I grew up in Massachusetts, where many people seem to observe autumn with near-spiritual devotion. Which is understandable, because fall in New England is beautiful. As a child, I loved the colors, the dusty smell of October air, the sense of receding all around.
But, though I still savor the crunch of leaves and in-season apples, fall no longer invigorates me. Instead, it makes me feel tired, gray, and grumpy. Every fall, Summer Me⎯eager and vibrant⎯turns into the human version of Eeyore.
Well, Eeyore with a temper.
The other morning Matt wandered into the kitchen, yawned, and stood there for a moment, watching as I ransacked the cupboards and cursed about how I couldn’t find my preferred mug.
“Uh-oh,” he said, over the clang of dishes.
“What?” I snapped.
Then I caught myself, took a deep breath, and faced him. “Sorry,” I said. “I’ve turned, haven’t I?”
He nodded slowly. “You’ve turned.”
Call it the winter blahs, seasonal affective disorder, or hibernation mode. Whatever it is, for the next few months, I’ll be fantasizing about southern Florida, and Matt will be calling me “CP” (short for Cranky Pants).
I constantly seek out warmth, especially in fall and winter. A few Januaries ago, I wore a below-freezing mummy-style sleeping bag around the house. I zipped up in it while watching television, working at the computer, and eating dinner. I heightened the insulation effect by pulling on fresh-from-the-dryer fleece pants immediately before mummifying. On a few very cold nights I even brought the bag into bed (much to Matt’s chagrin). I was perpetually sweaty but, after two weeks, I realized I’d gained seven pounds. (You can’t exercise in a sleeping bag.) Knowing I was at risk of spending all my waking (and sleeping) hours inside that bag until April, I quit it cold turkey.
I had to laugh when comedian Denis Leary (also from central Mass) poked fun of SAD sufferers on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. “Sorry, that’s called winter, okay?” Leary said. “We all go through it. It’s why we invented ice hockey and skiing.”
Indeed, I used to follow NHL hockey with fervor, and I’ve been a skier since age five. I used to relish cold temperatures, and never understood why grownups grumbled about them. I couldn’t imagine anything more magical than snowstorms — all that white quiet to play in, all that steaming hot chocolate, stirred with candy canes.
But as I get older, winter holds so little appeal that even the season before it, despite its beauty, inspires in me a bit of melancholy. Can anyone out there relate?