I'm reading a book called The Age of Miracles. It's fiction. It's the story about a young girl coming of age but there is also a larger plot going on in the background. The rotation of the planet, for reasons no one can explain, has begun to slow down. They call it The Slowing.
Days start lasting a few extra minutes. Then an extra thirty minutes. Then an extra hour. I'm at the point in the book where days are lasting about 40 hours. When I say a day, I mean the time it takes for the earth to make a complete rotation. For the sun to rise, cross the sky, set, and be ready to rise again.
One of the interesting things that happens in the book is that the world decides to continue to function on a 24-hour clock in order to keep everything moving on a predictable schedule (like stock markets, bus systems and factories). Imagine a 24-hour clock trying to fit into 40-hour days. You might wake up every day at 6am clock time but sometimes it's pitch black outside, sometimes it's dawn and sometimes the sun is high in the sky.
What I'm finding even more interesting is that there are people in the book who refuse to follow clock time and they are following real time. So they sleep when it's dark and they are awake when it's light. Which means that their days are slowing down. They are sleeping longer and longer and staying awake longer and longer. They have one day when the clock timers have two.
I've been immersed in the book for the last week. When I get immersed in a book, it creeps into my thoughts and my dreams. This one now has me looking at the sun and the moon a little differently.
And on Friday morning, I really felt the pull of the darkness.
I've been getting up at 5:15am for ten months now to go swimming. In the winter, I would wake up in the dark, pull on my hooded parka and boots, drive to the pool, swim for an hour and watch the sky change from black to dark blue as I swam. As spring approached, the darkness evaporated a little earlier each day and, all of a sudden, I noticed that I didn't have to turn the back light on when I headed to the pool.
For the past few months, I've left the house in the daylight. The sun has been in full force as I headed out the door and it was already heating up the day. In the last two weeks however, I've noticed a change in the early morning sky. The sun is taking a little longer every morning to wake up.
Not something you'd notice if you wake up at 7am but it's becoming more and more evident at 5:30am.
We're used to annual cycles in Canada. The changes in temperature and sunlight are pretty dramatic from winter to summer. As a runner, I feel the changes in temperature, in humidity, in windchill. As a swimmer, I'm noticing the changes in light.
Last month, I was going to bed before the sun set and waking up after the sun rose. Now, I'm still going to bed before the sunset but just barely. And I'm waking up the same time the sun is. In another few weeks, it will be dark before I go to bed and dark when I wake up.
Fall is coming.
I'm still running in my shorts and my tank top. I figure I have another few weeks and then it will change to shorts and a t-shirt. And then shorts and a long sleeve shirt. Then pants, then a coat, then gloves, then a hat.
Right now though, I'm just feeling the change in the light and, because of the book I'm reading, it has me thinking. Wouldn't it be interesting if we functioned according to the light? and the dark? If we slept when it was dark and woke when it was light.
Because bit by bit, little by little, it feels like the earth is slowing down. Curling up. And getting ready for winter.