Looks like it might be a long, cold winter for many, with the family finances making a tropical getaway improbable (or more improbable than usual). A bunch of us gardeners on the Plurk network have been talking about darker days and subsequent light deprivation; even our Texan mentioned it. In Western New York, this is a common thing. Many people I know start to get depressed as the weather cools. This year, with not too much to be cheered by on the international news front, it might be even harder than it usually is to dismiss the thought that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, and life just sucks in general.
Personally, I deal with indoor light deprivation all year around; we live in a tall, narrow house, with tall, narrow windows, closely flanked by two similar structures. So it could be that I don’t notice the difference when winter comes. Nonetheless, it can get dull and gray sometimes, starting in late November and continuing through much of March. I have two strategies for dealing with it, as follows:
Drinking really works for me. Once I’m home from my office (which has nice big windows), often my husband and I will switch on the gas fireplace and sit for a while with cocktails in hand. We get out as much as we can too, to art openings, parties, or just dinner—with wine. Like many women, I also have my group of friends who meet over drinks regularly—and we do not even use the excuse of a book club (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It could just be that I’m a naturally happy person, but I’ve been able to fight off SAD without much of a problem.
Of course, not everyone can drink, or wants to drink. I accept that. Then may I suggest my other strategy? Yes, you knew this was coming: gardening. Indoor gardening need have nothing to do with houseplants, if they truly disgust you (I run into a lot of that on this blog). It can be forcing bulbs, which occupies me starting two weeks from now well into March, what with fancy paperwhites, hippeastrum, hyacinths, and tulips. There’s also seed-starting; the season for that around here is February through May. Oh there are all kinds of wacky growing projects you can get into, and I say go for it.
But for those of us who do love keeping plants going inside on a regular basis, what we all truly dream of is a greenhouse, connected to the house, preferably something like we’ve seen in a Jane Austen movie or on some Masterpiece Theatre production or other. Big enough to have fruit trees in it. Right now, all I have is a “plant room” and I am struggling with the technical aspects of lighting it properly. It’s OK. But it’s that dream of the greenhouse that really keep me going during the dark days—maybe even more than martinis and Chateauneuf du Pape. Actually, I’d even settle for the attached sunroom shown at top.
What’s your secret?