Fall back? Id rather fall ahead

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer November 15, 2013 07:17 am
The headline “Dewey defeats Truman,” from the Chicago Daily Tribune, might be most famous newspaper error ever.

I can empathize with Dewey, the Republican candidate for president in 1948. My campaign to switch Northeast Oregon from Pacific Time to Mountain Time has been about as successful as Dewey’s bid.

The idea is to give us more daylight in the evenings — to do important outdoor work like chasing deer out of the yard.

Now — drum roll, please — I have a new idea. Just make sundown 9 p.m. the year around.

Sure, in the middle of winter, sunup wouldn’t be until about noon. Kids would go to school in the dark. Workers would go to work in the dark. People who work outside in the morning would have to wear head lamps.

My wife, the Wonder Woman, who apparently was a psychology major, thinks I’m crazy. She points out that we’d be changing clocks constantly so the sun would go down at precisely 9 p.m. day after day.

Still, I don’t like falling back. On Nov. 3, when Daylight Savings Time ended, we changed the 39 clocks in our house and fell back an hour. That way, we got more light in the morning for those glorious red sky in morning sailors take warning sunrises.

We also got evenings that resemble the middle of a mile-long tunnel. 

I’d rather fall ahead — to spring.

November nights can be lonely. I come home from work in the dark. Without my love there — we live in separate houses during the work week — the mountain cabin feels empty. Sometimes I light a fire in the wood stove to chase away the gloom and to heat up the spiders clinging to the stovepipe.

Spiders can run surprisingly fast.

At the mountain cabin, we have two cherry trees and a London plane tree in the yard. They shed their leaves in early November, and the yard becomes a blanket of gold.

Since I spend weekends with my spouse, I have to find a way to accomplish weekend chores on weekday evenings. No problem. The head lamp from L.L. Bean is perfect for night raking. Under the light, the leaves become even more brilliant.

Sometimes I am envious of people who have weekends to accomplish routine chores. Maybe they, in turn, are envious of my adventurous lifestyle. No problem. Envy is one of the seven deadly sins. I try not to go there and instead remember my blessings — a loving wife with a great sense of humor. Jobs. The chance to live the American dream, even if that means two extremely modest homes, two sets of not-so-modest bills and driving the wheels off the Prius Snow Leopard. 

Raking leaves is a rite of passage of fall. It’s a chance to contemplate the four seasons — fall, winter, spring and road construction.

Each leaf I rake is a step closer to spring — and the day when my love and I can live in the same house, full time. We’ve lived this way five years already and know, after crunching the numbers we can’t just give up a job. We have about 10 years to retirement. We won’t be rich, except in spirit and in golden leaves. But we do have homes, electricity, running water and share the same moon. 

Rake in hand, I gaze at the moon, and think of my love 90 miles away, admiring the same moon. More likely, however, she is inside, thankful for central heating and making “stained glass” art from fabric.

Leaves come and go. Our love is a constant. Instead of falling back, I want to fall ahead — toward a future that we spend together as an ordinary couple, enjoying each chore as it comes, even replacing the toilet paper roll. 

Each day I prepare for that future. However, there’s no rush. I want to enjoy the next 10 years, one day at a time, not plow through them like a bull in a glass shop. And when, at last, we are together, full time, I want to enjoy each day then, too.

Sometimes life gives us Dewey moments. Other times it gives us gold. We just have to get past the Deweys and look for the gold.

Contact Jeff Petersen at 541-963-3161 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Jeff on Twitter @lagrandenewsGo.