Yes, this is the time of year when I really begin to feel it. Seasonal Affective Disorder. I miss the sun!
I'm not a morning person at any time of year, but during the winter months, it is SUCH a struggle to get up in the morning. It's still dark! That's not natural. What other species forces itself to arise before dawn? It's not right. I lie in bed through several rounds of the snooze alarm, and my body just completely rejects the thought of moving. Even the animals know better. In the summer they're up before me, ready and waiting, poised to leap in the direction of breakfast at the first sign of life from the slumbering lump in the bed. This time of year, I have to rouse them. Come on, lazy things, let's go get breakfast. Every morning, such a struggle. Not that I leap joyously out of bed in August, by any means, but it's easier. The gentle onset of light through my east-facing bedroom windows makes the transition from dreamland much easier.
The sun has always controlled my moods, to some extent. It's only in recent years that I've had a name for it, but I've always gotten a downward shift in my mood when the clouds stay too long. Oh, I don't need sun every single day. The occasional cloudy/rainy day is kind of nice. I appreciate the sun more when I have something with which to contrast it. And, of course, as much as I love the sun, I hate the heat it brings during the dog days of summer, so cloudy days are quite a welcome respite then.
Partly, too, is that fall just always seems to let me down, as an adult. I can't wait for it, I love the first hints of coolness in the air, I think longingly of sweaters and getting out the blankets and football games and bonfires...but something is missing. I think our educational system is somewhat to blame. For years and years, fall is the time for change, for new beginnings. New schools, new classes, new friends--it all seems ripe with possibility. And then you get out in the real world, and all that happens is the days get shorter, and my mood gets darker, and nothing changes, damn it, nothing EVER changes, it's all the same old shit, and I'm cold and I'm tired and I'm cranky and...well, you get the picture.
Yesterday the sun came out with a vengeance. It was glorious. Not a cloud in the sky, and the temperature reached a balmy 40 degrees. I was in heaven. I ran errands happily, smiling at the sky. I restrained myself from skipping through parking lots. Okay, you may be saying, why didn't you seize the moment and GO AHEAD AND SKIP! Because a) nobody really needs to see an overweight 40-something woman skipping in the parking lot, and b) skipping is damned hard work and nobody really needs to see the crazy woman who was just skipping like a fool, leaning up against the building, wheezing. Hee. (Okay, I'm a wuss. I should just SKIP if I want. Maybe I only think I wanted to skip.)
So, anyway, here I am. Yearning for spring, yearning for April. April's the best! Who doesn't love April? Things are green again, flowers are popping out all over. April smells good. All sweet and perfumey. I can't wait for April. But while my head is already in April, my feet are planted firmly in the gray and brown muck that is February.
February. Who likes February? Nothing good happens in February. Valentine's Day? The least appealing "holiday" of the year for us single people. February is short, which is good, in a way. The March 1st paycheck comes much more quickly on the heels of the February 15th paycheck than most 1st of the month paychecks do. But that's about all I can think of to recommend February. It's cold, it's most likely to bring wintry precipitation, it's dreary.
My favorite Dar Williams song is "February," wherein she compares the long, cold ending of a failing relationship to the month. She says it beautifully, so I think I'll just share that with you here.
I threw your keys in the water, I looked back,
They'd frozen halfway down in the ice.
They froze up so quickly, the keys and their owners,
Even after the anger, it all turned silent, and
The everyday turned solitary,
So we came to February.
First we forgot where we'd planted those bulbs last year,
Then we forgot that we'd planted at all,
Then we forgot what plants are altogether,
and I blamed you for my freezing and forgetting and
The nights were long and cold and scary,
Can we live through February?
You know I think Christmas was a long red glare,
Shot up like a warning; we gave presents without cards,
And then the snow,
And then the snow came, we were always out shoveling,
And we'd drop to sleep exhausted,
Then we'd wake up, and it's snowing.
And February was so long that it lasted into March
And found us walking a path alone together.
You stopped and pointed and you said, "That's a crocus,"
And I said, "What's a crocus?" and you said, "It's a flower,"
I tried to remember, but I said, "What's a flower?"
You said, "I still love you."
The leaves were turning as we drove to the hardware store,
My new lover made me keys to the house,
And when we got home, we just started chopping wood,
Because you never know how next year will be,
And we'll gather all our arms can carry,
I have lost to February.