Winter Blahs

Below is what our sky is supposed to look like for the majority of the winter.

Below is what our sky has looked like for the majority of this winter.

Friday the sun appeared for the first time in sixteen days, then promptly disappeared again. Sigh.

People in other places often wonder how we cope with our winters in this place. Quite easily, really, as a rule. Yes, we get tons of snow and really frigid temperatures, but we also get loads of sunshine all winter, and that’s what makes it all very bearable. We’re either first or second on the list of sunniest places in Canada, depending on which source you consult. So, like I’ve said a million times to those who ask, and who look at me like I’ve lost my mind when they hear the response, a -20 degree, calm, sunny day is really, really lovely. And I mean it. Sure, it’s frosty, but it’s an invigorating kind of frosty. I guess that you’d have to be here to understand, but I know of what I speak. Honest, I do!

This year things have flipped around a bit and the usual weather pattern has been absent. As has the sun. Normally we’re locked into a system that allows cold, clear Arctic air to flow down at us for weeks on end. Frigid, definitely, but the sunshine more than compensates for the temperatures. But this year the jet stream has flipped the other way and locked us into a system bringing warmer, damp air up from the south. Hence the endless cloud. Now don’t get me wrong, the break from the deep freeze thus far has been great. But the break from the sun has not.

I get a touch of S.A.D. most winters anyway, as does Stephanie. More than a touch some years, but we get through it. Usually it doesn’t really hit until February, when the weather pattern changes slightly and we get a bit more cloud. By which time the end of winter is in sight, so not a huge deal, really. A few weeks of moping never did anyone much harm. This time it hit early and has really taken hold, thanks to the lack of sunshine. Usually a brisk walk on a sunny day, or spending time by a sunny window, is enough to lift the mood at least somewhat. But of course those haven’t been options this winter.

The easy solution would be to go and have a good old snivel in a doctor’s office and come away with a prescription for anti-depressants. Maybe it will come to that if the cloudiness continues, as the forecast indicates it will for at least a couple more weeks. But I’ve never had to go that route yet, and I’m going to hold out now, if I can. I mean, sure, meds probably would help, but they take a good three weeks to a month to reach peak effect, by which time the weather will have probably changed anyway.

So, I shall employ the tried and true coping mechanism instead, if I can shake the lethargy out of the left leg long enough to give myself a good swift kick. Unless of course I can find a volunteer to administer said kick, since the leg seems to be fast asleep today. Any offers?


5 thoughts on “Winter Blahs

  1. I don't know how much snow cover you have, Eleanor, but we have so little that there is nothing to reflect light, to provide the extra brightness that winter normally brings. My house seems so dark this year, the landscape seems dark and even when the sun shines there is a pervading darkness. But with such a balmy winter no S.A.D. happening here except for the natural gas man. He's probably getting a fix at the doctor's office right now. Admitted gas bills are still high, but not as high as they could be so I'm keeping that thought in mind.

  2. I have heard about the eternal clouds in Winnipeg this season and the balmy temperatures.I agree totally with you that Winnipeg winters are not bad at all because of the sun and my first winter in the UK (cloudy ALL the time) depressed the crap out of me. Have you thought of getting those SAD lamps, that you're supposed to use during winter to compensate for the lack of light to help you through this gray, dull period?

  3. We do have a pretty substantial snow cover, Roberta. However, the sky has been so overcast that there's no noticeable light reflection happening. Not just cloud, dark cloud. I haven't noticed a change in our natural gas bills this winter, surprisingly! In fact, if I think about it, there's a slight change for the better. Very slight, mind you, but it's there. Obviously the mild temperatures outside have made a difference. But our provincial government anticipated the hike in prices and bought excess in advance of the hike. A forward-thinking government – imagine that! Of course you know all about normal Winnipeg winters, Kinga, so you can back me up when I say that they're not bad at all … as long as we have sun. Richard isn't bothered by this cloud at all, probably because he was born and raised in England. On the warmer days he's forever saying, “Ah, this is just like England. Isn't it grand?” In a word, NO! I wouldn't hesitate a second to live there for many other reasons, but the weather would probably drive me insane. Yes, I have considered getting a SAD lamp and am looking into them. They're really expensive, though, so it's a case of “how badly do I really, really need one?” In the past few days I've been spending more time at my writing desk and have noticed that the mood brightens if I have the lamp there aimed slightly towards my face. Normally that would drive me batty, but right now it feels oh so good. So, maybe I have my own phototherapy source already!

  4. Living in darkest Africa *grin*, I cannot imagine sub sub sub sub sub zero temps but I being a bright blue sky and sun person (and we have lots during our rainy winter months), I think I just MAY tolerate winter if, like you said, I had blue sky and sunshine to renergise me.Eleanor, my brother is going through his vast stamp collection and was wondering whether you would be interested in South African First Day covers to swap for Canadian one's as he has lots of duplicates. Email me and let me know. ((( hugs )))

  5. Phototherapy is great and I considered getting one. I know they're expensive but if you're a yearly SAD sufferer, then it might be worth the initial lay-out. Oh, vitamin D!As for Richard…I came across that a lot in the UK! People would gasp in horror at sub zero, but didn't seem to understand the difference between “dry cold” and “wet cold”. I tried to explain to people that -25 with no wind and a blue sky is actually one of the most pleasant weathers. Dress appropriately, don't diddle too long outside and enjoy the brightness. Overcast skies depress me as much as they depress you. Just remember (a friend told the this once to cheer me up): above all those clouds, the sun is shining like crazy for all of us.

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