Vienna by night

In Vienna, in the winter, so much of our time is spent in the dark, and in the summer, so little of it is.  From sometime in November until early February, Dan and Benjamin are almost never home during daylight hours.  From early in May until mid-August, my kids hardly ever experience darkness — they wake up and go to bed completely in daylight, for months on end.

The transitions to Daylight Saving Time and back happen at a different time here than at home, too.  Not only does that give me two weeks in the spring and one week in the fall where I have no idea what time it is anywhere, but it means we have 3 weeks more of dark evenings than we had at home.  This year, the Monday after the time change in October was a holiday (Austrian National Day) and we celebrated the fact that the whole family had a day off together by spending it at the swimming pool.

We were out most of the afternoon, and when we started to head home, it was already dark, thanks to the time change the day before.  I found it particularly odd and a little disconcerting, in large part because, strange as it may seem, I am pretty much never out in Vienna at nighttime between April and October.  Stepping out of the brightly lit swimming facility into the dusky evening was like suddenly stepping out into an unfamiliar city.  It happens every year, but it always takes me a little time to get used to experiencing Vienna in the dark … and then once I get used to it, I get to spend months getting REALLY used to it.

Just last week, I picked B up from school and we arrived home with enough daylight that we didn’t immediately have to turn on all the lights — for the first time in nearly 3 months.  It’s the first sign that we’re on our way back to seeing Vienna only by day and likely forgetting, once again, what it’s like here in the dark.

Fun with Daylight Saving Time

We have Daylight Saving Time here, too, as does the US and various other parts of the world that like to be confusing, but the change happens at a different time than it does in the US.  Honestly, I barely do a decent job of remembering to convert the time difference on a normal basis — my family at home may not realize how close I come, regularly, to waking them in the middle of the night with a text message.  When the Daylight Saving Time change happens, I have an awful time keeping up with it.

The year, because of the way the month of March falls across the days of the week, the time changed in the US last night, while our time here won’t change until the last day of the month, three weeks from now.  The US changes on the 2nd weekend of the month, and Austria changes on the *last* weekend of the month.  Last year, there were only four Sundays in March, but this year, there are five, so there’s an extra week in between.  (Talk about complicated!  Since Daylight Saving Time is an arbitrary concept, though, I probably shouldn’t be surprised.)  I have the hardest time keeping track, during this limbo period, of how much we’re “off” from home, causing me to miss Skype appointments and send messages out at inappropriate times more often.  Every time before, I’ve only had to keep track for a week or two, but this time, it’s a whole three weeks.  Apologies in advance to everyone I contact back at home over the next few weeks!

Standard Time

We have Daylight Saving Time here in Austria, just like in the US, but it ends a week earlier, so we’re now 5 hours off from Eastern Time, instead of 6 . . . until next week, when we’ll be back at 6 again.  (I apologize, in advance, for anyone I call or text at an inappropriate time back in the States this week.)

Theoretically, this means that we got an extra hour of sleep last night, but since Liam is simultaneously teething and congested with a cold, there was very little sleep to be had around our house last night.  We will, however, be appreciating the shift in hours that the cessation of Daylight Saving Time provides — at least temporarily.  The kids have been sleeping in later and later in the mornings as the sunrise gets later.  This is great — it is a fantastic change from what we were experiencing in June and July:  morning waking times around 5 a.m. — however, since I have a hard time making myself wake a sleeping child, we’ve ended up with some rushed (and late) mornings recently.  Hopefully this will help get the kids up, and Dan to work, on time, more easily.  (For a while, at least.)

I can tell, though, after just one day of this schedule, that the evenings are going to take some getting used to.  By 4:30 today, dusk was starting to settle and it was truly dark by about 5:15.  For trick or treating tomorrow, it’ll be perfect — nice and dark before we even go out.  But dusk at 4:30 in October feels a little ominous — we have nearly 2 months of decreasing sunlight ahead of us.  It’s already noticeably different than what I’m used to.  The light here is beautiful — it’s like having morning or afternoon sun all day long.  The sun is never quite overhead — “high” noon really isn’t.

Soon, we’ll be getting up and leaving the house in the dark;  often coming home in the dark, as well.  As we move further into winter at this latitude, I know that each moment of sunlight will become increasingly precious to us.  We’ll be looking forward to the days of 5 a.m. sunrises very soon.