Father’s Day at The Bufflehead Pasta and Tapas Room

What is Father’s Day without a handful of jokes, a couple of winks and nudges, crinkles around smiling eyes and a warm hand hugging the shoulder?  Fatherhood can be a giant force in our lives to raise us to great heights or bring us back down to solid ground. For some, our fathers have been the lighted beacons of foggier nights that have directed sails to safer shores.  For others, fathers are the reality of a bigger world within which we strive to gain respect, integrity and individuality.  Whatever our fathers come to represent in our lives, one thing is certain – fatherhood is an integral part of our general experience, framing the psychology of our times and the mantra of our evolution.  Celebrating Father’s Day allows us to give thanks not just to the people of our lives, but also to ourselves, to society at large, and for posterity.

This year we want to celebrate the transcendence of parentage, and all it has come to mean and represent, with an exclusive Father’s Day dinner special at the Bufflehead Pasta and Tapas Room, Sunday, June 17th.  Featured on our outdoor lakeside patio, with fabulous panoramic views of the Okanagan valley, live music and entertainment by the Steve Jones Band, coupled by a succulent BBQ buffet, fun games, prize giveaways and more, it sure to exceed dad’s expectations!  Reservations go quickly, so be sure to make yours by calling us at: 250-493-9768.  Father’s Day is all about keeping it personal and reminiscent, whereby we acknowledge, reflect and celebrate the true heroes of our lives. To all fathers out there – have a delightful, heart-warming Father’s Day.  This one’s for you.

-Elizabeth Cucnik









Preserving the Fruits of Our Labor

Understanding our food is primarily about understanding ourselves.  Food is cultural, food is historic, and food is at the essence of being.  We really are what we eat. Food preservation ranks high on the list when it comes to honesty in health.  Fundamental for the future of a vigorous society and the salubrious individual, both of which labor to make the other complete, home food preservation is synonymous with well-being.

Food preservation speaks to us from two very important perspectives.  One is the preservation of food integrity, by understanding what goes into the food we eat and thus returning to a holistic “real food” diet.  Such way of life dictates that eggs and milk should be whole and fresh, beef should be grass-fed and orange juice should be raw.  Despite imitation being the trademark of industrial food, we are beginning to see a shift in consumerist thinking – a revolution in the way we shop, approach our food, eat and live.  Post-modernism drives transparency, to put the control back in the hands of the consumer.  Understanding our food, by way of our ancestral heritages, reconnecting with the earth, and rooting out greater wisdoms and peace found at the heart of holistic living, is where we can reclaim the thrust of our livelihood.  This growing awareness about food processing, handling, and packaging has created a rising demand for real, natural unprocessed food, the best of which can be made right in our very own kitchen.

The second equally important perspective on food preservation is the sheer reality of economy and convenience.  Preserving our own food, (whether grown in our private gardens, taken straight from the farmer’s hands, or off the shelves of the local supermarket), means one can have access to many variety of food throughout the seasons, without having to have it shipped thousands of miles.  Moreover, if economies must be made, preserving our own food helps to relieve food budgets.

The deeply romantic and equally thrilling imagery that accompanies notions of real food, organic, environmental, and homemade, seems to come from nostalgia of a simpler life: what raw, hole, real food can actually come to represent.  Living off the land is no longer a poor man’s lot, but is something of a luxury, as if growing one’s own tomatoes is in itself, a kind of rite of passage and picking wild berries to make family jams and preserves is some great unprecedented victory.  In a way, they are just that.  Each time we chose to produce, cook, and preserve our own food we are triumphing over the comprehensive industrial food system, taking that emancipating rite of passage from ignorance to cognizance, repression to self-governance.  However while the luxury of real food is synonymous with peaceful existence, it becomes a luxury many of us must make room to provide.  The days of frozen-dinners, ravioli-in-a-can, pizza pops and fruit roll-ups are numbered. One can freeze, ferment, can, dry or even vacuum seal vegetables, herbs, fruits, meats and grains. Dehydrating, smoking, sun-drying, air-drying and baking are all forms of food preservation that can easily be done at home.  The revolution starts right in our own kitchen and is carried by the work of our freezers, jars, pressure cookers, crocks, dehydrators, juicers, stovetops and ovens.

