I am sitting on my good balcony for the first time pretty much since it snowed last November. It’s getting dark but I’m basked in the light of my computer, it’s warm enough to sit here without the trappings of winter (hat, mits, large jacket, snow) and I feel fine.
It’s amazing how winter can really get you down. I don’t know if this winter was an unusual case of the blues but I’ve never felt so affected by the lack of sun in my life. This is after living on the east coast for years now and thinking that grey weather and the sadness that some people get from it was really nothing that could happen to me.
I moved to this new city in the summer, and I must say, summers in this place are beyond fabulous. I used to attribute that to the fabulousness of the city but after spending almost a full year here I have now learned that it’s a necessary quality to make this place livable. Let me describe to you this winter.
By November there was a significant amount of snow on the ground, we had our first serious snow fall at the end of november (I’m talking over 50cms here) and winter had truly taken over. This was new to me, until now I have lived in places where snow comes as early as September but it never stayed. I’ve lived in places where winter comes as soon as halloween but was sunny. I’ve lived in places were winter crept slowly up as the days became grayer and rain more frequently but no real snow until January. I’ve lived in places where winter never came. I liked those places.
This though, this was different. By early December we had had two more snow storms, and I’m just mentioning the big ones – over 30cms, and the weather was so cold that a bottle of juice in my hand would be nearly frozen in my 20min walk home. January brought more snow storms and no sun. February the same, March brought the apocalypse. I’ve never seen it snow so hard for so long. ever. It’s now mid April and although it’s warm and sunny finally, we aren’t done with the snow. It hangs in dirty, melting wads, covering lawns, ledges and dark spots, revealing dog shit and other bits of garbage that have accumulated in the layers of snow. Not quite long enough to fossilize but long enough to disintegrate into weird, misshapen pulp…if I’m lucky. I saw a dead bird emerge this week from a melting pile of grey water.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD – such an appropriate name) was at an all time high by January. We had gotten so little clear days by then because of the constant snow that everyone was feeling pretty shitty and cranky. It got worse too. Fights amongst people were on the rise = both imperically through news reports and individually through personal experience.
I had heard of SAD before, even knew some people who owned those expensive lights that apparently would give you some simulated sunlight if you only looked directly at it for upwards of 20mins a day. I guess I just thought it was something that affected people who were prone to those kinds of things, like depression. I mean I lived on the east coat, I was used to everything being shades of grey for long periods of time. I thought I was unaffected. I thought that the sunlight I received growing up on the prairies was stored up under my skin.
I was mistaken.
Winter is a funny thing. I’ve been told by many people that winter in this country is their main reason not to live here. I brag about my winter tolerance to people who have never experienced it like I have. I forget all about it’s frigid ways as soon as I can wear shorts and not carry a jacket. I know that other people have it more extreme than I have ever experienced. But it really got me down this year.
and I’m happy it’s over.
and I can sit on my good balcony, looking over the private sides of the buildings around me. and squint and the screen because it’s so dark. and bask in the glow of my computer screen and it’s warm enough to sit here without the trappings of winter (hat, mits, large jacket, snow) and I feel fine.
Better than fine.
I feel great.
A little sun brings a lot of optimism and hope back in.