Thursday, 13 January 2011

Slouching towards 2011

For the past two weeks, my daughter has been working on a sculpture inspired by Winter.
She started with dead tree branches, and a sketchbook full of assocations, and ended up with something rather spidery and menacing.  Here, it looks rather like a large and upright praying mantis.

I'm not phobic about creepy, crawly things, but I do have an uncomfortable relationship with January.
This year it seems to be particularly bad, although -- as one of my friends tactfully told me -- "you are never very good in January.

We had an excessively sociable December, and maybe part of what I'm experiencing is a natural burn-out.
Winter is the time for renewal, as we all know, but I do hate the diminishment of my natural energies and enthusiasm.  I've had no energy for resolutions this year; and no desire for anything other than sleeping, reading and -- while the fleeting pleasure lasted -- watching episodes of Downton Abbey.  It's not that I'm lying prone on the sofa, and in fact I've had some hurry-scurry days, but still I feel like I'm just going through the motions . . . waiting, somehow, for things to begin.

It doesn't help that dusk seems to come at 3 pm, and the sky is a mass of smothering weeping cloud.  I do love England, my adopted country, but my native Texan self does suffer at this time of year.

Still, getting to the point of being able to write about it, is probably a sign that I'm beginning to emerge from the worst of my annual winter funk.  Here is a poem, which I dedicate to my fellow SAD sufferers, by the wonderful Linda Pastan.


Is is seasonal affective disorder
I suffer from?  This special lamp
I bought doesn't help at all,
but I do light up whenever
the sun itself appears.  you say
the blossoms are most themselves
on a cloudy day, as if contrast
is what flowers are about.
But I feel as swollen with useless tears
as the clouds must be with rain,
projecting their shadows
over fields that are simply waiting
to blaze back to green.

The world is always going to pieces,
and we're all growing rapidly
towards our deaths, even the children.
But just one hit of sun,
one almost lethal shot
of pure, yellow light
(like the hand of some saint
I don't even believe in
touching my face)
and I'll forget the whole broken world,
forget the impermanence of beauty.
I'll simply catch on fire from
a single spoke of sun.

With a single exception, everyone in my family has a January birthday.  When I am in a wintery mood, (see the beginning of the second stanza), that seems like an exceptionally grim thing.  Please forgive me; I'm having a morbid moment.  The forecast is nothing but rain, rain, rain, but hopefully I will be myself again soon.

January:  I can't wait to see the back of you.


steven said...

bee it's a tough stretch to be sure and the light issue is even affecting me. i live with a person who becomes jelly-legged as soon as the first snowflakes fall and then becomes very very grumpy and wonders why she isn;t living in somewhere perpetually warm and then .... well it just gets truly miserable!!! not so good when i'm my usual tiggerish self!!! hang in there bee. we're gaining a minute or two of light everyday and soon it'll be birds singing and bees buzzing and grass waving and g and t's on the back porch! steven

elizabeth said...

I must say, the sculpture is a little unnerving.
Well done, Camille.
I try to enjoy the austerity of no cards ( except lovely birthday ones!) cluttering up the place and no leaves on the trees and everything waiting and waiting.
I'm so sorry you have SAD --a condition I can totally understand. So enervating and scaring and vile.
Well captured in Pastan's well-chosen poem
I think I reserve my month to get cross with for March which is 'enough-already' with the winter. In fact I really don't think I like spring much at all.

Bagman and Butler said...

What a talented daughter! What a beautiful piece! She should be proud.

Tess Kincaid said...

Your daughter's piece is wonderful! (I do believe it is the Texan in you that struggles with this time of year)

kristina said...

I've suffered quite badly from SAD ever since I moved to England. And Pastan is right: the lamp isn't the same thing at all...Thank goodness January is nearly halfway through!

K x

Jenny Schouten Short said...

Dear Bee,
I'm from Texas and live in the Netherlands, five years now. I share your malady. I'm wondering why I thought I could live in Holland with a Dutch husband and am considering moving back to Texas. What was I thinking? The weather here is the pits. Now I know why my ancestors left Great Britain 400 years ago on little tiny ships to brave a new world! Thank goodness I am flying to Texas next week and can get some sun. xo

Dragonfly said...

I'm trying to brighten things up with flowers, flowers and more flowers but I still seem to be struggling to get going in this brand new year.

Nimble said...

"Winter is the time for renewal" I take exception with this. Winter is the time for endurance. And January is almost half over! May your birthday glut be over soon. That poem is a stunner. We've had bitter cold this week but clear sunny skies. And it is good to see that ball of fire.

Teresa O said...

I'm sorry to hear that SAD afflicts you. I can try to understand what it is you and one of my best friends go through this time of year, but as a winter lover I can only imagine. I hope January passes quickly for you and you find the light you long for.

I find your daughter's winter sculpture beautiful and fascinating, like the outline of naked branches against the sky.

Poshyarns said...

It is rather dreadful, I do think January has nothing at all to recommend it and February excuses itself only by way of being a couple of days shorter. I have found this year a little easier than some gone past and I am wondering if it is because I have been outdoors a lot more and running a little? I still find dusk comes all too soon though.

