Winter, Clocks, and SAD

Perhaps I spoke too soon last week, lambasting the time change and so cranky about it. Not a day passed before I heard on the news that several members of Congress were floating the idea of making Daylight Saving Time permanent. For all of us, the whole country.

Hmmmmm, okay, maybe I can work with that.

Some of the persuasion for such a move centers on the current virus crisis and the mental health issues from all the uncertainty, loneliness and isolation. One editorial in September, written by Orrin Hatch, makes an impassioned plea for Congress to act and act swiftly. He tells us with the switching of our clocks to Standard Time, we will experience even shorter days than normal and this and the virus will only exacerbate the impact on mood, the stresses and upset of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Permit me to remind him that the hours of daylight are the same, regardless of what the clock says. A better argument is this. With Daylight Saving Time we are UP AND STIRRING a bit more in daylight. We are awake during more daylight hours. We don’t magically get more daylight.

Despite his lapse in logic, I am compelled and so let me revise my views. Standard Time. Daylight Saving Time. I don’t care. Just pick one. Make it permanent.

I don’t discount the impact of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Not at all. I suffer from it myself, a little. It creeps up on me just after the holidays. The grayness of a Kentucky winter, especially if we have no snow to cheer me, can grind on me in such a way I begin to believe balancing an open package of Oreos on my stomach while watching TV is a core strengthening exercise.

I mope. I molder.

Just yesterday a friend was talking about her dread of the approaching dark days. A real girl of summer, she confessed she even cried over the weekend in a kind of anticipatory grief for the waning sun of summer and the bright autumn days. She had found an article on how to weather SAD, yet so much of it was meant for a pre-COVID world, the suggestions of gathering with friends, or planning a vacation somewhere bright and warm for the worst part of winter. A good plan, of course, if we could even get there to that sunny isle, if we had the money, if the location we picked had low reproduction rates.

And if we could be with people.

There is, however, some evidence that Americans are back in the sporting goods stores, this time searching out winter sports equipment, like we snapped up all the bicycles last spring. In the northern climes snowmobiles and cross-country skis are flying off the shelves and out the doors. Hats and gloves and big puffy jackets are in high demand. Good footwear, too, poles for a little Nordic walking.

I have a couple of those poles around here. If some of you would get some, too, and start using them in what broad daylight we have this winter, I might get mine out and use them, as well. I just can’t bring myself to trend-set this activity. And this is a shame, because I first heard about Nordic walking when I was in Poland a couple of years back. And if the young women who told me about it are any indication, we will all be fit and blonde and beautiful if we would just give it a go.

I confess I like the longer nights, the early darkness when it comes. I like sweaters and blankies and cold-weather food, chilis and stews and potatoes. But I also need light—a candle or two when the coffee table is clear of combustibles, night lights, some small lamp burning in every room.

I’ve been thinking about those little white Christmas tree lights, or fairy lights, which is what I call them when they are draped across mantles or strung across a chest and puddling on the floor. When my European friends entertain, they have them all over the house, woven in and around the kitchen canisters, strings of them here and there, the lighting low everywhere else. It is cheerful and bright and dark all at the same time. I’m thinking of getting some, just to see how a thousand little lights might brighten my mood in this odd winter on its way.

One thought on “Winter, Clocks, and SAD”

  1. I love this! I’m going to get those little lights, too. Whenever I see them, I think of them as “happy lights”!

    Fingers crossed that we will soon live without the springing and falling!

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