A friend of mine sent this cool chart of sunrise and twilight for Monmouth, Maine. (easier to see on the linked page) It's only a few minutes off from the Bangor area where we live. It makes it visually clear that I should be thankful for daylight savings time, or my June risings would have felt pretty brutal.
Or would they? As I walk around outside every morning I am struck by the feeling that I am getting up at the SAME time every day. It is only our assignment of clock time that makes it different. Every day I get out of bed right around the time of that purple line in the chart. The darkness is softened. There is "enough twilight for outside work without artificial light" -- a pleasingly poetic graph descriptor (It doesn't mention the fact that there still may not be enough light to get dressed without artificial light, as I pointed out in an earlier blog.).
I suppose it will be harder to get up at 4:30 when the time comes, but I'm not sure. It will be the same time of day; outside, it doesn't feel so much earlier. It's just another example of our human separation from the natural cycles of the earth.
Back to yesterday for a moment. In the afternoon, my music teacher substitute duties brought me to the middle school, where they were putting on an assembly in honor of one of their custodians who is about to go to war in Afghanistan. I knew all this part, but I had no idea how the day was to unfold.
Most of my teaching schedule went out the window, because plans for the assembly had the whole school in a state of minor bedlam. The band teacher had never rehearsed her piece with her whole band, the chorus sub (me) had never been through the music with her group. There was a festival in the gym so they couldn't set up. The piano and risers were in the hall, so there was no rehearsing available. Band and chorus students were milling around, with increasing volume as they collected their instruments. No one realized that there was supposed to be gym class going on. Last minute cancellations and reassignments of classes were announced over the loudspeaker. A girl came to tell me that someone had thrown up in the bathroom.
That was the first part.
Then things began to fall into place. The set up was completed. Two bagpipers in full regalia arrived for processing in and out. The entire school, including 350 students filed into their seats in the bleachers. Then I found out that the whole thing would be a complete surprise to the 29 year-old head custodian, husband, father of three young boys, studying to become a math teacher, beloved by the entire school community. His wife and sons were there too. When the principal let the students know Mr. G was coming down the hall, they were silent (one miracle of the day)...until he walked in.
They exploded into cheers and hoorays and waved their banners. Several groups of students made presentations to Mr. G and his family, the band played, the chorus sang, speeches were made, and the promise that this entire community would be standing behind Mr. G. and his family until his safe return from what would be his second year long deployment. A professional photographer was there to take a picture of the whole school, literally standing behind them in the gym, for Mr. G to carry with him.
I do not have military family. I am not a hawk, though neither am I anti-war. I dislike violence, but I recognize the necessity of protecting peaceful people from those who would do them harm. Sometimes I see bellicose, elitist attitudes in pro-war people that disturb me deeply. But this was something entirely different. Seeing such an outpouring of love for this caring young father/husband/friend/colleague was an incredibly moving experience. I wish for every soldier that he or she may feel that kind of support to carry them through.