Thursday, March 3, 2011

Coming back to life

It crept up on me like the Creeping Terror that landed in Somewhere*, USA. It had probably begun some years earlier as I reflect back on those years, possibly even in high school considering my penchant for tanning as soon as the sun was warm enough to create a rosy glow on my pasty skin, but the Winter of '94 was the one where I recall the darkness of soul finally overtaking me, dragging me down so that days were fog-filled and relentlessly wearing. The practicalities of two kids (plus homeschooling!) and home daycare (2 more, one an infant) were another detail that is impossible to describe as I really have no idea how I managed or they survived. I slept when they slept and stumbled through the waking hours of lunches and snacks, lessons and care giving for several months until it became apparent to even the most neglectful of souls that I was withering. 
But the darkness could not just be shaken off. It was a cool, wet spring and the apartment we lived in had only one or two windows that faced north (never have a house facing north in northern climates. You don't see the sun for the entire winter and your walks are always icy!). Summer had almost made it's entrance before I felt the fog finally lifting, the sun was warming the earth, and we'd just moved into a new house- a house with 21 windows and a backyard where I could sun and garden. It was over!!!

I thought I'd escaped the prison of my apartmental-driven darkness... Until the next winter, when the days shortened and the days grew cold and once again the lethargy and pensive mood swept in. Not as severe, most assuredly, thanks to the southern facing windows where I laid down in the afternoons, but there nonetheless. It wasn't until some time later, through conversation and reading, that I realized that I suffered from Seasonal Depression or SAD as it's occasionally called. Fortunately, the treatment is fairly simple, cheap, and for me, pleasant enough-- Sunshine! (which fortunately Denver has plenty of!) In winters, I learned to use the sunny side of the house and to throw open the blinds as far as possible so that sun shone on the spot where I read or studied. And once spring came, I was sunning myself outside as soon as it was warm enough to have my skin exposed to the sun without a chill. 

But winter is still not an easy time for me. The cold and shortened days drag at me, whispering to me of the days that I couldn't get out of bed without tremendous effort and then would lie back down as soon as I could. Some days, the chill is as real in the throes of my mind as it is my toes. I slog through winters with visions of warmer climates, a space heater close at hand, a blanket that goes where the space heater cannot, and plenty of bitching.

So perhaps you can imagine just how fun it was for me, to get out of bed on a day when it was 8 degrees below zero and face this... 
I'd driven my son to school and had the 16 mile drive to work. Traffic had come to a complete stand still and I sat in this spot long enough to become bored and start taking pictures. 
Aha! The hood of my new red car!!! 
 (I should have done some interior shots)
It took me twice my normal drive time (1 and 1/2 hours) to get to work that day... sigh
(I think I'm going to call the new car Flashheart... but I'm still debating)
Fortunately, February is as changeable as the wind... a few days later, we were back in the upper sixties and out on a walk. The day required little more than a jacket (if that) and this is the view over the pond as we walked on our path...  
I breathe a bit easier on sun drenched days like this, but I cannot relax. February sings to me of frigid temperatures and pending snow. Winter's refrain continues on, with only the briefest of choruses of warmth to tease me, before picking back up the bitter harmony of cold and shortened days.  
But with each step on this path we are trooping closer to March. Each day is a bit longer and the sun sits higher in the sky. The oxygen indeed does begin to loosen in the lowest parts of my lungs when I walk outside at 6 p.m. and realize there is  the faintest remnant of the sunset in the western sky! 
Then to see (oh glorious sight!) the first buds on the trees, lightly beating the cadence to a new song.  
And to look down at my feet as the Ides of March skips ever closer, the first signs of new life that have been lying dormant for low these many months...
The first flower of the season, pushing their way past the winter-dead grasses and weeds toward the sunlight. As anxious as I to feel the life giving warmth of spring, these small flowers will not survive through Easter (the species here mostly fade back into the ground as new growth takes their place). They will survive spring blizzards and introduce the melody of warm earth with bold coloratura.

The first signs of new life. The first sign of having made it past the darkness that is winter...

*I don't actually know the name so Somewhere is as good as any, right?

