Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Stormy Weather

I was not prepared for what this spring has brought in terms of weather. Last year we were spoiled by essentially having no winter. This year is the winter that will not leave. Compounding the unseasonably cold temperatures and blustery winds is the fact that we are still getting precious little precipitation here in Colorado Springs. While the drought continues, it is the impact on my psyche that has been hardest to deal with.

You would think that I, having spent the first twenty-seven years of my life in Portland, Oregon, where seeing the sun is a near miraculous event, that I would be hardened to overcast, dreary days. Apparently not. Indeed, I have most recently spent a decade in climates of “extreme sun” counting Tucson, Arizona and here on the Front Range in Colorado. I think I have been trying to make up for those 27 years of drizzle.

It occurred to me while riding the bus on a particularly ugly day in Cincinnati what I find intolerable about “gray” days: The sky has no contour. You look up and it is like you are under a great silver dome. It feels like you are still indoors. This, to me, is the overriding feature that must be at the root of SAD (“Seasonal Affective Disorder”).

At least here in Colorado you can’t usually say the clouds themselves are depressing. Eerie, yes, and sometimes menacing, but not depressing. This is the only place I’ve been where the clouds remind me of being in a coffee mug and God is stirring cream into it. Short of a tornado, this is the closest one can come to the feeling that the sky really is falling.

Lately, however, the days have been far too reminiscent of Oregon. The worst is when the mountains disappear. The foothills and Pikes Peak are near constants in the landscape here, and when you cannot see them it becomes both disorienting and claustrophobic. The world literally seems to be closing in around you.

Lastly, the duration of cold, and periodic light snow, has taken its toll on me mentally. I guess you would call it “cabin fever,” but whatever the name it robs your mood of the highs that normally come at this time of year with blooming flowers, singing birds, the hum of bees. I find myself disturbingly unmotivated, disinterested, and even angry when I have no reason to be.

Weather cannot alone be blamed for our own personal miseries (excepting tornados, hurricanes, and floods I suppose), but no longer will I readily dismiss anyone who says that rainy days and gray skies get them down. We all have a hard time with things we cannot control. Rising above the austerity of climate at this time of year is challenging to be sure.