This morning as I write, I’m looking out the window at my desk. It’s an odd-shaped window, two feet wide by four feet high. It’s not quite 6 a.m. on this frigid Sunday morning. I’m on the second floor of the building and one story below the window, perfectly centered, is an exterior light flooding upwards. As the snow falls it’s illuminated, appearing as how you’d imagine snow might look under a black light. The fluorescent flakes fall like diving fireflies, sometimes dancing, circling in the wind. In daylight you’d think someone shook a snow globe.
We’re in the midst of a deep freeze this Midwestern winter, bone-chilling temperatures and subzero wind chills. Meteorologists and now many of us because of social media are talking about the weather at the proverbial water cooler and on Facebook using terms like polar vortex, bombogenesis, williwaw and katabatic winds and posting accompanying photos and cartoons, expressing our desire to travel somewhere warm, find that sandy beach and escape the cold. Some of us are. Travel agents have registered an uptick in people planning trips to escape the winter.
Others are bunkered down, not leaving home, cooking soup and stews, watching movies and sports, catching up on reading. Some, including children and the young at heart and able-bodied, are bundling up in layers and venturing out, walking the lakes, exploring the ice caves, ice-fishing, snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding and snowmobiling. Children are making forts, sculpting and pelting snow.
It’s dangerous out there for travelers and for road crews, public safety and utility workers. It’s even more life-threatening for the homeless who struggle to find temporary shelter and a hot meal. When I’m tempted to complain, I remind myself how I lucky I am for a lot of reasons. Many of my friends and family members suffer from depression. The darkness in and of itself is often enough to bring them to their knees or keep them in their beds. Add in the cycles of cold and snow and their lives are made even more challenging.
Spring fever or cabin fever is my nemesis, that itchy restlessness which usually for me begins in February and intensifies in March has already shown its first symptoms. I begin daydreaming; become restless, start thinking philosophically about my life, wanting to escape the confines of my home and routines, which earlier in the season provided comfort, safety and serenity. For those of us who live in the Northern hemisphere, our bodies and our spirits are asked to acclimate and change with the seasons.
The changing seasons are one of nature’s gifts and a reminder of its power to affect our lives.
You may ask what is the cure or treatment for the Winter Blues or Spring Fever. For me it’s remembering that things change like the seasons, including my mood, my appetite, my dreams and yearnings. It helps to find both the beauty and the lesson in the moment, to remind myself how lucky I am to be alive, to feel all that I do, and to be here now.
“I think I need to start moisturizing my armpits. In case you were wondering how winter was going here in Wisconsin.” Emily Mills, Madison, Wisconsin