They say that January in Manitoba is the month with the highest number of suicides and newly documented cases of depression. I can certainly understand why. With stark, skeletal of trees dotting the snow-suffocated landscape for what seems like an eternity, its easy for the brain to lapse into what is medically known as “seasonal affective disorder” or s.a.d. How appropriate.
It has been snowing since the end of November with the temperature outside slowing decreasing with each passing day. With it ranging from 2F/-17C which is actually relatively warm for this time of year, to around -31F/-35C outside, I keep telling myself that as long as you are dressed properly, you can be just as comfortable outside in this weather as you can be on a warm, summer’s day. Which is technically true but the soul doesn’t seem to understand that. Not a single leaf or flower petal in sight. Although there is much Earthly beauty to be found at this time of year, it sort of squelches one’s enthusiasm when there is a risk to life and limb just to go outside to see it!
I make a conscious effort in my life to be as self aware as I can be yet I too have fallen victim to this phenomenon. The odd thing about this disorder is that it seems to creep up on you, as if from behind. First, you find yourself tossing and turning a bit more at night, then the motivation to continue your winter to-do list begins to dwindle, until one day you’re folding laundry and you suddenly feel an overwhelming urge to chuck the whole basket out the window into the frozen abyss!
I honestly don’t know how life-long Manitobans do it. To survive this draining of the spirit year after year and yet be as resilient as ever. What’s their secret? I’m certainly not used to it, having grown up in Southern California and then moving to the true north just recently. Don’t get me wrong, I have truly found the happiness and contentment that I had always dreamed of here and the people and landscapes are simply amazing. But geez-louise! These winters are really something else.
All I know is that Mother Nature’s gotta do what Mother Nature’s gotta do. Who am I to expect her to do anything else?
So what do I do? I write. I write it all down. Every frustration, every annoyance, every sadness. I get it all out. Onto paper and out of my head so I don’t have to carry it around with me.
Then I break out all my gardening catalogs and magazines and expose my brain to images of beautiful gardens in full bloom soaking up brilliant sunshine and I open my garden design software and begin to plan.