There is a something profoundly satisfying about enjoying the fruits of one’s own labor, (quite literally).  Perhaps it reminds us that personal creation is integral to self-conception and peace, whereby food is the projection of one’s identity.  While the industrial food system seems to expropriate the integrity of humanity by devaluing, and externalizing the individual, a necessary return to natural, holistic food and home food preservation, transcends food from being a commodity of monetary exchange, to the priceless product of one’s own labor.  Let your food speak for you.

-Elizabeth Cucnik

Celebrating Okanagan’s Seasonal Sensibilities…

The Okanagan way of life is written by the laws of simplicity: a crisp glass of wine, the sounds of waves lapsing a beach, sunshine on the face, the resonance of laughter, brilliant sunsets of crimson and gold, the rich framework of natural beauty, and freshwater lakes serenaded by sunshine.  An oasis of seasonal integrity and natural grace by way of rustic, unexploited appeal, the scene takes us back to the art of living, by which we can find a sense of self amidst the repose of all that abounds.  Expanding panoramas stretching along an endless linear beauty makes for the perfect refuge for all those seeking glory in sunshine, courage in untapped resource and a return to wholesome organic living by way of fresh foods, wine and produce.  What better way to enjoy the delights of the season in Canada’s summer playground, than right here at the Penticton Lakeside Resort?  We bring Okanagan life right to you, with world-class waterfront patios, beaches, entertainment, a selection of dining choices and menus, luxury suites, summer activities and more.

Our private beach offers exclusive access to summer food favorites and cool refreshing blended cocktails is blissful.  Three outdoor lakeside patios deliver mouth-watering food choices that cater to your every craving, whether it is a light snack or a hearty feast among friends and family.  It’s far too easy to lose oneself among sweeping scenes of exotic clay cliffs, drumlins, desert pine, sage and sparkling waters, which effortlessly inspire a decadent pastime.  At the Penticton Lakeside Resort we celebrate the simple majesty of life in the South Okanagan, by way of sophisticated, intimate, fun and truly exciting experiences. 

This summer, come and relax on our private family beach, where the beach bar services your every need via a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages as well as hot and cold food served daily.  Sit out on one of our three waterfront patios, at the Barking Parrot, the Bufflehead Pasta and Tapas Room or the Hooded Merganser, and take in the simple delights of good food, great atmosphere, and breathtaking views.  While Penticton remains a paradigm of summer, why not come and partake in the thrust of its season at one of the most celebrated destination resorts.  Summer is just around the corner and the memories are waiting to happen.

-Elizabeth Cucnik

The Penticton Vees Dig Deep To Shoot High

The Penticton Vees have had an incredibly memorable year, having generated the best regular season in BCHL history, winning fifty-four games, including a CJHL record forty-two game winning streaks.  To date, the Vees, as a team, have picked up five trophies on their way to the RBC Cup Championship in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, having won the Ron Boileau Trophy (Regular Season Pennant), Ryan Hatfield Memorial Trophy (Interior Conference Championship), Fred Page Cup (BCHL Championship), Mowat Cup (BC Provincial Jr. ‘A’ Champions) and the Doyle Cup (BC-Alberta Championship).

