Winters in the Pacific Northwest are famously dreary and grey. It’s not the inconsistent, drizzly rain that gets to me, but the weeks without sun, the sky that feels like its grazing the top of my head. By the time February rolls around, I’m usually ready to crawl out of my skin. The light boxes and vitamin D supplements and temporary trips to tropical locales do little to assuage my craving for sun. Some people shrug their shoulders and say, “It doesn’t bother me, I like the rain.” And to those people, I say, Bravo.
I’m a sun baby. I spent my childhood in California, accumulating a speckle of odd-shaped freckles that grace my shoulders to this day. During my university years in Virginia, I regularly drove to the tiny beach ten minutes from my school and spread my books in the sand, content as a sun-splashed clam. The smell of sunscreen makes me weak in the knees. Sun flare, slurpees, the sound of ocean lapping the shore, sand spilling out of my shoes: these things make me indescribably happy.
Grey clouds, not so much.
Every winter, I dive in optimistically. The rain is so soothing! I’ll get lots of writing done! It will be over before I know it! My skin will look great when I’m 50!
But by February, my good intentions wear thin and I’m popping four extra vitamin D gummies. I buckle down, I focus. I try not to count the number of consecutive days without sun. I hightail it outside when that little temptress pops her head from behind the clouds to bask in the five minutes of weak sunlight.
Some people call this seasonal affective disorder. I call it the normal human reaction to perpetual darkness.
But then March rolls around, and April. Suddenly the sun is out for two days, then three. And finally a whole week of glorious sunshine falls on Vancouver.
I feel like the cherry blossoms I see all around me: at first quivering back to life and then bursting, fully formed and vibrant, from the bud.
Vancouver, once sleepy and withdrawn, roars back to life. The seawall, barren and drizzly in winter, suddenly swarms with activity: children totter atop tiny tricycles, teenagers flash by on roller blades, terriers and poodles and fat, happy bulldogs pull at their leashes in greeting. Crossfitters sweat and bikers ring their bells. And, if you’re in the right place at the right time, you may catch a trio of old-fashioned penny farthings as they roll on by.
My grumpiness wanes as sun-baby Rian reemerges. I know it may not last (June is historically rainy in Vancouver). But this happy reprieve from grey days is enough. I look at the smiling faces around me, upturned to the sun, and wonder if we aren’t all a bit better for it–those months of darkness. After all, here we are, basking, relishing, utterly grateful for the light.
How does winter weather affect your mood? Are you (northern hemisphere dwellers) feeling more energized and motivated now that spring has arrived?