Early Spring?

My Scots Broom is blooming giving me hope…and activating my allergies.  I’ll take the allergies.  Spring is right around the corner…a blind corner.  Approach with caution! I don’t know what might be waiting for me on the other side, what cruel trick might be played by Mother Nature.  I don’t care, I have a wonderful and sunny seventy-degree day waiting for me in my little piece of heaven. 

Crocus and daffodils are waking from their winter nap, pushing toward the sun and the red tail hawks that circle above.  Two mating pairs climb in the thermals, whistling to each other in a language only they understand.  Are they as happy as I am to feel the warm sun? 

These are sure signs of spring as are the gold and purple finches putting on their spring colors.  Nests are being built awaiting tiny eggs that will help continue the species. Their yearly mating ritual has begun. Mother Nature renewing herself despite all of our efforts to destroy her.

It has been a hard winter…in a lifetime of hard winters, I guess.  I planned to do much.  Unless I am mistaken, I have accomplished nothing except staying clear of Covid and getting my vaccinations.  Isolation has not helped my melancholia.  When I did have a flush of adrenaline my sciatica grabbed, flushing my rush down the toilet, adding more fuel to my winter depression.

I am reminding myself of my Grandmother.  My Nannie would disappear into the depths of depression as the days shortened, robbing her of available sunlight and keeping her from the outdoors she loved.  The short, cold winter days left her peering out of her window at the world.  She described her malaise as “feeling a bit blue.”

Her rock garden lay darkened and wilted, as dark as I’m sure her thoughts were, and had her thumbing through her seed catalogues and the almanac.  I no longer wonder about her effort to be functional.  I wonder why I even get out of bed somedays. Functionality is sometimes evasive. I plod on doing nothing.

Not today, or even yesterday…or the day before.  Three days in a row in late February to die for as I write this.  Deep blue, cloudless skies.  After crisp mornings, sunny days and seventy degrees.  I went forth and was productive.   

It is gray this morning, with impending rain forecast for the next few days. The price you pay for three days of celebration. The price is much like the hangover you might expect from too many shots of Jack Daniels as your merrymaking runs off the rails. I was able to walk despite my metaphorical hangover and late arriving rain. As I looked into the gray sky a red tail flew by and lit in a nearby tree making me smile.

I have made a small dent in my yard work, but every trek begins with a step…or with the swing of a machete.  It has left me with hope to battle my depressing hangover. Hope that I might bloom with the spring flowers.

A roadside that I wish was mine. https://www.diynetwork.com/

My bride likened my grandmother to the spring flowers.  Late in her life we wondered if she would survive the winter and then like the daffodils or crocus, she would burst from her depression as they burst from the ground.  I hope I am like my grandmother although I wonder what flower I might be.  I’m sure the flower that is me has thorns and few blooms.

Here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge we have bipolar seasons.  Short fall seasons, some years summer jumping straight into winter.  On the other side of the equinox, our brief springs are dotted with spring flowers, sometimes pushing out of March sleet and two-inch snowstorms.   Many days we have all four seasons rolled into a twenty-four-hour period.  Polar wear in the morning, flip flops and tank tops in the afternoon.

Crocus | LoveToKnow

The breezes of April will quickly roar into the simmering heat and humidity, thunderstorms and tornadoes, yellow jackets, and clouds of mosquitoes.  Something to gripe about other than the cold winds of winter.  I’ll take the heat because with it comes those long days of sunshine. No more seed catalogues, actual seeds going into the ground. Sunflowers reaching for the sun.

So, I’ll cherish these three perfect days of early spring.  There are more crystal blue skies coming…sandwiched between the gray, cool, wet skies of the fading winter and the anvil topped thunderheads to come.  Such is life, I guess.  I will long for the perfect days of an early spring and celebrate when they arrive.

Featured image from https://www.thelocal.de/20190222/early-spring-to-continue-in-germany-over-weekend/

Don Miller’s authors page https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR2JKFOIkUMkr7DDTIGejQCNCoz-GdyUSmvDXYWfNYk8mV4O3sVbxPB8JFY

Flatter Than a Toad Frog…

 

…on a four-lane highway.

It’s mid-November and I’m cold…freezing in my fleece sweats.  I feel the cold deep in my bones and today was quite mild.  The cold days are long, but the nights are even longer.  The darkness fogs my brain and waterlogs my soul….even in the brightest sunlight.

