553: Daylight Saving, Age 5

553: Daylight Saving, Age 5

553: Daylight Saving, Age 5


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

Each fall I start to worry about winter. Which I know is not how we should think of the seasons. But winter is my worrisome season. The darkness. The cold. Even so, I love sweaters and scarves and watching Practical Magic with friends every season. I love fire pits and hot cider and good red wine and slippers. Many years ago when I worked for Martha Stewart, I’d love how the whole office would immediately become transformed into a decorative gourd bonanza. And though I promised I’d never be the type of person who dressed up my dog, I also love dressing up my dog on Halloween.

But there is one thing that I don’t like about fall. And that’s Daylight Savings time. I don’t like falling back. Sure I like the extra hour of sleep, but then it feels like what comes next is...darkness. I know that sounds dramatic.

Still, winter is a time where we work in the dark. To quote Henry James, “We work in the dark--we do what we can--we give what we have.” And so maybe I need to reframe the coming winter as the time to create, to make things, to work on the projects I love as the hours dwindle.

Ironically, when I was a kid in California, I’d actually get tired of the sun. I hated a sunny winter. I wanted it to be dark. I wanted winter to be the winter on TV, the winter of rain and storms and even snow. The snow of movies, soft and piling up. But what I got were crisp gorgeous sunny days and like a fool, I spoiled them all complaining about the gift of sunlight.

In today’s wonder of a poem, we see the poet, as a child, not quite understanding the meaning of the phrase “daylight savings.” I love how this poem takes that innocent misunderstanding and turns it into something magical. What would it be like to be able to save daylight? And what would you do with it?

Daylight Saving, Age Five
by James Crews

The night my mother turned back the clocks
I thought that while we slept the hours stolen
from everyone on earth would collect like coins
in a bank vault, so we’d wake up rich at last.
Even as my mother explained that it meant
only extra dreams in winter, only late light
returned to us with daffodils and rain in spring,
I was cupping my hands under every lamp,
keeping the fridge open, so the cold brightness
would pool at my feet. Honey, she said, it doesn’t 
work like that. But I didn’t listen. I was seeing
daylight leaking slowly from the dripping comb
of the sun and into bowls, jars, and bottles—
anything with a lid I placed on the window sills
to gather the sweet morning light I wanted
to smear on slices of bread, eat with a spoon.

"Daylight Saving, Age 5" by James Crews. Used by permission of the poet.