Harriet always hated Daylight Saving Time.
In 1974, when she was nine years old, an oil shortage prompted the US government to take dramatic steps to conserve energy. As part of their “Don’t be Fuelish” campaign, they imposed a maximum speed limit of 55 miles per hour, and encouraged production of compact, fuel-efficient cars.
Beginning January 6, the US imposed a year-round version of daylight savings time, turning the clocks back an hour. The mornings were dark, but the move allowed more natural light in the evenings–helping to curtail indoor dependence on electric lighting.
The short days were especially difficult on children. Harriet remembered having to go to school before sunrise. She walked several shadowy blocks to reach the bus stop. Her schoolmates huddled in the dark, and it seemed like the bus was always late.
As a child, she never understood the logic behind the policy decision. All she knew was that those school mornings were impossibly bleak, and it seemed like there was no end in sight.
Harriet had good reason to recall that bleakness now. These days, an ashen cloud covered the sun.
There were no schools. There were no children.
It was always dark.