmy temperatures in the upper teens Celsius (upper 60s Fahrenheit) this weekend. T-shirt weather clashes with the first Christmas decorations being hung in Carcassonne and Christmas stuff in stores.

The same stream that flooded a couple of weeks ago.

Do you like the switch from Daylight Saving Time? Are you eager for Christmas?

42 thoughts on “Fall Back in the South of France

  1. I quite like the shifting clocks. When I used to commute to London every day for a weeks you would be able to drive through the countryside to Eridge station in some light and could see the patches of ice!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am actually looking forward to winter as long as it is cold and crisp. (Bad for utility bills of course!) But I don’t like all this commercial / retail focus on Christmas. It might not be the same in France but M&S put up its Christmas Trees and then brought out all the hallowe’en stuff. The Easter eggs will be out before you know it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an intersting story about how time is percieved around differnt parts of the world! I personally like the Daylight Saving time but I could see how the switching process can fix some things and ruin others. I suppose it’s another example of the fact that nothing is perfect or one cannot have it all. I’m also amazed how we keep moving earlier and earlier with the Christmas preparations. The vendors know how much people love this holiday and are more and more assertive to fulfill that sentiment.I wonder if in few years from now we are not going to have a perpetual Christmas atmosphere, it sure looks like that’s where we are heading. Thank you for a lovely read and beautiful pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Did you ever see “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown”? It is hilarious–the Christmas countdown starts before Easter. Woodstock needs a new birdhouse, and Snoopy goes to buy him one, only to find the department store advertising everything Christmas. This was in 1974. I always loved the way Woodstock decorated his place, BTW. Goals.


      1. Haha, you won’t believe it, but the big department stores are selling the spring 2019 collections while some of us haven’t even found a pair of fall booties. Do you think that they got their inspiration from this Charlie Brown movie? I do agree that Woodstock has great taste, I would ❤️ to have a chaise like that.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m a fan of daylight savings. The whole day length thing depending on latitude takes a bit of getting used to. I like where we live now, in the Touraine, where summer days are nice and long (but not stupid long like northern Scotland so you never get any sleep) and winter days are not too miserably short. I never got used to going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark and having it dark outside my office in the late afternoon in London. Going back to Australia and the abrupt darkness with no gloaming is a bit of a shock, and those short Australian summer days seem like a real swizz, even with daylight savings, compared to what I’m used to now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Long summer days are lovely, aren’t they? There’s a great movie, “Insomnia,” by Christopher Nolan (with Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank–what a cast!) about a detective sent to Alaska to investigate a murder. It’s summer, and the detective (Pacino) has a hard time dealing with the long, long days.


      1. I’m a fan of that movie as well–the NY detective slowly losing his wits with one sleepless night after another. My local video store tells me there’s earlier version (Swedish perhaps) that’s even better.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t like daylight saving either. There are a few US states that don’t switch, but our jobs are here in the East and I’m not sure I would want to move to the desert, as much as I like visiting there. I love the change of seasons, our leaves have turned, overnight it seems, and are falling rapidly. My daughter and I used to collect the falling leaves every year, and even though she’s grown and married and living elsewhere, I still do that as they make lovely, colourful decorations…lol. Love your post, miss the long summer nights in Cambridge (blackout curtains are the best), but every place we’ve lived has had something special about it, so it’s all good. Already finished Christmas shopping…I’m one of those “nuts” who buy gifts whenever I see something I think someone would like/enjoy and tuck them away in a box in my craft closet…all that’s left is wrapping.
    Enjoy the fall.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When told the reason for daylight saving time the old Indian said:
    ‘Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.’
    I came across that saying a long time ago and it made me smile at the time. For a time I used to work in a windowless office- in winter it was dark when I arrived and dark when I left, no matter that there was daylight saving time. I think we should just adapt to the seasons…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think it’s about thinking you have a longer blanket–in a way, it’s like a currency devaluation. If an economy is out of whack, it’s politically impossible to tell people, hey, you all need to take a 20% pay cut. But if you devalue a currency by 20% that’s what happens. And nobody can escape it. Of course, people could decide to start work earlier in winter or later in summer in order to maximize the use of sunlight. But some people might not agree. So instead, the clocks change. Boom–everybody has to be on board.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t really care about Daylight Saving Time. I don’t believe it makes of a difference eitherway. Not in Greece anyway, which is where I live. I am eager for Christmas though. I saw the first lit Christmas tree on the way home today! Loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is so interesting! I had no idea it was Benjamin Franklin who came up with Daylight Savings.
    I’m from Spain and I honestly don’t like the switch. On the one hand, I don’t think we save that much energy -quite the opposite- because I still have to switch the lights on when I get up and I have to switch them on much earlier in the evening. On the other hand, my body needs a few days to adjust which I don’t think is good for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s summer that’s off–that’s when we have Daylight Saving Time. Winter is Standard Time. Whether it’s light or not in the morning then depends on how far east you are in your time zone (for Spain–all the way west), and how far south you are (Spain does better in that department).