The Vees, described as a “juggernaut team,” are now in search of glory at the Royal Bank Cup.  Toppled by the host Humboldt Broncos in 3-2 overtime on Sunday, they entered Day 4 of the tournament Tuesday night, when they succeeded in a 2-1 win over the Woodstock Slammers.  The win is the Vees (1-2) first of the tournament and advances them in a four-way tie for second place.  The Vees fans are waiting with bated breath; perhaps inspiring what optimists hope will be a win for tonight’s game to keep the Vees in the thrust of the tournament as giants of the minor hockey league.  While the imminent pressure of these games is immense for all (the franchise, the organization, the teams and staff involved as well as those invested fans, friends and family), regardless of the season’s overall standing, the Vees are no less than true champions, carrying the torch of unprecedented success.  Online commentary for the Penticton Vees has called for a “rolling up the sleeves and getting hands dirty” to help orchestrate a strong offense that may lead us to assured triumph.  With eyes only for the net in sight and the winning goal that will put Penticton directly into the sports spotlight, indeed the crowds’ cheer on, as the arenas flood with an uproar of devotion, enthusiasm and anticipation.

We are incredibly excited for our juggernaut team, who has dominated this season with remarkable victories and excitable games.  Standing upon the precipice, we take a deep breath in to ease the pressure of this pinnacle moment and simply indulge in the thunder that follows victory.  As fans, we let the tenet, live and let live, chorus throughout the stadium, echoing in the minds of sports fans and athletes alike, to remember that at the end of the day, it is about enjoying the skill and the pace of the sport, and to celebrate true athleticism and the brilliance of teamwork. Go Vees Go!

-Elizabeth Cucnik



Going Green: “Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s nut that held its ground”

Growing global awareness on environmental issues, sustainability, preventative health, and community has kindled a newfound precedent in our daily lives whereby we are acting locally while thinking globally.  The Penticton Lakeside Resort is proud to be apart of this worldwide revolution.  Our newly established biological smallholding, Valleyview Farm, now supplies our hotel with quality, healthy, environmentally-friendly organic produce, while our geothermal heating system uses natural sources of energy to mitigate energy consumption.  We believe going green should go beyond the celebrated slogan, to befit an integrated ethos and a comprehensive lifestyle.  In keeping with the thought-think of everything green, this week we take pause to consider the far-reaching effects of the individual, the importance of local awareness and consumerism, and the butterfly effect of the think global act local stimulus.

Convenience seems to be the hook line and sinker of commercialism.  Lost in a hedge maze of economic materialism, consumers grapple to simplify the daily routine by taking, (what is perceived to be) the easy way out with marketed convenience foods, convenience packaging and convenience products.  An indoctrinating commercial agenda leads consumers to believe and trust in a system based solely on profit gain rather than environmental integrity, sustainability and general health.  It is not surprising that of the some 17,000 chemicals, which appear in common household products, only 30% have been adequately tested for negative effects on our health.  Studies conducted by The American Federal Environmental Protection Agency found that airborne chemical levels in homes were as much as seventy times higher than the outside.  Incidentally, childhood asthma has nearly doubled in the last twenty years.  Many products that are marketed as “healthy” and “natural” in fact contain harmful chemicals such as parabens and phthalates, highly disruptive compounds used in most skincare, cosmetic and hygiene products, that are now linked to certain cancers, hormonal dysfunctions, as well as a broad range of adverse health affects in pregnant women, children and adults.  Evidence of the detrimental effects of environmental toxins is escalating.  It’s time to return to our common sense.  Natural products made with plant and mineral-based cleaning ingredients derived from biodegradable proponents and homespun solutions made from vinegar, baking powder and lemon juice, are great alternatives to chemical-based cleaning products.  Natural skincare and hygiene products that are paraben and phthalate-free, will absorb less toxicity through the skin, containing biological alternatives to synthetic preservatives such as grape-seed oil and grapefruit seed oil.

