Spring Forward

by Mark Blackwell

Dear Readers (if any), I have to begin this exercise in prose and poetry with a caveat—I may have written this before or something like it. The subject is still on my mind, and I’ll probably write about it again.

Ode to Spring in Brown County

The daffodils are daffling
The dogwoods are in bud
The crocuses are croaking
My road is ankle-deep in mud
The winter’s ice has melted
The snow is now all gone
Uncovering the autumn leaves
Lying unraked on the lawn
It’s springtime in the Hills O’ Brown
The creek-fords are aflood
My spirit’s free, my heart’s unbound
But still, I’m ankle deep in mud
I’m feeling light and springy
Spring is in my blood
But I’m up to my ankles
In Brown County Mud

We are just about to put another winter behind us and that means spring is just ahead. Spring is something to look forward to—at least until the words “spring” and “forward” come together. The thing I have avoided thinking about for last few months is no longer avoidable—Daylight Savings Time (DST).

I remember hearing a story about a government man trying to explain the concept to an old Native American feller. The G-man is going on, extolling the various wonders of this example of temporal wizardry. He talked on and on about the benefits to industry, the economy, and the common man. He goes on about how DST is good for man and beast. He only pauses when he notices the elder slowly shaking his head. “What? You still don’t get it?” asked the bureaucrat. The old feller just replied “Only a paleface could believe that he can cut a foot off of the top of a blanket sew it onto the bottom and have a longer blanket.” I side with the Native on this.

You can say that farmers have more time in the field but I say they don’t need it any more. Maybe, once back in the horse-power days it might have fooled a plow mule and gotten another furrow or two out of him. These days agribusiness deploys high tech, GPS satellite guided tractors with what looks like passenger jet cockpits. Those suckers can run on auto-pilot all day and night.

“What about the factories?” you might ask. I’ll tell you what about the factories. What ones are left are gonna do what they have always done—turn on the lights. And as for the rest of ’em…well, I haven’t researched whether Mexico or China have become daylight savings enlightened yet.

What about the railroads? How do you incorporate DST in interstate railroad schedules? I can’t see anything but trouble coming for the unwitting engineer coming in from a state with better sense. I can just imagine the utter destruction at state lines where railroads cross. At least the carnage would be limited because Indiana doesn’t have a thriving passenger rail system.

What DST does for me is it disrupts my circadian rhythms, interrupts my sleep, makes me too late or too early for appointments, and sullies my otherwise sunny disposition. I worry that it will have a negative impact on my popularity quotient. However, living back in the woods seems to have its own impact on my social proclivities.

So, who is benefitting from Daylight Savings Time? To paraphrase the famous exhortation from the “Watergate” follies of the 1970s—follow the daylight. Like Sherlock Holmes said, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” My investigations led me down two paths that eventually merged—the statehouse and the golf course.
I figure with DST the golf courses get to stay open later. That means that with some luck a person could get in 18 holes and still get supper at a reasonable hour. That works out pretty good for our lawmakers being that a pretty good percentage of ’em are golfers. After a hard day at the desk they like to retire to the links to unwind and let their minds off the leash so that they can generate great ideas like Daylight Savings Time.

It is but a short side jump from politics to my second topic, mud.

I love the first warm breezes of spring blowing up from the southwest. I love the flowers. I love that special freshness in the air. But, I hate mud. I live in the woods on a dirt road. I own a dog, a big dog. Mud is unavoidable.

Once I am off the porch, no matter where I walk or how carefully I watch where I step, I’m in mud. This is not your average every day kinda mud, this is some kinda special, boot grabbing, sole-sucking mud. This is the kinda mud that shows up in Tarzan movies swallowing the bad guy.
I have this nightmare that I find myself seriously stuck, slowly being ingested by the malevolent mire. At first I panic, then surrender, and then at the last moment I remember my faithful canine companion and call out, “Jaaaasper, Jaaaasper!” There he is, right behind me, stuck in the mud.

Even if I could get used to walking like I’m carrying an extra 200 pounds while dragging an anchor—there is still the mess. If the dog isn’t tracking it all over the porch and into the house, I am. I usually park the truck out by the barn. It’s about 75 or 80 feet away from the house and by the time I get to the porch I literally have feet-of-clay.

It won’t come off your boots outside. Only when you get in the house or inside the truck does it drop off and then it sticks like glue to most other surfaces, especially carpeting and upholstery. Its only saving grace is that it is Brown County mud.