I once knew a crusty old farmer who refused to acknowledge the existence of daylight savings time. Ask him the time during spring or summer, and he’d respond, “Do you want the real time?” To Robert, daylight savings time was just some misguided newfangled invention.
This weekend, we return to “real” time.
While we gain an hour of sleep early on Sunday morning, we give up an hour of evening sunlight for a whole season. There’s something primeval about these fall and winter twilights. Something that makes you want to draw near the fire. Huddle together for warmth and protection. Share tall tales and drink something bracing.
We can ignore this ancient urge. We can fill the evening hours with activity. We can turn on lights, and stay up late.
But we may be ignoring something important in this seasonal cycle. Perhaps the shortening days and waning light are also reminders. I know they are for me. Our own time is becoming short as well. It’s a bittersweet truth that can’t be altered no matter how busy we keep ourselves.
Rather than avoiding this natural cycle, wouldn’t it be better to savor these twilit evenings, this waning light, with awareness and gratitude—in the same way we ought to experience this season of our lives? Wouldn’t this time be the richer for living it with greater compassion and attention? And doesn’t it make sense to begin with those closest to us?
This year, why not celebrate the return of real time? Why not set aside that hour or two of fading light to reaffirm love and life with the person you share it with now? This can be a quiet thing—the spirit of this season isn’t bombastic or overblown. Its colors are muted—ochre rather than fuchsia; the tone is subdued—Bach rather than Wagner.
Maybe walk together as evening falls. Crunch the leaves; smell the musty crispness. Hold hands.
Maybe sit together in the twilight. Drink mulled wine. Light candles.
Watch a special movie that moves you both. Read aloud—poetry or a book you love.
Mostly, experience this transition with your spiritual senses. Life is moving on. You are acknowledging the passing of time with someone you love. That’s something to be done with care and attention.
When he was 81, my friend Robert moved out of the farmhouse he had shared for his entire life with his bachelor-farmer brother. He moved out to marry Paula, who had outlived three husbands. This was his first marriage. I was the “flower girl” for the marriage of two octogenarians.
Robert wept as he said his vows. When he kissed the bride, it may have been for the first time. You can bet he rejoices in every moment of real time he has with his love.
We should do no less.
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.