One of the major environmental impacts on our planet is the supply and demand of our food system. While the fundamentals of organic farming support crucial environmental principles such as biodiversity, ecological balance, sustainability, natural plant fertilization, natural pest management and soil integrity, all of which synergistically work to reduce our carbon footprint, new research demonstrates the beneficial affect of organic produce consumption on our health.  For example, organically reared cows that consume high levels of fresh grass, clover pasture and grass clover silage, produce, on average, milk 50% higher in Vitamin E, 75% higher in beta carotene (Vitamin A) and milk two to three times higher in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthine than the non-organic equivalent.  Side-by-side comparisons of organic and conventional strawberry farms, demonstrate that organic farms produce more nutritious and flavorful berries while supporting healthier and more genetically diverse soils.  Other findings have yielded the nutritional benefits of organic produce, such as more dry matter, minerals and antioxidant micronutrients, as well as significantly lower amounts of nitrates and residues of toxic chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.  Moreover, while many look to our oceans for healthy alternatives, it’s also important to realize the far-reaching impact contamination, farming and over-fishing has had on this dwindling resource.  However, some seafood, like Albacore Tuna, Alaska’s wild-caught salmon, farmed oysters, wild-caught pacific sardines and farmed rainbow trout, have low levels of contaminants with health-promoting omega-3 fats, and are sustainably managed by environmentally friendly practices.  On the other hand, Bluefin tuna, Chilean sea bass, monkfish, orange roughy and most farmed salmon, are either considered a threatened species, contain high levels of mercury and contaminants, and/or are mismanaged by inhumane, environmentally disruptive practices. There are solutions, there are alternatives, but we must take the initiative.  We must arm ourselves with knowledge and eat smart.

Small measures taken to reduce our energy consumption, such as cold-wash cycles, air-drying, energy efficient appliances, solar technologies, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and resetting the thermostat, can have far-reaching effects when carried out collaboratively. On Saturday night, March 31rst, for one hour, a record 150 countries and territories across 6,494 town and cities participated in Earth Hour 2012, which saw up to 10% reductions in energy consumption in certain areas and cities worldwide.  Reducing our carbon footprint can mean as little as walking, biking or carpooling to work.  Taking it perhaps a step further, would be to lobby our local government in collaborative affect, to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes.  And why not take advantage of secondhand or invest in high-quality, long-lasting products while donating and recycling responsibly?

The more knowledge we have about these issues, the more we can focus on solutions and ultimately save ourselves from ourselves.  It starts with awareness.   It begins with initiative.  Thinking before buying.  Reduce and recycle.  Shopping local.  Buying organic.  It’s about understanding on a fundamental level the deep interconnection we have with our planet and everything on it.  This week we take pause to review environmental issues, sustainability and preventative health, and to remind ourselves not about the way we should be, but who we really are and what we are capable of.  Think global, act local.

-Elizabeth Cucnik




Okanagan Fest-Of-Ale This Weekend!!

This weekend it’s time to pull out all the stops and taste-to-challenge your pallet with a selection of sensational world-class taste-bud-busting brews from across North America!  That’s right; Fest of Ale is back to celebrate its 17th annual consecutive year this Friday and Saturday, April 13th and 14th, at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.  This celebrated occasion attracts patrons and visitors from all over the map and continues to be a success beyond measure, with plenty of accolades to boot, including last year’s donation of over $95,000 to the South Okanagan community at large.  Bragging rights extend to all of us, by the unremitting hard work, care and compassion of the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale Society Board of Directors, coordinators and volunteers, who have managed to gift over $387,000 cash to numerous qualifying Registered Charitable Organizations since 2003.

Each year, from May through to June, registered charitable community organizations are invited to submit their request for community funding from the net proceeds of the annual Okanagan Fest-of-Ale event.  Past organizations have included: Agur Lake Camp, Girls at Risk Program, Okanagan College Foundation, D.A.R.E., Boys and Girls Clubs, Victim Assistance Society and Kid Sport Canada, to name but a few.  Moreover The Society also provides scholarships for the following educational institutions: Okanagan College Foundation, Penticton Secondary School, Princess Margaret Secondary School and Summerland Secondary School.  Lastly, the OFOA Society has extended their bequest, with the establishment of the Legacy Fund, to provide community support in the event of cessation, dispersing the interest on funds collected from past events on an annual basis.  In doing so, the Fest-of-Ale has truly become a substance for community support, awareness and synergistic cooperation.

