High Desert Hoofbeats: Feb. 20, 2020

Time. It’s perhaps the single biggest ruler of our lives. It determines how and when we go places, attend appointments and celebrate birthdays. Try as we might to manipulate it, most of us want more hours in the day.

Daylight savings time will be here shortly — March 8 — and we will live by an artificially manipulated clock that will bring more light to the evenings and make our mornings a little darker until the days stretch into the heat of summer. That is, unless you live in Arizona or Hawaii where folks don’t change their clocks.

The Utah Legislature, in session now, has been considering lots of policy changes this winter, some of which deal with time. There is talk that our state should stay on standard time, while other lawmakers argue that we should always be on daylight savings time. In all likelihood we will keep doing the twice yearly gyration of changing our clocks.

Other time-related discussion on the hill has regarded the starting time of public school classes and the impacts that early mornings have on students’ sleep, health and abilities to learn.

The Jordan School District in the Wasatch Front has approved a plan that will begin in August to let students in the top grades of high school start class at 9 a.m. In a first-of-its-kind move for Utah, Jordan juniors and seniors will have the option to take some online courses that can be done at students’ own pace. I hope this type of option takes hold in a broader scope that can incorporate more grades in more districts. The schedules students are governed by these days don’t seem to give nod to the optimum times that students can learn, but instead to the most convenient times for parents to get kids off to school before their own work starts. Early school days are also to blame for students having enough time at the end of the day to participate in extracurricular activities or work a job. It’s a tricky dilemma.

Aside from how it affects family lives, it’s a juggle for school district administrators to schedule busing and to feed lunches. Small innovations regarding how classes are offered, such as the Jordan online option, might ease the time crunch for students just a little.

Much as I dislike being a slave to time, I love time pieces. I wear a watch most days, even though my phone, which is never far away, keeps absolutely precise time. This does not make me a prompt person; instead I think it makes me know how much I’m running behind.

Be that as it may, I enjoy clocks, especially old ones that chime and go tick-tock. I own more of them than I need. In my home, I hear them keep steady beats and sing on the hour. Most of them are seven-day clocks, and every Sunday I wind them up to last another week.

My husband was an only child, and he naturally inherited his mother’s mantle clock when she died decades ago. It is a square wooden unit, with a foil-type painting of Mt. Vernon on the glass door, behind which the pendulum swings and the key is kept. It has sat above our fireplace for many, many years, and it’s been my pleasure to keep it running. Last Christmas, John gave that clock to his daughter, which left a space on the mantle for something different; another old clock.

Back in the late 1970s when my paternal grandmother was still alive, my parents were busy building a new house for us. My Nana enjoyed handiwork, including needlepoint, and she stitched long and hard to make a clock face that would adorn our new house. Sadly, she passed away in 1979 before our new house or the needlepoint project was finished. But then my dad’s oldest sister, my Aunt Cecil, added the last few stitches so that it could hang in our new house.

Our mantle faces a wall against which stands a grandfather clock that belonged to my husband’s old college buddy who passed away years ago. He had inherited it from his parents, and the thing is well over a century old. In that same room is a replica of an old-style day clock, which is kept running by a weighted string that runs a cog and pendulum. I also have a 28-day Regulator-style clock that an old friend gave me 30 years ago, and a cuckoo clock that we got in Switzerland. I went to some horse races in Arizona last week and had to strongly resist getting a battery-operated clock that neighed on the hour. My daughter who was with me said “whoa” to that purchase.

This collection of clocks is great for telling the time, but is of absolutely no help in telling how to use time. Perhaps our school administrators and legislators can help with that.