The sun is starting to rise again in the tiny Greenland town of Ittoqqortoormiit. The translation of the village’s name must be something like “place where the sun don’t shine”—at least for two months in the dead of winter. That’s sad.
Literally. S.A.D.—Seasonal Affective Disorder. The winter blues is an official malady, and several sources indicate that it is a feeling of sluggishness and depression during winter when days are shorter and people don’t get enough natural light.
One town in Norway made a valiant effort to provide winter sunlight. Their valley is in shadow during part of winter, so they placed a giant mirror on the mountainside and sent reflected sunlight to the town square. Sort of a natural tanning parlor in the middle of town if you don’t mind baring skin at below freezing temps.
Even Fido Gets the Blues
Some claim S.A.D. is just folk psychology, but others say it not only affects humans, but pets too. Apparently dogs can experience the winter blues. Maybe their "bow wow" turns to a "meh meh," and they are tempted to chill out with the cat in the windowsill rather than chase rabbits. One company even sells the Sol Box, a light lamp for Fido.
It would have been a cold day in Hades before we would have bought a special mood light for our dogs when I was a kid growing up on the farm. And anyway, I don’t think a dog like Smoky—our childhood favorite—ever had S.A.D.
Smoky was with us in the dark before school, wagging his tail as we fed corn to the cattle or broke ice in the hog waterer. He might join us when we milked our one cow—steam coming from the warm bucket, cats in the corner nervously watching Smoky and hoping we’d squirt them in the face so they could lick off the milk.
Smoky usually walked us up a quarter-mile lane—snow piled high on both sides—as we left for school. He once hopped on the yellow school bus with us but jumped back off when he had a good look at the motley crew we rode with every day. He no doubt chased field mice on his way back to the barn as he spent the day chillin’ out and waiting for us.
If Smoky had the winter blues, he hid it well. He’d run with us as we rode sleds down the lane or when we explored the frozen pasture creek. He played football with us in a snow-covered yard, or he jumped into the back of the pickup truck with us when Dad had us haul hay bales.
Smoky knew how to handle pet S.A.D. Stay active; chill out but don’t freeze; and keep a positive attitude. We could tell he was happy by the way he’d jump around, bark amicably, and hang his drooling tongue out.
I’ve had a bit more trouble handling Midwest winters as I’ve grown older, so I try to keep the Smoky method in mind. I stay as active and positive as I can, but I haven’t mastered the barking and tongue wagging yet. I still have a form of S.A.D.—Spring Anticipatory Delirium.
by dan gogerty (top pic from theguardian.com; bottom pic from flickrhivemind.net)