Considerations of the non-profit society take care to support and promote tourism, hospitality and food and beverage factions and industries within the community, alongside those featured microbreweries, upholding Penticton as a renowned all-year destination.  Many various local and Canadian restaurants, businesses and products are showcased at the event, together with incredible entertainment and musical talent, some of which were included in the 2011 People’s Choice Award Winners for Best Band, Best Booth and Best Food.  Expect nothing but the best from an incredible program of artists, including Joe’s Garage (who will also be performing at the Barking Parrot post-event, where the party will continue!)  Look out for this year’s most sensational food booth hosted by the Bufflehead Tapas & Pasta Room, featuring a custom-designed Roman themed platform sampling the finest Italian cuisine in the valley.  Lastly, if driving is an issue, the event has organized in conjunction with the BC Liquor Stores Get Home Sage Program, for patrons to receive $3 off their ride home with participating cab companies and community groups.

The Penticton Lakeside Resort & Casino is excited to offer excellent accommodation packages with the purchase of your OFOA ticket.  For more information, call us directly at: 250-493-8221 or you can contact Okanagan Reservations toll free: 1 800-663-1900.  The festivities will begin this Friday at 4:00 pm until 9:00 pm and will continue Saturday from 12 noon until 6:00 pm.  Tickets cost $20 (Canadian) per person per day (plus facility & handling fees and HST) and will be sold in advance only.  For more information on ticket purchasing, please visit the OFOA website at:

It’s safe to say, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is more than just a celebration of good brew, it’s a foundation built on the fundamentals of philanthropy, which stands akin to the event itself. By the authentic purpose of affecting change, growth and development on a human level through communal fun and celebratory spirit, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale does everything to inspire and leaves nothing to be desired.  See you all there!

-Elizabeth Cucnik






Probing The Infinite…A Local Scientist’s Legacy

It would seem, on most days, that we are indeed at the centre of the universe.  In fact, for all intents and purposes, we are.  What exists for us in the constant flow of our daily lives is the sum total of all we know and understand.  It is the reality by which we thrive and the logic, by which we rationalize, interpret, perceive and analyze while attempting to remain relatively sane.  It is the octopus’s garden under the sea.  Above the surface, however, storms surge, waves crash, winds blow, suns bake, moons pull, stars gaze and reality, in all its infinite forms, remains an enduring constant, oblivious to the authenticity of the human “self”.  Venturing from the thinking confines of our gardens, to rise and meet the “impossibilities” of realities above the surface, can be utterly mind breaking and yet astonishingly liberating.  That woozy, out-of-body sensation which accompanies a dissolving rationale, labours to create new room for a broader, more inclusive comprehension of the meaning of life amidst a vast, intelligent system.  One such individuals who moves us to rise to the shallows and think above and beyond our daily reality, is Ken Tapping, a local astronomer and scientist at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory at White Lake, located just outside Penticton.

Constant probing of the night sky by scientists like Tapping reveals a plethora of activity surging within our very solar system.  Knowledge and study of such activity moves us to reconsider our own mortality within the infinite, and our position among the stars, literally and figuratively.  The sun, the planets and the movements of asteroids are studied and tracked, particularly those with orbits that take them into our inner solar system, hazarding potential collisions with Earth.  The most famous catastrophic case being the asteroid that hit our planet 65 million years ago, contributing to the end of the dinosaurs.  The discovery of an asteroid calls for the allocation of a name, an opportunity most often given to the discoverer.  This year, three Canadian astronomers have been recognized by the International Astronomical Union to have their names bestowed upon one of these orbiting pieces of space rock.  One such individual is local scientist, Ken Tapping.  Asteroid 293878 Tapping is now an enduring symbol of his ultimate legacy, in honor of his highly accredited work with his Solar Radio Monitoring Program.  Roughly two kilometers wide, and at an approximate distance of 200 million kilometers from Earth, the asteroid is identifiable solely by a high-powered telescope, and is considered one of the smaller “well-behaved” asteroids orbiting tidally between Mars and Jupiter. While it is not exclusive to have an asteroid named after a person in the scientific community, allocating designations for these pieces of revolving space dirt is not a casual thing either, as Ken Tapping joins the ranks of world renowned and respected scientists, astronomers and global thinkers, including George Gamow, who postulated the Big Bang Theory.

