Hello, goodbye, good riddance to daylight-saving time 2004

October 30, 2004|By JACQUES KELLY

AN ANONYMOUS donor once deposited a couple of ancient Baltimore Sun almanacs on my front porch. Over the years, I've become particularly attached to the 1897 edition, which, among many things, informs its readers that Federal Hill Park was 8 acres large and the highest point in the city was Garrison and Oakford avenues, at 460 feet above sea level.

But these Baltimore footnotes are not what fascinate me. It is the monthly tables for the sun's rising and setting, precisely in Baltimore. (These times would differ slightly within our time zone, as I realized this in June while in Maine. The sun rises earlier on Deer Isle than it does on St. Paul Street.

Today has significance in the Baltimore almanac. Because of daylight-saving time, our morning sunrise today, at 7:33 a.m., is the latest of the whole year. Not even the gloom of those January mornings, when the sun comes up at 7:26, beats today for deep morning shadows.

What I am trying to say is I detest these lightless mornings, getting up in the dark and knowing it is much later than it ought to be.

Tomorrow, of course, is Halloween and if there was ever a holiday suited to commemorate dark, moody and weird weather, this is it. On Sunday morning, I walked down Charles Street in total darkness at 6:40 a.m. to catch an early train to Philadelphia. Few people were out; when the sun finally rose over Bayview and Middle River, I was in an Amtrak coach. A peculiar orange light covered Back River; soon the white siding on some Harford County tract houses shone pink, and I mean a flamingo pink.

A few days later, I went out for my evening walk around Charles Village. Because the temperatures are still comfortable, I wasn't alone and my neighbors were out picking up quarts of milk at the grocery or scurrying to the video store.

This has been a spooky week because of that lazy full moon, which cast a playful and expected light. I happened to glance at a man dressed in dark clothes and a pulled-down hat walking under a tree canopy. I was on the other side of the street. The moon illuminated his super white tennis shoes like an effect you might see in one of Bob Fosse's musicals. It was also Halloween magic, unintentional, of course.

I've often remarked at how Baltimore's old residential streets seem like a Halloween stage set. The shadowy angles, heavy front porches, spooky alleyways and downright ghostly abandoned buildings set a tone perfect for Oct. 31. (As a child, I was taken for Halloween walks on the few enduring country lanes left in Charles Village. The horror movies at our neighborhood picture houses, the Boulevard and the Waverly, were tame by comparison.)

The whole business changes tomorrow, with the arrival of standard time and the arrival of sunup at 6:34 a.m. There are still plenty of sunless early mornings ahead of us this winter, but somehow, I'm delighted to say goodbye to this year's edition of daylight-saving time.

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