I do love your daughter's sculpture though, so stark and well, very Januaryish.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I fight these same feelings in January. Something about the sudden starkness after all the baroque colour of December. Over the last few years, however, I've tried to anticipate, and hopefully, evade the problem by treating myself with kindness. I fill the house with white flowers, I plan trips, get manicures, take hot baths, read only the wittiest books, and have lots of fires in the fireplace. My method is currently being put to the test, however, as we are totally snowed in at the moment. This is the fourth day!! Feel Better!!

Marcheline said...

I am so with you, Bee... but for me, January is just the long, slow slide into February, which is my least favorite month of the year.

It was always my least favorite month, and then a couple of years ago my dad died on Valentine's Day, and that pretty much clinched it. His birthday was the 15th of January, his death the 14th of February, and so I honestly am just hanging on by my fingernails for March, or anything that even remotely resembles it.

Cottage Garden said...

January IS a difficult month to get through. The excitement and colour of December is a distant memory and spring still seems far away. I do try to make the best of it and enjoy being cosy at home, I wrap up warm for a daily walk, daydream and make lots of plans for spring and summer. But it is the greyness that gets to me. However as Steven says, we are gaining a minute or two of light each day!

A powerful and uncompromising poem. I love the last line. Hold that thought.

Nearly forgot, your daughter's sculpture is great!


slommler said...

This time of year is tough!! I too suffer with SAD!! But today the sun is blazing and I love it. I feel happy! Whew! Bout time!
And your daughters sculpture is powerful. It does say winter for sure!!
Love it!

Tracy Golightly-Garcia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracy Golightly-Garcia said...

Hello Bee

Your daughter's sculpture is lovely and what a talent she has. I do hope you will feel better soon, Bee.

We got about 7 to 8 inches of snow here in Greenville. I am ready for everything to get back to normal! I look forward to Spring and Summer.

Take-Care my friend

Tracy :)

Sarah Laurence said...

Ah, Bee, this is truly a miserable time of year for you, but take heart. You are nearly halfway through it. The best way to battle SAD is getting exercise in the daylight outside. I wish I could walk with you.

I appreciated this line: "It doesn't help that dusk seems to come at 3 pm, and the sky is a mass of smothering weeping cloud."

I LOVE your daughter's sculpture. It's more organic and free than creepy in my eyes.

We saw the first episode of Downton Abbey and are hooked. We're going to order the rest from Netflix because it's on too late for a school night. Henry thought the American was a Brit doing a lousy American accent, but I told him she was just like me (and you!) an American married to a Brit with a genuine mid-Atlantic accent. Anyway, a series written for us.

Hausfrau said...

Ah, this reminds me that I've missed "Downton Abbey" yet again. And SAD afflicts me, too--not tremendously, but still...

Penny Ormsbee said...

As a Holistic Nutritional Consultant with a busy practice here in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I can tell you that from my experience - SAD is directly related to a vitamin D deficiency. In my neck of the woods I see many people who experience extremely low moods once the winter comes. I recommend 3,000IUs of vitamin D daily from September to April and for severe cases, 5,000IUs a day. It won't take long before you start feeling better. Of course Vitamin D has many other benefits too. All the best. Penny

Plantaliscious said...

That's a fabulous sculpture. So sorry you are hobbled by SAD. Very debilitating. Reminds me a little of PMS, moods all over the place and seemingly beyond my control, but at least that only lasts a day. I hope you get some sun soon, this continual grey gets everyone down, but with SAD I know it is even worse.

Amanda said...

how very different a gathering gloom at 3 p.m. must be from that wide-open texas sky.......

your daughter's sculpture is eerily lovely - and it does shout winter. wishing you sunnier days very soon, both literally and figuratively~

Dick said...

Sympathy for the SAD - I suffer too, although by now I pretty much take it for granted that spirits will dip when the shadow times are upon us. That's a great poem: it expresses so graphically the yearning for hot bright light.

Winter blues notwithstanding, I wish you and yours the very best of times for 2011.

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

Wonderful job by your daughter. I have a thing for dead tree branches as well...they have so much life!! These look like winter, like January.
Texas is very cold but the light is lasting until about 5:40pm now, which helps the mood. I've been spending alot of time in my robe with two pairs of socks on. Can't wait for spring, either. Take care, Bee.

Lisa said...

It's been an especially dreary, cold January here. I'll be so glad to have it done.

I did receive a piece of cheer (thank you).

I must say your daughter's sculpture is fascinating. It's Gorey-ish, like something from a Tim Burton movie. I like it.

May the next couple of weeks zoom by.

herhimnbryn said...

Ah, Bee Lady. Take heart, the winter will pass and Spring is just around the corner.

homegrown countrygirl said...

Oh, Bee, this too, shall pass. Ironically, I just today posted on my own little blog about "the saddest day of the year" (which some people say is today).

julochka said...

oh beth, i hope it's better now. i do know a bit how you feel, but have consoled myself indoors with bright fabrics and the bubbling excitement of a new venture, but that grey outdoors and day after cloudy day have a way of doing my head in. rain came along and took away all of our pretty white snow, so it's a sea of mud and grey out there. i'm with you on wanting to see the back of january, if only for the weather.

the sculpture is a bit beetlejuice somehow, i hope she had to take it to school and it's not there, hanging over the dining table, because that might not help.


Relyn said...

Did I already tell you how great and art project I think this is?? Your daughter is amazing! You must be such a proud mama.