Tapping’s labor of love is the sun, in which he studies and surveys its activity and behavior to better understand the relationship between the star and our Earth.  The pioneering Canadian program he spearheads, serves to analyze the critical correlating impact the sun has on our technologies and planet.  Due to expanding infrastructure and contingent technologies, Earth has become more sensitive to the sun’s activities, an example of which highlights the events of the Quebec blackout of 1989, a causal affect due to a solar flare generating a substantial geomagnetic storm.  This international recognition of Tapping’s work, credits the usefulness and substantial global impact it continues to have on the whole of humanity.  Society at large is beginning to look up, rather then simply straight ahead, no longer afraid to feel more than just the heat of our own skin, but the heat of a vast cosmic body in which we are inexorably apart of.  It is no longer fulfilling to live a life in the calm of our subsurface gardens; we must now push to understand the impact of the turbulent wavy world above, in order to better understand ourselves by way of the infinite.

-Elizabeth Cucnik




Springtime, an Ode to Joy…

Spring is finally here!  The new season obliges a wealth of imagery and descriptions, many of which conjure wonderful memories and heartwarming feeling.  “Fresh, muddy, bright, promising, eagerly anticipated, green, welcomed, crisp, uplifting” are just some that may come to mind.  Springtime is truly nature’s idyll poetry.  It invokes creativity and expressionism, culture and philosophy, and a lingering romanticism within us all.  It is not surprising academics, artists, independent thinkers and philosophers alike have embellished upon its spirit for millennia.  In homage to the lyrical beauty of the new term, we should take pause a moment to think on its meaning and expression…

Spring is more than just one of the four temperate seasons that divide up the year, demarcated by the values of average monthly temperatures.   A portage between winter and summer, the transitional nature of springtime exploits the senses, making us more grateful and appreciative of the simple pleasures of warmth, sunshine, color, smell and sound. Suffusing the bone structure of the landscape is the light of its earthly essence, as spring revives after wintery slumber.  With bated breath we wait for its transmission: a seasonal zenith of blossoming buds and floral jubilation, melodiously serenading emergent fresh philosophies and restored humors. The scenery begins to awaken all around us, yawning and stretching by the melting of snow and the roaring of rivers, as does our minds and bodies with a sense of renewal and regrowth.

We are now at the cusp of the spring equinox, straddling the border between seasons like the prime meridian.  As the axis of the earth increases its tilt toward the sun, we begin to experience longer and longer days.  Frosts become less severe and new plant growth “springs forth” in a long succession while the hemisphere begins to warm, thus giving name to the season.  The blooming of deciduous magnolias, cherries, hyacinth, tulips and lilacs, heralds this newfound warmth.

Yet spring is not without its dramatics.  Unpredictable weather, jet streams, temperature convergences and snowmelt contribute to flash floods, tornados, and supercell thunderstorms accompanied by hail and extreme winds.  Moreover, global warming now sees the shifting of the seasons in which phenological signs of spring occur earlier.  Therefore spring cannot be defined by a particular date, or by a particular set of metaphorical and physical attributes.  Like all things found in nature, spring is wild and temperamental, indistinguishable, profoundly poetic and contingent upon a global interconnected ecosystem.  It compels the authenticity of life, turning the wheel of our cyclic beginnings and ends.  Likewise, spring gives romance back to the pragmatic, faith to the disillusioned, excitement to the sedentary, courage to the passive and thoughtfulness and creativity to the dull.  One can only imagine the soundtrack of spring being something of a classical spectacular, a triumph of spirit blasting through in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, as new life pushes forth in an Ode to Joy, bursting with essence and fervor.  May it sound exultantly through us all.

