Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Are We There Yet?

Or alternately titled "When is this flipping winter going to be over?"

It's my first full winter back in the Seattle area in five  years.  It's also the first winter back here since living in Indonesia, an EQUATORIAL country where average high and low temperatures don't vary much.  Take a look. low of 75 degrees Fahrenheit in December. Seattle on the other hand, looks a little different.

I grew up near Seattle.  I know that the fall and winter and spring are generally long gray dreary days/weeks/months. I've learned to combat the cold with long underwear that I wear all the time, everyday under my pants. What surprised me this year was what trouble I had with the dark and the gloom.

At the height (or low point?) or winter, the sun sets about four in the afternoon.  When I was working in West Seattle from 8am to 5pm for two weeks in December, I never saw the sun.I never saw what little bit of daylight we had because let's be honest, there wasn't any sun.  The same was true during my contract the first three weeks of October.  We actually had some lovely weather then and I didn't see any of it, minus ten minutes through a window. It's dark when I get up, it's dark when I drive to work, it's dark when I drive home, it's dark when I go to bed.

This is what people mean when they say Seattle takes some getting used to.  That it's a city with lots of people with Seasonal Affective Disorder*. I actually noted the Winter Solstice this year and there was much rejoicing amongst the clinic staff where I was as we all both celebrated the fact that the days would now officially be getting longer, and commiserated that they would get longer very, very slowly.

The first week of January there were a couple of days that were bitterly, painfully cold.  I know because I was out in them.  Why you might wonder? Because it was sunny.  There were three or four days that were about thirty degrees but the skies were a brilliant, shiny, sunny, wonderful . . . they were blue.  A captivating, hope-inspiring blue. I'll give up ten degrees to see the sun.

I went out for an hour walk. I went snow shoeing three times, I laid with my dog in the sunny spot on the carpet. Alright, bring on 2013.  I'm recharged and ready. Here you thought I was kidding when I said I was solar powered!

* Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a kind of depression that occurs at a certain time of the year, usually in the winter. SAD may begin during the teen years or in adulthood. Like other forms of depression, it occurs more often in women than in men. People who live in places with long winter nights are at greater risk for SAD. A less common form of the disorder involves depression during the summer months.

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