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The Gearboat Chronicles

Ben Franklin’s Sunburned Skullet

We just got more daylight by changing the clocks. Which is good. But not really. The daylight was there, but our clocks weren’t. Every year when we go through this nonsense, and then back again, it looks to me like millions of otherwise intelligent people are agreeing to pretend we didn’t all just move our millions of little hands on our clocks and then say, “There. It’s five-o’-clock . . . again.”

I’ve never liked this daylight savings business. That’s not to say I don’t love daylight. Long summer days on the river are the best part of the year in my book.

But, really? Moving time back and forth? I’ve seen time travel movies. I know what happens when you go back in time or jump to the future. Every time we do this daylight savings ritual, I’m terrified we’re going to upset the earth-time continuum and throw the course of history off track.

We’re told this time jockeying benefits agricultural folks. I asked my rancher buddy if it made any difference to him what the clock said in regard to when he left the house or came in at night. He scowled, exhaled loudly, spat and walked off without answering. I’m going to take that as a “no.” Then again, that’s his response to many of my questions, so it’s hard to say.

It pains me to hear the rumor that Ben Franklin is responsible for thinking up daylight savings. I’m otherwise a fan of Ben’s work. He invented the kite, the lightning bolt, and perhaps his greatest gift to humanity — the skullet, which is that fashionable hairstyle of going bald up top but still rocking the mullet in back.

There’s a Benjamin Franklin quote framed above the bar at our local brew pub, Terminal Gravity, which says, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” I wonder if Franklin didn’t come up with that saying right before the idea for daylight savings time. That would explain a lot.

I was talking to my little sister Jessica the other day about my dislike of daylight savings. She agreed and said, “there should also be thirteen months.” I didn’t follow her on this, but she explained: Fifty-two weeks in a year. Thirteen goes into fifty-two a nice, even, four times. If we had thirteen months there wouldn’t be any of this twenty-nine days in this month, thirty-one in another. No more counting on your knuckles to see which month has how many days. I guess leap year might give us some trouble, but we could move our clocks ahead one day and then change them back to avoid any difficulty.

I’ve named the new month “Jessember,” in honor of my little sis. I may need to put a sundial and a replica of Stonehenge in my yard and start doing my scheduling that way. Otherwise all the stress of adjusting times and calendars is going to send me into baldness and one of those Ben Franklin mullets.

Better yet, I’ll just go rafting. River Time is my kind of time. You get there when you get there and instead of minutes or hours, it’s stretches of river and number of days.

The world might have been a lot different if Ben Franklin had got in some leisurely rafting trips. Put some sunscreen on his skullet, kicked back on the banks of the Salmon River in a lawnchair and said to himself, “You know, I think this country should adopt a time change to river time. It won’t help the agricultural folks any, but they don’t pay attention to what the clock says anyway . . . let’s make another batch of riveritas.”