-Elizabeth Cucnik

Daylight Saving or Daylight Slaving?

What does daylight saving really mean to us in our daily lives? Longer leisurely evening strolls, outdoor dinner BBQs, patio toasts or perhaps post-dinner ice cream trips that stretch into the eight o’clock margin…   Many of us do not put much stock into the time change that allows us to jump ahead one hour each spring, thus affording us to exchange longer daylight evening hours for shorter mornings.  However daylight saving time, (DST) which begins on March 11th this year, has a dynamic and deserving history that accompanies a slew of complications, controversies and challenges.

Although the idea of daylight saving was first alluded to by Benjamin Franklin in his 1784 publication of a satirical letter proposing shutter tax, candle rationing and waking the public by ringing church bells and firing canons, 18th-century Europe did not adhere to precise schedules and therefore DST was not of critical importance.   The requirement for a standardization of time however came with the development of rail and communication networks following the Industrial Revolution, whereby New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson first propositioned DST in his 1895 paper presented to the Wellington Philosophical Society.  Curiously enough, a decade later, William Willett, a prominent English builder and outdoorsman, independently conceived the modern notion of DST and published his proposal, which was fortuitously taken up by a Liberal Member of Parliament and introduced as the first Daylight Saving Bill to the House of Commons in 1908.  Although Pearce’s bill along with several others did not become law until some years later, it created a readily available platform deferrable to the outbreak of the First World War, which saw the critical implementation of DST among many European nations, in efforts to alleviate hardships from wartime coal shortages and air raid blackouts.  The United States followed in suit and adopted daylight saving time in 1918.  However since such time, the world has seen many enactments, adjustments, and repeals, as the practice has been both highly celebrated and criticized.

A simple justification for daylight saving time is that it helps society synchronize mechanical clock time to natural time.  Additionally, extending daylight to evenings has been argued beneficiary for all industries and activities that exploit sunlight after working hours such as sports and retail. Proponents generally contend that while modern society operates on standard time rather than on solar time, it is more advantageous to have longer hours of sunlight during the more active periods of the day, (assuming most people sleep in the early morning hours and stay up later in the evenings).  Moreover advocates claim that DST saves energy, reduces traffic accidents and crime, is good for business and promotes outdoor leisure activity in the evening, therefore benefiting physical and psychological health, as well as helping those with seasonal affective disorder and depression.  However pundits have dubbed it “daylight slaving time,” while its opponents claim that DST essentially disrupts sleep and morning activities, (reducing efficiency) and is economically and socially disruptive.  Research on the effectiveness of DST and energy consumption is limited or contradictory whereas modern heating and cooling patterns differ significantly depending on culture, region and geography, while its effects on crime and general health are even less defined.   Furthermore DST presents other challenges whereby timekeeping becomes more problematic, disrupting daily schedules, travel, billing recording-keeping, medical devices, heavy equipment and sleep patterns.  Yet the most compelling argument against DST might be the effect it has on our circadian rhythm, a physical, mental and behavioral pattern within the brain and body that follows a 24 hour cycle responding primarily to light and darkness.   Studies have shown that effects on seasonal adaptation of the circadian rhythm can be severe and last for weeks, while disrupted circadian rhythms can alter sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature and other important bodily functions.  For these such reasons, the government of Kazakhstan abolished DST in 2005 citing “health complications,” while last March, the president of Russia, Dmitri Medvedev, declared that Russia would stay in DST year-round, to abolish the “stress of changing clocks.”  This declaration was chorused shortly after by Iceland and Belarus.  In the United Kingdom, while the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents supports the observance of DST, other industries such as postal workers and farmers and predominantly those living in northern regions are opposed.