Hilarious video with a little social commentary (or a lot, depending on how you look at it) at Meanderings of a Wandering Mind


  1. I think you mean penchant not pension.

  2. Hello neighbor. That was a mighty harsh cold spell. Love the pictures. I went to college in Minnesota, so I appreciate Colorado, where winter is daily and not six months with 50 below windchill. I can see how Key West appeals to you. I worry about humidity.
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

  3. Rogue Mutt: Thanks!

    Hi N.R.! The humidity isn't that bad... the gulf breeze keeps it liveable. I actually worry more about the bugs. But since I can't afford to move/live there I guess it's a moot point!

  4. My wife & I long ago reckoned we should hibernate. Bears have the right idea. I can cope with winter as long as it stays dry and bright, but this time of year, when days are getting longer again, is my favourite.

    Look on the bright side...without winter, how would you know to appreciate summer?

  5. I can see that spring is already on its way where you are. What gorgeous shots!

  6. After years of Midwestern winters, Minneapolis being the worst, we moved to southern California. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. After all these years, I still pinch myself. Infrequent rain and cold, foggy days are reasons for celebration. If I really want to experience snow, it's an hour's drive to the mountains. I love the sunshine. The only thing I really miss is thunder storms.

  7. Botanist: I'm glad that I live in a sunny city! When I was in college in Kansas, I hated winters. I moved back to Denver after I graduated and I was glad to have the sunshine back... and a lot less wind!

    lady fi: I am fortunate that spring is beginning to burst forth! We could still have a lot of snow!!! Our worst blizzards have hit in March (3 feet in 2003!!!) but the longer days and quick warmups help make it bearable.

    Scheherazade: I could not live in Minneapolis!!! Denver is really not bad for midwestern winters and it's hard enough...

  8. Oh wow amazing pictures. Those crocuses really gladden the heart :O)

  9. Awesome post. Let me guess...the huge traffic snarl was caused by just a small fender bender and everyone was driving by gawking to see if they could spot a dead body. That's what happens in Salt Lake City and it makes me so mad. Ugh. People.

    Clive Barker started his book, "The Thief of Always" with the line, "The great gray beast of February had swallowed Harvey Swick alive." Well, it sounds to me like both you and I also get swallowed by the great gray beast of February. Luckily, it's a short month and we both come out on the other end a little digested but still breathing. And now that it's March, we have the first day of spring coming!!!

  10. Winter kills me every year. Here in Scandinavia it starts around October and ends in late April. Escape plan in action - no more of this ice age for me....

    Here's to spring & summer !!

  11. Madeline: Thanks! I like taking pictures and as it gets warmer you should see more of them here!

    Hi Michael! OMG! I wish there had been the excuse of an accident so I could have felt sorry for some poor sod and his banged up car! NO! (unless it was several miles in front of me yet...) The only thing that seemed to be keeping the traffic from moving was that we were sitting at the bottom of a hill and when the stopped cars tried to get through the intersection and up the hill, they would slide so only two or three would get through before the light would change!!! IN the last 10 years or so we have had tons of Californians move into the state, and no offense to any Calies but..., they don't know how to drive in the snow. So traffic (which is always a snarled mess here now) is always horrible when it's snowy.

    Darling Zella! How do you live there??? OMG! I would just not be able to get out of bed. No wonder you are planning on moving back to Florida and changing your life!! I would move too if I could but it's not realistic as I have said (don't make enough money to move to the next block, let alone Florida! plus Maurice isn't interested in moving and between the two of us we have five kids that live here, one we're still raising) but my bliss is found in writing so I will write my heart out here travel when I have the money!

  12. I have also sunk into depression on extremely hot, cloudless days too! But I can also relate to your winter doldrums--and to the blue-sky white-cloud photographs. Those and the flower ones are SO awesome. They brightened my gray rainy Sunday morning.

    So did your comment on my blog. Hope you find that three leaf clover mold. Never seen one of those. How fun!!

  13. Great pics! The crocuses are gorgeous!

    Winter does feel long & drawn out, doesn't it? Ugh.


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