I relocate to the balcony but only for a few minutes; the pool of sunshine is colder than it looks. We’re on the jittery downswing after a summer of record-breaking heat, and I’m startled as I am each and every year by how abruptly clinging sweat is replaced by clinging sweaters. The high is in the mid ‘50s today—beach weather in Scotland, if I recall—but my Texas-born toes cower inside my slippers nonetheless. I just need time to acclimate. Come March, I’ll be toasting to 55° sunshine with flip-flops and a margarita cappuccino (just being honest here).

The thing is, “time to acclimate” is a diplomatic phrase, all polish and tact, meant to disguise the fact that long months of gray lie between now and the day when 55° will prompt celebration. A hundred days of wet woolen skies shade the upcoming calendar, and I might actually look forward to them—their rapport with chocolate chai and scarves, the color lamplight makes against their too-early evenings, and the cocoon they form around creative impulses—if not for this solar-paneled heart of mine.

Sunlight is the low-voltage hum through my veins, most noticeable when it’s gone. It’s maddening to have my motivation wired to a celestial dimmer switch, to view approaching clouds as enemy armadas, to pine for the tropical breezes and sparkling white Christmases I’ve never met in person. Besides, I hardly have grounds to complain, here, in the golden cup of the Mediterranean. But still, the gray of winter often passes through my corneas straight into my thoughts, and I know acclimating to the upcoming months will not be as simple as putting on extra layers.

I’m writing this now, on the cusp of cold, as a preemptive measure, a hopeful immunization against the dreariness of years past. Whether it will work or not remains to be seen, but at least I can store up an extra pool of sunshine today.


What do you look forward to about winter? And how do you stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder?

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  1. Sweet Bethany,
    How I LOVE to read every word you write! I have wanted to comment many other times but for one reason or another I fail to do so. I remember you well from our days at LeTourneau although I never had enough boldness to take the simple step of friendship…how foolish. Anyway, just a quick note to say I love your writing and I too have a spirit that is ‘wired to a celestial dimmer switch’. I will be thinking of you as these long days of gray stretch out ahead and will rejoice with you when that 55 degree day brings celebration.

  2. Hello Bethany. I just discovered your blog and I am enjoying reading it. My husband who is Sicilian-Canadian (born in Ottawa) and I just bought a house in a tiny town in Sicily. Until we retire we will spend our summers there but six years from now we will be Sicily bound! I sure can relate when you say “the gray of winter often passes through my corneas straight into my thoughts”. When it is too gray and rainy here, I just close my eyes and think about summer in Sicily – and I pop another vitamin D pill.

  3. This may sound a little bit crazy, but: My sister is a nutritive therapist and homeopathic guru person and she tells everyone who has seasonal affective disorder to take high-quility, cold-pressed cod liver oil for the loads of vitamin D (among other health benefiting components) it delivers when the sun isn’t shining. I think she would say that the seasonal “down” time has most to do with nutrients . . . But, I also know that everyone is different and this may not be as simple as taking cod liver oil – just thought I’d pass on the info anyway. 🙂

    LOVE you!

  4. Tiffany – It’s so great to hear from you! I wish we could have gotten to know each other better at LU too. I remember your sweet little babies and am not sure I’m prepared to know how old they are now. 🙂

    Diane – Thanks so much for your comment! We haven’t made it down to Sicily yet, but I’m sure you’re counting the days until you can be there year-round. We ended up on the beach in Florida for Christmas last year, and it did worlds of good for my sunshine-dependent heart.

    Erika – I don’t think I’ve ever made a concerted effort before to up my Vitamin D intake — I might want to get on that! Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness.

  5. I know that the gray is something that I dread too. I have noticed it more the older I get. Basking in a bar of sunshine brings happiness to me, just like it brings happiness to my dog. I don’t really think I have SAD, but boy when the sun shines after days (or weeks!) without it, I feel a weight lift off my shoulders. I guess I try and go with the season…hot chocolate…a heavy afghan…a fire in the fireplace…a good book. I mostly work, however, ah…time to read a book? When will that be? I guess indulging in fantasy should be on that list as well.

  6. Megsie – All of those things at once–the hot chocolate, the heavy afghan, the fire, and the good book? Would be HEAVEN. Now I’m dreaming of a blogger retreat that would involve no speakers, no course, and no blogging whatsoever… just doing that. 🙂

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