There are many things to consider when reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of daylight saving time, such as energy use, economic effects, public safety and health and the sheer complexity of execution.  A move to “permanent daylight saving time,” now implemented in several jurisdictions, is sometimes advocated, however, many remain unconvinced of the benefits.  Whether or not you are for or against daylight saving time, this Sunday we will nevertheless experience a change on our clocks.  However daylight saving time is not just about changing our clocks one hour ahead, rather it is a hallmark in the calendar that celebrates the start of springtime, the beginning of a new season and stands as a reminder of the curious and wondrous workings of our natural world.

-Elizabeth Cucnik

Leap into the Leap Year Bizarre…

A common misrepresentation many of us believe is that there are exactly 365 days in a year.   However there are in fact 365.242199 days, the difference of which, despite a seemingly miniscule discrepancy, greatly impacts the seasonal and astronomical years.  While it takes the earth approximately 365 and a quarter rotations on its axis to complete a full year’s orbit around the sun, our calendar therefore has to compensate, hence the invention of leap years.  A leap year, which consists of one extra day, February 29, for a total of 366 days, allows for the calendar to correctly synchronize the seasons, without which we would experience a loss of almost six hours every year, amounting to 24 days after only 100 years.  Historically, the ancient Roman calendar saw the addition of an extra month every few years to maintain the correct seasonal changes, and was later revised in 45 BCE, with Julius Caesar’s implementation of the Julian Calendar, which added an extra day every 4 years.  Subsequently, Pope Gregory XIII refined it further in 1582, amending to the Gregorian Calendar, (also known as the Western Calendar) which is now the internationally accepted civil calendar.

As a concept, Leap Day and Leap Year have existed for thousands of years, and still attends superstition and ancient traditions steeped in legend. In the British Isles for instance, a custom holds that leap years should bestow upon women the “privilege” of proposing marriage to men, (rather than the other way around).  According to conventions bound in old Irish legend that speaks of relations between St Patrick and St Brigid, any man who refuses a woman’s proposal during Leap Year, owes his scorned suitor compensation in kind – a silk gown, a kiss, or twelve pairs of gloves (presumably to hide the shame of a naked ring finger).  Allegorically, the folklore appears to take similar restorative measures to balance traditional gender roles as the Leap Day does the calendar year.  This romantic tale has been rooted in many early English-language sources, the likes of which include a passage from the early 17th century volume entitled, Courtship, Love and Matrimonie, which discusses the “common law” of “social relations of life,” permitting women the sole freedom of professing their love every bissectile year.  A couplet from the Elizabethan-era stage play called The Maid’s Metamorphisis also alludes to the legendary custom, as well as another passage from the Treatise Against Judicial Astrologie by John Chamber dated 1601, which furtherer discusses the reversal of gender roles during a leap year.  Finally, the earliest documented reference to the “ladies’ privilege” is found in the couplet attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400) by Vincent Lean in his Collectanea, published in 1905. Interestingly, within the same decade of Lean’s publication, postcards from the leap year 1908 express illustrations of old maids with many chins setting silver bear traps and women catching men with butterfly nets.  Other such folklore traditions and superstitions surrounding the Leap Year confer that marriage in a leap year is unlucky, and that leap years can have a hampering affect on the raising of crops and livestock (in the words of the Scots, “Leap year was never a good sheep year.”)

And so, while the Leap Year is a scientifically proven and necessary calendrical asset to the management of the seasonal and astronomical years, it has not only played a curious and dynamic role throughout history, but continues to hold sway upon many peoples and cultures worldwide.  Like a full moon, beliefs in the bizarre and strange effects of the Leap Year and Leap Day are not soon forgotten.  Therefore let us appreciate these ancient uncustomary customs, which help us to better understand ourselves in the past and present, and revel in the delights of the season as we bow to the wondrous workings of science and the masterful imagination and creativity of mankind. – Elizabeth Cucnik