Seasonal Attitude Disorder
March 8th, 2010

It’s usually sometime in January when we start hearing stories in the news about Seasonal Affective Disorder.  (Apparently January 18th was the most depressing day of the year for 2010.)  We read articles about light therapy.  And we collectively grumble about the long stretch of winter in front of us.

I am of a different ilk.  Call me crazy, but I like the dormancy of January.  I’m not sad that the holidays are behind me.  Certainly there’s a happy anticipation that they bring about.  But untold amounts of work come along for the ride.  January, conversely, is a low maintenance month.  I don’t love the bitter cold or cabin fever.  But I do love seeing white space on my calendar and hot chocolate in my hand.  It’s not all bad.

It’s February, on the other hand, that makes me cranky.  It swoops in with its 28 days, acting harmless and innocent.  It teases us with the preposterous idea that spring might show up early if an oversized rodent doesn’t run into a hole.  Then it tries to woo us with roses and chocolates.  But there’s always one thing I want in February that it will never have to offer me:

Sandals.

I’ll even extend the list to include sundresses, sunglasses, baseball, daffodils, blooming Bradford Pear trees, outdoor café tables, and the smell of freshly cut grass.  I’d take any of them.  But February always leaves me hanging.  One grey day after another I check weather.com with hope and anticipation, only to find disappointment and a dismal forecast.

For me, February requires a major attitude adjustment. 

So imagine my delight last week when we got to close the book on February.  Truthfully, Monday didn’t act that much differently from Sunday.  Still grey.  Still cold.  Still filled with more darkness than daylight.  But something felt different.  Maybe it was because during my visit to my parents’ house over the weekend (where spring arrives about three weeks earlier than it does here) bulbs are already popping up.  Maybe it’s because I’m starting to hear buzz about March Madness and I can envision myself winning the office pool (which actually happened once).  Maybe it’s because I have a new challenge in front of me, distracting me from the last few days of winter.  Maybe it’s because 40 degrees, while still chilly, feels positively balmy after weeks of highs in the teens and twenties.  Or maybe it’s because I know that by the time this month ends the lion will have gone and the lamb will be here.

It’s probably a combination of those things.    

But for all of my complaining about February (the shortest never-ending month), I need it.  Without February, March – and better yet April – wouldn’t be so glorious.  Spring, and the renaissance it brings, is brilliant on its own.  But its greatest triumph is that it delivers us from the doldrums that preceded it.  It is this contrast – not just flowers and sunshine – that moves me.

I’ve heard many many people sing the praises of living in places like San Diego and Miami.  They brag about wearing shorts and flip flops in January.  They have green grass and waving palm trees year round.  They don’t have to suffer through the dead of winter or the dog days of summer that the Midwest so lovingly doles out.  But such climates don’t come without a cost:  They don’t have seasons.

The first day of spring; the first time your ankles go bare; the first daffodil you see; the first day you wear short sleeves; the first time you pull out your grill; the first day that you turn off your furnace; the first day the season really arrives can never feel truly, overwhelmingly perfect if it’s no different than the day that came before it.  It is change that I need, as much as anything else.  The same is true of sweaters and cider and turning leaves in the fall.  Only after summer has lingered into September and long overstayed its welcome can I be wholly invigorated by the first chilly morning that makes me reach for a fleece. 

Yes.  It’s change that I need.

We are barely a full week into March, and yet I’m feeling better.  I feel lighter and happier.  I feel excited and optimistic.  I feel eager and capable.  I’ll go ahead and say it… I have a spring in my step!

10 Responses to “Seasonal Attitude Disorder”

  1. becca Says:

    I’m with you in that I really love the quiet of January after the craziness of December. But I also love February because of the anticipation of snow and my passion for skiing. I try to enjoy every ounce of winter because it’s a season that is surprisingly glorious to me. And as you say, it helps me appreciate the warmer days and the scents of spring that much more. Dusk moves later and later. I can taste the barbeque’s and feel the breeze in my hair when my sunroof can finally be open. It’s around the corner, I can feel it! But until those temps really ARE in the 60′s… I’ll milk winter for all it’s got!

  2. Celeste Says:

    I have always been thankful to live in places with seasons. I agree that it is the change, the reminder that it won’t always be this way, that encourages me to more fully enjoy Spring days, the hot beach in Summer, brisk walks in Fall, cozy fires in Winter. We all know how difficult it is to be present, to appreciate what we have.

    We have had a long, cold winter this year. Much longer and colder than I have ever experienced here. I am ecstatic to say that we will be in the mid-60s today!

  3. Anne Says:

    I also love the change of seasons…I just get so darned impatient when the transition takes awhile. I also believe you need winter to appreciate summer, and this climate out in the northwest is an extreme example of that. It’s rainy and grey for a LONG winter, and then in the summer it barely rains at all. I’m not a fan of the “either-or”, but it does make the season transitions all the sweeter.

  4. Jeanna Says:

    It’s so nice to learn that I’m not alone in my love for changing seasons! After living in South Florida for 4 years my family thought I was crazy for actually wanting to move. I don’t have a favorite season, I love them all!

  5. Eva Says:

    Yes! The grill! We are eagerly watching the snow melt, watching the temps climb, tempting fate by wondering aloud if we can bring the grill out from storage next weekend. Soon, soon, my precious, we will be delightfully cooking burgers and brats together.

    Our bikes are the other thing we crave once spring starts to tease us with warmer days. We usually take them out at least once or twice in March (one year even in February) for a slightly miserable, cold ride around the lakes. Hopefully by April we’ll be taking regular rides. Fingers crossed!

  6. Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities Says:

    I am with you. I relish the contrast. The cold giving way to warm. The dark giving way to light. The ups and downs. The smiles and the frowns. I am not a steady girl. I like the swings. And I love spring! Bring it on!

  7. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    February blows. And March sucks pretty hard, too. But you are right–without them, we wouldn’t appreciate April so much.

  8. Amber Says:

    Yes, I too love January. The holiday pressure is far too much for my little heart.

    I often complain about winter to my husband. It is a season that seems purposeless to me. Yet, as you mentioned, it has a purpose. It helps me feel grateful for spring, whenever that is.

    As for sandals? I wear sandals in all weather–inclement or perfect. Yep, rain or snow you will find me in my flip flops. I really don’t know what that says about me.

  9. Nicki Says:

    I don’t know that there is a month I dislike. I love winter but also love spring, summer and fall. I want my seasons where I am, not up on the mountain.

    I can’t wait for the days to start earlier. I was just looking out the kitchen window today at 5:50 and thinking next week it will be light by now. :)

  10. soccermom Says:

    It’s not that I don’t enjoy the change of the seasons. It’s just the Gloom sets in after we have had 40 tons of snow and frigid temps too many days in a row. I have to have the sun shine. I am sooooooo happy that it is finally warming up and I can get outside. I have a health condition and the colder the temps the worse I feel.