it’s all fun until the polar icecaps melt

polar icecaps meltEarly this morning marked Daylight Savings time.  With daylight going an hour later on our clocks, you could see more children playing outside, more people walking through the neighborhood and more bicyclists out on the street.  It was a sunny day, with the temperature reaching 64 degrees.  In the morning I walked outside with a light jacket on.  By afternoon I was wearing shorts and a short-sleeve shirt as I went for an errand.  It’s funny, some people were dressed like me, and some people had light jackets, and some people still had winter coats on. There’s only one thing wrong with this picture.  It’s March.  In Wisconsin. And it’s all fun until the polar icecaps melt

It’s funny–when I was growing up, Daylight Savings Time began in the last weekend of April.  Sometime in the 80’s,  it changed to the first weekend in April.  Now it’s the first weekend in March.

The winter that Daylight Savings Time moved to March was the winter that Madison had a record snowfall–101 inches, completely shattering the previous record of 79 inches.  It was strange being outside on that March day waiting for the bus–knowing that daylight would be an hour later, and still seeing snowdrifts three feet high.  Quite a marked contrast from childhood, where daylight savings time marked the first time we would be able to play outside after dinner.  Yes, of course, you could still do that in Wisconsin, but here, children would be playing in snow forts.

Yet today was completely different.  It felt just right for late April. It’s all fun until the polar icecaps melt.

Sometimes I wonder if Daylight Savings Time was meant to follow global warming.  The recent change was partly in response to global warming, as it would enable people to cut energy consumption on lighting and perhaps heating.

The Arbor Day Foundation has changed its climate hardiness zones.  There is no longer a colder Zone 3 in Wisconsin and Zone 5 now encompasses the southern part of the state.  The USDA, which had been publishing the Hardiness Zone Maps was reluctant to acknowledge that change in 2006, but this year, the USDA has put out a new map that reflects very similar changes.

So now is time for me to get serious about bicycling.  When it gets warm out like this, the bus I take from my house to downtown gets suddenly much emptier, and it’s largely because many people opt to bike to work.  (Some might also just choose to walk downtown.)

I bought a new bike last summer because I realized that the bike I had bought a number of years before when I lived in Chicago was actually too small for me, and I bought another one at DreamBikes, an awesome non-profit in Madison that is located in a low-income neighborhood, and which helps youths in the neighborhood to them develop skills with bicycles and working at the store. The bikes are all donated and the people working there tune them up and get them in salable condition. I bought mine for $110 and I love it, though I need to adjust the handlebars.

I decided to mark the first day of Daylight Savings Time/Quasi-Spring by buying a new messenger bag.  I had one, but it was quite uncomfortable, and I wanted something bigger than what I had so that I could easily put a change of clothes in the bag, which will be critical if I want to bike the 5 miles or so to work on a regular basis.  I decided to spend a bit more money and invest in a Chrome bag which is basically bombproof and should last a long time.  If this doesn’t make me look like a hardcore Madison bicycle rider, nothing will.

(Said with tongue firmly in cheek of course.  And the lightning bolt that seems to be coming from the bag is merely the reflector straps on the bag capturing the flash from my camera. It’s all fun until the polar icecaps melt.)

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