Posted on 21 Comments

Time to Call it a Night?

I woke up a bit earlier than I usually do this morning. It was just before dawn. The night was no longer inky black but had a bluish tinge to it. The light has been changing ever since. Now it is mauve. It will lighten until the light is pinkish, then finally white. Throughout the course of the winter I have been used to waking in the dark and waiting for the sun to rise. No so much recently. The days are lengthening noticeably. Instead  of night arriving unexpected at 4 o’clock it now holds off about tea time. This gradual lengthening of the day has a natural rhythm and logic.

The sudden arrival of British Summer Time (BST) or Daylight Saving Time (DST) when the clocks are turned forward an hour in late March does not. It feels like we are catapulted into the summer with more light than we know what to do with. I find it odd that I am sad at the arrival of BST because all that extra daylight means I can paint for longer. I should be happy. I am happy but the abrupt lengthening of the day feels  wrong. The “loss” of an hour is also tiring. It’s much worse in the autumn. Instead of easing into winter we are hurled into the darkness. Others feel this way too.

The EU is debating this right now. There have been calls for the European Commission to launch a “full evaluation” of the current system and come up with new plans, if necessary. In Europe, currently, EU law sets a common date in spring and autumn on which clocks must be put forward and back by one hour in all 28 member states. Supporters of the DST say it saves energy and reduces traffic accidents but critics argue it can cause long-term health problems and studies have generally failed to show significant energy savings associated with the shift.

Blue Hour on Uplands
Blue Hour on Uplands

They hate it in Finland. More than 70,000 Fins (out of 5.5 million) signed a petition asking the state to give up the practice. French MEP Karima Delli argued that moving clocks forward to summer time left people tired and led to increased accidents”Studies that show an increase in road accidents or sleep trouble during the time change must be taken seriously”, the French MEP said, adding that estimated energy savings were “not conclusive”. Belgian lawmaker Hilde Vautmans, however, said that changing daylight saving could mean either losing an hour of daylight every day for seven months in summer or sending children to school in the dark for five months over winter.

Night Walks
Night Walks

I was surprised that the USA also uses DST. I assumed that with so many time zones, nine, that they would not have wanted the added complication of DST.  It was introduced during the Second World War and most mainland states areas still have DST except Arizona (although the Navajo have DST on tribal lands). Many studies have been done in the US that show the negative effects of the biannual shift to DST. Losing that hour’s sleep in spring affects health; strokes and heart attacks are more likely, there are more traffic accidents and it affects relationships, tiredness causes more arguments.

Night on Oakwood Road
Night on Oakwood Road

Interestingly, one big country has tried life without DST. In 2011 Russia   (who have on less than 11 time zones in their massive country) first tried clocks on year-round summer time but that proved unpopular then in 2014 switched to permanent winter time or “standard time”. Russian MPs said permanent summer time had created stress and health problems, especially in northern Russia where mornings would remain darker for longer during the harsh winter months. However, I have yet to discover whether the return to permanent “winter time” is popular with the Russian people.

So if I want to avoid this biannual lurch forward and back in the day, I can move to Russia, Arizona or one of the other 70 countries that don’t bother with it including Japan, India, and China.

Night Falls on Uplands
Night Falls on Uplands

21 thoughts on “Time to Call it a Night?

  1. Wonderful paintings, Emma. I didn’t know the DST was up for debate. I guess they could just implement a gradual change, if either applying or ignoring this standard has health consequences.

    1. Thank you Gabriela. I didn’t, until I heard a news item about it on the BBC World Service.

  2. Interesting read. I wasn’t aware the DST was up for debate. I was living in the UAE for seven years and they did not have DST either.

    1. It thinks its only up for debate in Europe. I was amazed to find out that Russia had done away with it all together.

      1. I agree with Russia on that one.

  3. Even on the days that you feel like you are failing, look inside and at what is happening, enjoy, your creation, your best creation is the best mother for the evolution of the universe. Você é!

  4. I never even thought about the time change issue in other countries. In the US people crumble about it, but I’m not aware of any particular effort to get rid of it. In the fall changing the time has become important chiefly, I think, in regard to children walking to school. And then it gets shifted back in spring. We like it in the fall, but crumble in the spring. I never even thought about how it influences the US as a whole! I live in my own little world…. Love your paintings and the varied light, the sensitivity to different kinds of light in them.

    1. Glad to hear everyone grumbles aboyut losing that hour’s sleep. To honest I dont think it makes much difference to kids going to school in the dark as most of them get driven there in the UK!

      1. Grumbling about getting up earlier than we like is one of the charming, transcendental human experiences! haha

  5. Is there nothing you can’t paint? These are amazing. So perfectly capture the season and time of day.

    1. Dear Ali – Thank you so much. I’ll let you into a secret, I don’t paint the stuff I know can’t paint (or I bin it). I am pretty hopeless at portraits that actually look like those people.

  6. Love your first paintings Emma the house looks like the one my grandparents lived on Pentragethin Road. Nice memory.

    1. How lovely. Swansea Edwardian houses, eh? Thank you.

  7. I like all your “night” paintings, but “Night Walks” definitely tops the bunch. As for the DST discussion, I would have to say that being retired lets me more or less ignore any sudden changes. Unless I have something I have to do at a particular time in the morning (as in, hardly ever!) I can get up whenever I want to, which usually happens whenever the light is strongly streaming in the window…LOL!

    1. Night Walks always was an epic painting – its much bigger than the others (97×73 cm). Thank you, Alli.

  8. On a slightly tangential note, isn’t it well past time (excuse the pun) that everyone on the planet switched to UTC (AKA ‘Zulu’)? So what if that means that in some regions you might work ‘2 till 10’ instead of ‘9 to 5’? It’s just a convention. UTC would help communication so much:

    friend across the planet:
    “I’ll call you at 6”

    “what timezone are you in, again? … and are you on daylight savings time at the moment? Give me a half hour to figure out what time ‘6’ is in my neck of the woods and I’ll let you know if I can make it…”

    1. Ha!Ha! That reminds me that Daylight Saving Time used to called “Daylight Slaving Time” by some people!

  9. Fantastisch the way you are playing with the light

    1. Thank you, Marylou.

  10. Lovely paintings that capture dusk and easy morning. Florida is considering (or maybe they have decided by now) to have this clock change be the last one. No more DST! I think it’s a good idea. We have plenty of sunshine all year round here, so why make time changes? It will be strange to be on another time than states in the eastern US.

    1. Isn’t that always the priblem? Time zones are arranged according to latitude (West-East) but longitude (North-South) is also important. Hence in the UK one argument we heard for DST is that the farmers in Scotland will have to get up in the dark to milk their cows. As farmers get up so eqrly, I don’t think it makes a lot of difference. However, I have to admit it would be pretty grim to wait until 9.45 am for dawn but it wouldn’t go dark until 4.30 pm.

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