Catching-time

According to the Shropshire Word-Book, written by Georgina Jackson and published in 1879, “It is called catchin’ time when in a wet season they catch every minute of favourable weather for field work.”

We have a weird relationship with time. When I was a kid, adults in my life put a lot of importance on how early one got up in the morning. If you were the sort of person who regularly got up at dawn (or earlier), you were obviously a morally upstanding, productive member of your community. If you slept in a bit later, but still got up “early” and started your workday sometime well before 9am, you were still a good person, though perhaps not quite as good and hard-working as the people who got up earlier. If you slept in until “all hours of the day,” there was something seriously wrong with you, and you were clearly leading a life of decadence bound for a (deservedly) horrible end.

Exceptions were made for people who had jobs that required them to work “graveyard” shifts, and the like, but even then, there were implications that this was only-just tolerated as a necessary evil.

I became especially cognizant of this in my early twenties, when I was juggling part-time college with multiple part-time jobs, one of which was a night job. A number of my relatives could not understand why I thought it was all right to sleep in past nine just because I had worked late, then stayed up to finish homework, and didn’t have to be at class or work until afternoon. They would quote folk proverbs and Bible verses at me about how early risers were healthy and successful, and only the wicked “slept the day away.”

Which, unless one is working in agriculture or some other vocation where sunlight is literally necessary to the work at hand, is nonsense.

While the human wake-and-sleep cycle is moderated by sunlight, it is part of a complex system of neuro-chemicals and hormones. The release of some of those chemicals are stimulated by the detection of sunlight, but it isn’t exactly the same in every person. There really are some people who are biologically wired to be morning people, some that aren’t, and even some who are definitely night people.

I am not one of those morning people. Getting me up and about before sunrise is a seriously unpleasant chore, no matter how early I go to bed. Even when I do get up regularly at a particular hour after a good night’s sleep, my brain never feels as if it is firing on all cylinders until a couple of hours after sunrise. In the summertime that’s no problem, but in winter—when sunrise at my latitude doesn’t happen until nearly 8 am—that makes working a 9-to-5 office job less than ideal.

Which is why I’m grateful that at least some flextime is fairly standard in my industry for my kind of work.

The flip side is that in the summer, when sunrise is much earlier, it’s a lot easier for me to get into the office and productive earlier in the day, and more likely that I will leave the office earlier, so that I can enjoy the sunny evenings.

Which is why I have a lot less hatred for the arbitrary annual movement of the clock forward and back than many of my friends. I understand perfectly well that the amount of sunlight we get in the summer is the same, no matter what any of us arbitrarily set our clocks to. But, because the official business world does follow that convention, and even in a flextime environment, one is expected to stay at the office until that hour hand creeps into the vicinity of the 5, the artificial temporary movement of that hour to earlier in the solar day gives me more time to appreciate and enjoy the sun when I am awake and out of the office.

So, it works for me. I’m sorry that it does nothing more than annoy some others.

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About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. For more than 20 years I edited and published an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live near Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

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