It’s a relief that the temperature has finally made it to the mid thirties. My chicken's water bowl actually wasn't frozen solid, yesterday evening.
Generally speaking, though, we’re in the most miserable time of year. Everyone seems crabby, and eager to spread the dark word. We’re weary from clearing snow, which is often more dingy and gray than picturesque, and stinging with the realization that winter is barely more than half over. Still, this rare sunny and relatively warm day is a great relief.
One winter, years ago, I worked in Manhattan, and was enjoying the mid-December holiday glow that is fairly ubiquitous in the country, but with a unique vibe in that city. Then, just a couple days after Time Square's glowing ball dropped, I was stuck in traffic, and a cab driver rolled down his window and shouted at a passing bicycle messenger, “F#@CK You, you stupid F@!Cking a@$hole! F@*&CK F@CK You!!”
It was so authentic and unrestrained New York, reminiscing about it still cracks me up, twenty years later. I remember thinking that despite some lingering strings of colored lights, his outburst marked the official end of the holiday season. Now, every year, I await witnessing that first event of open hostility to mark the end of the period of goodwill. It always happens in the first few days of January. And that instance of crabbiness heralds a stretch of doldrums that can last until April.
There are only faint glimmers of hope in January and February. It’s a minor lift that daylight starts getting longer. Girl Scout cookies help a little bit. Valentine’s Day can go either way. Then, it’s always disheartening how long and treacherous March is, and how its last days behave more like winter despite being technically and legally spring. There will be some warmer days like today, coming in a few weeks. Now, though, we’re at pretty much the bleakest rock bottom.
For me personally, this past week sucked, with its endless snowing, a broken snowblower and the need to spend too much money on a replacement (which also immediately broke), a sore back and sore throat, children sick with colds and cabin fever, and to add insult to injury, a dead duck. And then there are all the crabby reactions hurled my way from fellow crabs, which is a low tide that beaches all boats.
During a recent sleepless night, I was aimlessly websurfing, starting with “seasonal affective disorder,” which eventually led me to perhaps the world’s most evil website, the URL of which I will not post. It seemed to be an emergency suicide prevention resource, with a labyrinth of links promising wisdom and resources, which ultimately led to …. dietary supplements, for sale. In fact, there was no live depression counselor, no helpful strategies, no message boards where you could share your urgent needs. All you got was an order form for some snake oil. Unbelievable. Hopefully, that site hasn’t killed too many people.
Alas, I’m not going to be able to end this post with any real reassurances. I just don’t have any to share. Except a reminder that everyone is simultaneously crabby, now. Maybe that thought, plus a rare sunny afternoon, will do something.
Meanwhile, we’re still a few weeks out from when it’s appropriate to start seedlings. It’s a good time to scour seed catalogs, though. Starting tomatoes indoors is a way to help connect into spring, before it’s time.
As a last-ditch attempt, here’s one of my songs, “Crabby Day.” Maybe it will cheer someone up. That’s me on vocals, Nik “A”on guitars and bass, Charys Schuler Punto on fiddle, John Wilson on banjo. (You probably already know that the full CD "Fantasy Monologue" is available at the General Store, and also Amazon and CDBaby.)
Crabby Day.aiff by Fantasy Monologue