Snow capping the forested, dark green mountains veined with Aspen gold delights the eye, but the rain and wind on the Valley floor remind me that winter is coming, and I am not ready!
The Sangre de Cristo Mountains got their first snow about a week ago, and the snowfall was a good month too early for me. The Valley floor is sodden and the wind brisk.
Cold weather plus bad news is just too much. Which bad news? The mass shooting in Las Vegas or… there is a lot to choose from… the list is too long. And yet, I am so far removed from the reality of the news. Shopping in the local grocery the other day, I found myself complaining about the shorter days and the longer nights. And as my whine wound down, I felt the heat of embarrassment.
How dare I complain about the weather when the world-at-large is such a mess!! Why am I/why are we so removed? Unless we are personally suffering from a natural or unnatural disaster… we (buffered by our computers and handheld devices) sit all comfy on our couches some distance from the pain. And the pain that we experience sitting on the couch is easily fixed by just adding a cushion or two.
We live cocooned lives swathed in eiderdown with a hot cup of tea or coffee at-hand. At most we sigh. Or rant. Or block out disturbing news by binging on three or four episodes of a favorite TV series. A ‘restorative’ glass of wine helps dull the pain. Chocolate does also. I’m also into ‘food porn.’ My favorite site is https://www.nytimes.com/newsletters/cooking. Sam Sifton, the NYTimes food editor, writes a chatty introduction and follows up with recipes. Reading the recipes is almost as satisfying as eating the food he writes about. Almost.
Sam (I know him pretty well at this point so I feel I can refer to him by his first name) sends out a newsletter two or three times a week, and his commentary never fails to lift my spirits. Quoting the first paragraph of today’s newsletter, Sam writes:
Good morning. Go look at the birds today, if you can. They might be over by the highway, getting into formation for the long run to warmer air. They might be out on the harbor, picking off the surface as bass and bluefish crash beneath them, fueling up for their own migration south. The geese are beginning to move on the ponds, as are the ducks, the mute swans with their grunts and hisses. For all the terrible news this morning, for all the heartbreak and terror this is still, as Robert McClosky put it, a time of wonder, a time of change. The temperature may be summery where you hang your hat, but the birds know the score.
I’m feeling better. Maybe I’m not as depressed as I first thought. I go to Roget’s Thesaurus… a forty-year-old, well-thumbed, paperback. I haven’t written in weeks. Why is that? Maybe ‘depressed’ isn’t the best word choice. I look up ‘sad.’ A dozen synonyms are at-hand: sorrowful, downcast, dejected, unhappy, woeful, woebegone, depressed, disconsolate, melancholy, gloomy, cheerless, somber, dismal, heavy-hearted, and blue.
The choices run the gamut from dark to lighter. I’m not unhappy or heavy-hearted; I guess I’m melancholy or blue. Have you noticed that naming your condition, putting it under a microscope, looking at the issue in depth makes everything better? I’m feeling better already.
This month’s assignment from the Salida based Shavano Poets is to write a poem that riffs off a compound word. I’m quite excited: the word ‘downcast’ may be a possibility… or what about ‘woebegone’? I like woebegone a lot. After not writing for over a month, I just may run with woebegone and see where it takes me.
Immersion in the written word is my medicine. Reading (I’m re-reading E.M. Forster’s WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD) or Sam Sifton’s introduction, or… putting words to paper myself is the wind beneath my wings.
I don’t want to live in a bubble, but I need to step out of the muck and rise above it if I am going to be productive and pro-active.