Friday, November 16, 2012

Gray November Blues

I was in my twenties when I first realized that I hated the month of November.

It makes sense, really. I live in Minnesota. By November, days are short, skies are cement gray, and temps are cold. I came to picture a typical November day as bleak and blustery, a sharp wind slapping my face and driving ice crystals right into my skin.

It always felt personal, as though some weather god took pleasure in inflicting pain. "Slap! Feel that sting? Now I'm going to make your eyes water, pinch your fingers, blow away your scarf, toss your hair, and penetrate through all seven layers you put on this morning!" Understanding cold fronts and high-pressure systems provided no comfort whatsoever.

Throughout my work life, transportation complicated the picture. The evil weather gods could make the buses run late, stall my car, create glare ice and ridiculous pileups, or encase a parked car in ice and snow that had to be chipped away while your fingers and toes froze. Again, hearing the familiar sound of ice scrapers all through the neighborhood was no solace.

I have come to realize that while November can still be difficult, most of its days don't live up (down?) to my worst expectations. Besides, I now have ways to cope that I didn't always have.

* I am retired. If I want to stay home during an especially nasty weather event, I usually can. 

* By now I have assembled an excellent collection of warm boots, coats, mittens, fleece layers, ear muffs, scarves, etc. When I do go out, I go prepared.

* I no longer have to look professional or even presentable after battling the elements. Nobody at preschool or the grocery store cares whether my mascara is frozen into mud puddles at the corners of my eyes, or whether I'm wearing fashionable shoes.

* I've been taking Zoloft for years to help offset Seasonal Affect Disorder, a result of sunlight deprivation. Around mid-October I still begin to notice that my mood is dragging, but it's manageable. And I can take naps if necessary because have I mentioned? I'm retired.

* Remember when I said that not every November day is dreary and awful? It's true. And the best way to combat the November blues is to get out into those decent days, to see a little sunlight, breathe a bit of fresh air.

* Even when I can't be outside, I can remember to notice the sun shining, take a deep breath, and appreciate the cheery sight of it.

November brings nasty days, and it's the opening shot of a long winter to come. I'm trying to remember that I don't have to cope with all of that today.

Oh, and P.S.: The grandkids bring sunshine into even the darkest day.

Double P.S.: I just noticed that this is my 300th post!


Unknown said...

I can sure relate to this post. Looks like you and I do similar things to get through. Having the Internet and so many online friends has been a huge help to me.

joeh said...

Happy 300!

Yes being retired does take the sting out of lots of stuff that used to sting.

Plus November has THANKSGIVING!!

Teresa Evangeline said...

It does make all the difference for me to know I don't have to drive in it or present myself to the world. I still don't like steel grey skies, but it's more tolerable than it once was. :)

stephen Hayes said...

Congratulations on that 300th post. Quite n achievement. November is my birthday month so as a kid I always loved it, and Thanksgiving, and I haven't gotten tired of the rain and falling leaves yet. Now January--there's a dark month.

Red said...

You've hit on a topic that is important for many people. It's great that you have learned to cope with the situation and not let it beat you.

Grandmother Mary said...

November was similar when i lived in the northeast. How I handled a particularly bleak stretch for me was to take the theme of thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) and keep a notebook of five specific things I was grateful for that day. I kept that going for a long time before my mood changed but eventually it did and I had built a habit attitude of gratitude. Sounds like you have as well. Oh, and retirement helps by giving us so many more good choices!

Jeanie said...

It sounds like you have found some good ways to cope with the gloom, and I know those kids bring sunshine into your days. It can be gloomy here in November, but we also get a lot of sunshine most of the time. I don't like it at all when we go several days without sun.
Congrats on 300 posts.

Ms Sparrow said...

Lovely post. It makes me feel better that I'm in very good company when it comes to November weather. The barren trees and dingy, colorless landscape can take the joy out of getting out of the house even though it's necessary to combat "cabin fever". Thank goodness for the holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas to help us through to the end of the year!

DJan said...

I get out in the weather, whatever it's doing, and then I feel happy. But then again, I don't suffer from SAD and have to remember that many people do. Oh, and congratulations on 300 posts! I've enjoyed every one of them. :-)

Rubye Jack said...

My bouts with SAD seem to be lessening each year and I think it may have much to do with lower expectations of the holiday season. Plus, I also don't have to worry about presenting myself to anyone. That's a very big thing.

Linda Myers said...

I lie in bed before I get up, and I'm thinking, "Is this all there is? I'm getting old. I weigh too much. I may be a widow someday and then who will cook? I may actually turn out to be a Bag Lady."

Then I get up. I take a GABA supplement and 4000 mgs a day of vitamin D. And a light box, when I think about it, for half an hour in the morning.

In six weeks the days will start to get longer. And in seven weeks we leave for Arizona.

Minnesota and Washington have about the same amount of dark and miserable, I think.

Pauline Persing said...

Good ideas. I'll keep them in mind. November in southwestern Ohio isn't as dreary as Minnesota's although we have some of those days you talk about. January and February are the difficult months for me...cold, snow, sleet, slush,..any kind of winter weather during those months. I look forward to seeing the Skunk Cabbage breaking through the ground toward the end of January or early in February.

Sally Wessely said...

Thankfully, I don't live where there isn't a lot of sunshine during the late fall and winter days. I know I would never handle it well. I don't do cold and snow combinations if I don't have to do so.

I'm so glad you are retired and can take all these weather days better in stride.

laurie said...

November and March: two worst months.

we have been lucky, though, that this november has been balmy and sunny. we can pretend it's october.

Daughter Number Three said...

I'm out visiting Daughter Number Three-Point-One in Washington state for the week, and I have to say, it's making me appreciate Minnesota's November. 45 degrees, strong wind, constant rain (sometimes strongish, sometimes mistish). Blah! Give me a crisp dry cold any day, even without sun.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Happy 300!
November is always very dreary..I call them brown days..everything is different shade of brown. Today was great..we had sunshine and 43 degrees and I sat outside in the sun..something I like to do everyday that the sun helps.
I have proper clothing too..and try to plan days out when the weather is cooperative:)

troutbirder said...

Congratulations on the 300! I agree about the November blues though I must say this one in Minnesota hasn't been as bad as usual. We've taken a lot of hikes in our local deserted State Parks...:)

injaynesworld said...

Congrats on making it to 300, Nancy, and this is one of my favorites. You've created wonderful images to tell your story. I understand exactly how the November weather makes you feel now, even though I live in California and experience November quite differently, my friend. Really lovely writing.

Jeanie said...

First of all, congratulations on 300 posts! And I'm with you 100 percent on November and look forward to when I don't have to be out in it so much. All our trees now look like spider webs and the photos I posted only a week ago (granted, I took them in October) seem a distant memory. Ah, November...


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