Toronto comedian ponders daylight savings in Canada: Are days getting shorter or is it just rising nighttime inflation? This essay was originally published in The Hoseur, The Hoser's free bi-weekly newsletter. Sign up for it here.
This weekend in Toronto we will dig up an hour we pretended not to have in March, wedge it into Sunday morning’s wee hours, extending last-call and giving ourselves a 25-hour day and a pat on the back for the sixth months we just spent saving daylight. Then we will spend the next six months in standard time, colluding with our re-set clocks, as if we hadn’t just run a scam on ourselves.
Regardless of our interventions, there will be 4,460 hours 26 minutes and 33 seconds of daylight at 43.6532° N and 79.3832° W in 2022. (Give or take.) The last of it will be gone by 4:50pm on December 31st (a breath earlier in Pickering, later in Mississauga). And counting the period of dissolving twilights — civil, nautical, astronomical — we’ll finish the year with a 15-hour night.
At 7:51 on January 1st we’ll start spending the stash of daylight earmarked for 2023.
I spent a lot of my 2022 daylight hours watching the sun sweep left to right across my desk, bleach its wood and heat the computers that sit on it until all of their fans switched on and I'd think to crack a window. My better daylight was passed casting shadows on grass or sand or faces I love; miscalculating shade before planting seeds; driving to a peninsula tip to watch the sun set with my girlfriend then getting in an argument right before the sinking light could pink up the Lake Huron horizon.
By the time the clocks change Sunday, I’ll have used up nearly 3942 hours of Toronto’s 2022 daylight. My iPhone sends me weekly usage reports; the sun doesn’t — it’s just there, and sometimes so am I. The rest I figured out in a spreadsheet.
Each piece of Earth relates differently to the sun, and the societies that inhabit those places have developed different daylight attachment styles: some never bothered trying to save it, some former savers have cut their losses, others have saddled up to ride DST all year. I am agnostic, more or less, but I like the question it asks — where should we stick the numbers on a day — because it’s a doomed one, an honest try at a hopeless goal: grafting our rigid itineraries on the rhythmic flux of light touching a tilted planet.
The above calculations are probably wrong, and they are definitely useless. I pulled unreliable internet data of every sunset and sunrise in Toronto in 2022, plugged it into an Excel spreadsheet and added up the time between them using one of the only equations I know (sum+open parenthesis+selected cells+close parenthesis). I scrolled through 365 rows and watched days get longer, shorter, longer… I colour-coded the rates of change between days — accelerating (blue) from solstice to equinox, decelerating (orange) from equinox to solstice. The decrease in daylight between today and yesterday (-2:33) is less than the decrease between days a month ago (-2:57). The shortest day of the year is 8h 55m 44s, but that’s only three seconds shorter than the day before it.
Daylight is renewable, but looks finite in a container — it drains quickly from a day, a year, or whatever other temporal districts were drawn, then gerrymandered to grasp for some advantage over time.
The solstices have the least equality between day and night, but the most similarity between one day and the next: that’s what I’m going to tell the next potential employer who asks me about my time management skills. And then I’ll send them my spreadsheet and tell them I spent hours making it the week I was supposed to write about saving daylight.