Sunday, October 27, 2013

Midwestern Seasonal Grieving

If you're fairly new around the blog, you might be under the impression that as a Midwesterner writing about sustainability topics, I must be in sync with the seasons.  That somehow I find as much magic in a cold, clear night with temps in the teens and snow on the ground as I do in the warmest days of July with the garden just beginning to produce.

You'd be wrong.

No, like many Midwesterners, I go through a process of grieving about this time every year, as the days grow shorter and the garden dies off and I'm left with outside clean-up chores done on nippy days.  So, for the benefit of those who don't live around here, let me explain to you the process of Midwestern Seasonal Grieving.

Stage One:  Denial
"No, it isn't going to get cold yet.  Look, it's the end of September and I'm still wearing flip-flops!  I still have tomatoes on the vine," we protest.  We bravely joke about global warming in line at the bank and grocery store:  "Hey, maybe climate change is really a Thing!  Maybe this is all the colder it's going to get," we claim. We keep hoping that, if the globe really is warming, it might bring the first favorable weather shift that the Midwest has seen in millennia.

I mean, look at the photo if you don't believe in Midwestern seasonal denial.  Even my apple tree is trying to pretend it's spring -- and I took that picture on October 27.

Stage Two:  Anger
"OMG!  It is actually snowing out there!  WTF?" we all post on Facebook.  Everyone starts trotting out stories of how miserable they are every year during winter.  Tales of local drivers who have driven here all their lives yet still can't manage to slow down during a sleet storm are exchanged.  Friends who dare to mention or post things about liking snow or enjoying the change of seasons are resoundingly put in their places, along with the snow they so richly deserve.

Stage Three:  Depression
Depression, indeed, and it might actually be seasonal depression, which is a real condition that your doctor will give you happy pills to combat.  However, if you're a Midwesterner born and bred, you probably get a certain amount of relief from making everyone around you miserable while you shiver, shake, and sink further into despondency, the light of your mood growing dimmer as the days shorten.

Stage Four:  Bargaining
"I'm fine with the cold just as long as it doesn't snow," we say.  And then, when Mother Nature laughs, we offer up Christmas, New Years, weekends, or any other day that we don't have to shovel a driveway or get on an icy highway.  Periodically, we celebrate a rare 51 degree day by going outside wearing a fleece shirt but no jacket and declaring that the chores we got done through chattering teeth and numbing fingers count as "gardening."

Stage Five:  Acceptance
The first seeds that we've planted inside under the grow lights sprout, and we content ourselves with the idea that we are starting the summer garden.  We ignore the mounting snow outside, the short tempers in the grocery store, and the puddles that stand under our boots in the entry way.  We settle in to wait for the day that we will first take those little seedlings outside to harden off, and life will be worth living again.
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  1. Never read your blog before. I just loved your writing on this article!

  2. This is a perfect description of 'winter grieving'! Now off to read more...