  9. When I worked I liked it very much, as I had daylight when I got home in the winter so that I could do some things outdoors in the garden. I like it fine here in Provence, but if they end it I won’t be terribly upset. Particularly as I am not at risk from lions after dark. We did, however, have a “chat sauvage” – one of the two wild felines in France – in one of our tall pine trees last week.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi,
    But don’t we all have various obligations when it comes to our families and communities? And is it a sin wanting to improve your life and start a new chapter and at the same time feel stuck and unable to make these changes?

    So YOU never got stuck in life? Ever? And you never felt any obligation to your family clash with your desires and dreams?

    And honestly, how DO you get unstuck anyway? Most of us aren’t celebrities or jetsetters, so I’m not sure how blaming the victim is productive here.

    Have you yourself felt stuck but wanting, Idunno, some help — or at least precise guidelines how to get unstuck?

    And who are you to pass judgement if someone is a good or a bad person if they’re unhappy?

    Do you think expats (well, you are an immigrant to be precise) CHOOSE to have a welcoming or unwelcoming environment? NO!

    Because maybe you start immigration with a lot of hopes and dreams, and then the world order changes but you can’t just ditch those you love. What a heartless response!

    There are plenty of good people who run into problems and get stuck and don’t have the courage or opportunities (and what’s wrong with that, anyway?) to follow their dreams.

    It’s like you’re saying that someone only has to be bold and follow their bliss and chase their dreams, otherwise it’s THEIR fault.

    Like following your dreams is a right, and not a privilege.

    I do agree with you in regards to adjustment and stress but I don’t think people are these superhero prototypes who are able to automatically automatically fit in and be happy and persuade entire communities to accept and celebrate them

    Sorry, I like your blog and I see you make an effort, but I just can’t deal with you blaming the victim. Nobody CHOOSES to be unhappy. Nobody chooses a certain political era to clash with their immigration.

    You can’t even FORESEE what will happen in your future. And honestly, again, what’s wrong with people getting stuck? That’s what people do. They get stuck.

    They can’t make friends, it’s hard to cope, but come the fuck on, nobody CHOOSES to get stuck in life.
    Because life and family are about compromise. And sometimes we have to compromise and let go of some of our dreams so we could stay with our family. Have you never raised a child?

    Oh and like DARE TO FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS, and discard the reality? Otherwise you’re a bad person. Why don’t you get off our high horse?

    If you’re writing a blog just to present your life in some sort of perfect light while passing judgement on other people, please don’t bother, we have enough of that on Instagram.

    I’m sure all those people who comment on your blog are real, and not sockpuppets, and if you were truly ALL THAT AND A BAG OF CHIPS, why would you need to inflate your comments and where are all the REAL friend from your oh-so-successful expat life?

    Get off your high horse, just because you’re ancient, it doesn’t mean you’re wise or better than anyone else.


    1. Who are you? Why do you take this tone, and what has happened to you that you are this angry? Are you an expat? I am one also, and have had ups and downs of course, but cannot imagine feeling like you apparently feel, and blaming others because they’re happy! No one here thinks they’re better than anyone else. What is ancient? I’m probably older than the author of this blog, I was 65 when I came here ten years ago! I would suggest that your post be deleted, and that you take your bad feelings somewhere else. Why don’t you just unsubscribe? Sorry about your bad life, but its not anyone else’s fault.
      bonnie in provence

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I approved the comment because I want people to have a voice, as long as it isn’t racist or sexist, which this wasn’t. When writing a comment on another blog, we shorten and compress, and this writer was responding to something I wrote elsewhere. I don’t want to sanitize life here, but I have to admit that I can’t complain. No place is perfect, everything could be better, but I am pretty darn happy with France. As far as writing a blog, no, I’m not going to whine; who wants to hear that? I don’t want to hear it from myself! At the same time, I know plenty of people who have not pursued their big dreams and who harbor resentments about that. I also know plenty of people who stayed put, have great, fulfilling lives and who are 200% happy without having moved more than a mile from where they grew up. Fantastic. I have so much respect for them. I can’t say whether the writer has a bad life, but something in my abbreviated reply elsewhere rubbed her the wrong way. Sorry about that. I do take offense at expats who blame the French for everything, but I don’t think this writer would disagree with that.
        And for the record, I’m pushing 60.


  11. I love daylight savings time, I think I am in the minority but I like when it gets dark earlier. I gives me the excuse to slow down and enjoy some downtime. I do a lot more baking, projects and reading in Fall and Winter.

    I cannot imagine walking in the dark knowing their are lions laying in wait. Thank goodness for the truck that came along.

    Have a great week.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I abhor the change! Throws me off for weeks. Don’t care which time we use as long as it stzys the same. Now the EU is claiming it will take another 2 years to coordinate the schedules in various member states and with airlines, etc. So we’ll have to put up with it a bit longer. 😩

    Liked by 1 person

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