In the Bleak Midwinter

photo by M. Reynolds
photo by M. Reynolds

Give me one word to describe how you’re feeling. Cold? Disgusted? Tired? Apathetic?

Oh, sorry, that’s just me. We’re heading out of January next week, but the cold isn’t going anywhere. And I am usually the last person to complain about it. Cold is better than sticky, sweaty humidity. I stand pretty much alone on that one, I know.

But I’ve noticed, in speaking and writing with friends lately, that the midwinter blues is all around me. It’s partly seasonal – we’re months away from spring here in New England, and even though there’s more daylight in the afternoon than there was a month ago, February and March can be very difficult months for weather and mood. It’s partly physical – we hibernate when the temperature is in the twenties. Or teens. Or single digits and even negative for much of the country. We wear lots of layers. And, of course, there are the telltale signs that all that festive eating weeks ago has finally caught up. For some people, the bills from the holidays have arrived and yikes! Even if you didn’t overspend in December, your heating bill is going to be high.

So. Bleak. We can wallow, and some days I’m all for wallowing. Or we can seek out the light, find a reason to wake up joyful. Here’s my list:

  • Coffee in the morning. Dark roast. Hot. Warm mug in hands.
  • Flannel – soft and worn in. Can’t wear that in the summer!
  • Soups and stews. On the stove, in the crockpot. A meal in a bowl.
  • Root vegetables. Turnips, carrots, onions, parsnips, leeks. Still trying to learn to like beets. Give me time.
  • Meeting up with friends (as long as we’re not snowed in).
  • Writing! Because I don’t want to be outside anyway.

I want to hear yours – come on, you can find one positive thing about this time of year. Double-dog dare you (and no licking the metal flagpole).

The End of the Week and Month

photo by Jim McVeigh

September 28th? Seriously? The calendar tells me so, as does the cool, damp day. My bare feet are cold, but I’m happy about that. Socks are good.

This week had a little of everything:

  • The plumber stopped by on Tuesday morning at 8:30 and departed at 3:00 in the afternoon. We thought it was a minor fix, and I still think it was, but the very nice guy really didn’t know what he was doing. He left at 9:00 to pick up a part and was gone for two hours. Then his boss showed up, presumably to do the aspect of the job the nice plumber couldn’t do. We were housebound. I’m used to that, spending most of my day indoors writing anyway, so it didn’t bother me all that much. We’re still better off than the neighbors, who bore the worst of it two and a half weeks ago when one of the underground pipes malfunctioned (I don’t know what happened –  it was blocked, it broke, whatever it was, it’s been a problem). They’re still not able to return home (we’re attached to each other as condo owners). How’s your infrastructure?
  • On Wednesday, we entertained my 80-year-old father-in-law all day. God love him, he’s a character. He thought it was one of the best days ever because he took us out to breakfast at the Beacon Diner (if you don’t know it, just picture your hometown diner, one you like). Heavy, salty breakfast – just the thing for people who work the fields all day. That’s not us. They do have great johnnycakes, though. Because he’s tethered to his portable oxygen tank, he really can’t do much other than sit, so he sat. All day. And we couldn’t leave him alone, so we sat with him, re-running episodes of Boardwalk Empire Season Two. I’m Nucky’d out. Then it was off to dinner. I needed a juice cleanse the next day.
  • I noticed that the person who had given my book a two-star review took it down. I didn’t really think it was justified, although I do accept that not everyone will like the book. Maybe she had a change of heart. Maybe she read my blog post about bad reviews.  Today I discovered that someone different (I hope, at least) had posted a two-star review. This woman, ‘Mommyofone,’ couldn’t even finish the book. Yikes.
  • Meanwhile, I plow ahead with my second novel and try to figure out what else I can do to get noticed. Maybe nothing. There are a lot of books out there, many of them very good, and I’m thinking maybe I need to get this second one out, have people like it (maybe I can convert “Mommyofone” to give me four stars). So, back to work.

Whatever you do this weekend to ring out September, make it memorable!