It’s months before the days begin to lengthen…well, a month before the Winter Solstice.  I can’t be wishing my life away; I don’t have enough life left.  This is the winter before my seventieth year.  What is it?  Four scores and seven…and we are certainly not guaranteed that.

Mid-November and I’m flatter than a toad frog on a four-lane.  December, January, and February could be a test of my waning resolve.  My cornbread already ain’t done in the middle and maybe a gooey mess before I feel the winds of March.

There is absolutely no reason for me to be flat…well, I’ve been seeing Christmas decorations in stores since mid-August it seems.  It’s Halloween, then Thanksgiving and then Christmas.  I’m waiting on April Fool’s Day.  For some reason holidays are tough.

It’s five forty-three in the evening.  We have a small mountain range to our west. The sun disappeared a half-hour ago.  It is five-fifty now and darker than the inside of a cow.  I think I know why people went to bed and rose with the chickens…boredom.  I also know why old-timey farm families were huge.

I try to stay busy during the in-between time when it is too dark to do anything constructive and too early to go to bed.  I fill the time as best I can.  Obviously, I write badly, I read, I watch TV, I play online Scrabble, I click on Facebook…sometimes I do all at the same time, slowly flipping from one to the other and then back again.  Sometimes I catch myself simply staring off into space.  Everything in a dim, soft focus, wondering how long I’ve sat with my mind in neutral.

It’s part of my affliction.  I can’t seem to stay focused on any one thing.  I’m fragmented. If I didn’t know I was clinically depressed I’d swear I was suffering from ADD on steroids.  Anxiety?  I’m driving my wife to distraction.  When I’m not bouncing from thought to thought I have a desire to sleep but even my dreams are fragmented.  At night, when I do sleep, dreams are wild and in 3D.  Luckily that is all I remember.

“Are you listening to me?” she asked.  “I told you that five minutes ago.”  “How many times are you going to ask me that?”  “You sure are sleeping a lot.”  “I’m beginning to worry about you.”  Like you don’t have worries of your own.  I have no answers to her questions or her observations.

Clinical depression with a good dose of SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I just searched Amazon for a Happy Light…I do spend too much time in the dark.  I should have been a vampire…or a mushroom.

What I hate most?  The depression strips you of the desire to be productive but not the guilt of failing productivity.  Like a vampire, it saps your energy upon rising from bed.  It is a thief stealing my joy and happiness.

The very idea of going for my morning walk triggers an argument with the voices screaming in my head.  Faceless voices screaming “Gooooo!  It will do you good!”  Other’s yelling, “Stayyyyy!  Keep your rear end in that recliner!”  That might be a wee embellishment or I’m actually crazier than even I thought.

Like many, I am high functioning.  I hide my sadness and anxiety from those around me.  I am the subject of Smokey Robinson’s opening lyrics from “Tracks of My Tears”, “People say I’m the life of the party ‘cause I tell a joke or two.  Although I might be laughing loud and hard, deep inside I’m blue.”  It is easier to share this with people I don’t know on a blog than to confess to those closest to me.

Time drags, sleep is fitful and dream-filled.  it is the next morning, exactly twelve hours since I began this pity party, and it is even darker than it was last night.  It seems an unexpected rain shower decided to make its way north and camp over my head.  I must have been playing Scrabble during last night’s weather report.

Over an hour before the official sunrise…add another fifteen minutes for Old Sol to climb above the ridge and its trees to the east.  I guess I will add gloomy to the darkness.  Hopefully, the front will get out soon enough to trigger my morning voices spatting over to walk or not to walk.  That is always the question.

The good news?  I haven’t given in yet.  The bad?  I so want to.  My resolve is eroding.  I want to take to my bed and suck on my thumb.  Instead, I will put on my shoes and begin the day putting one foot in front of the other.  I’ll put on my rain gear and be confident no one will see the “tracks of my tears.” I will battle with myself.  I will climb the hills and try to use music to drown out my voices.  Hopefully, the walk back will be easier, hopefully, the malaise will pass…as it does.

Don Miller’s author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The image was from https://werunandride.com/2017/07/11/frogs-on-the-highway/ July 11, 2017

 

 

Ode to February

 

Not really an ode…I’m not a poet…some would say I’m not even a writer…but that may just be my depression kicking in…or not.

Too many days of long dark nights, cold and crisp, with the stars twinkling brightly…clear as a bell…seeming so close you might touch them.  Too many days with the sun low in the Southern sky…if it can be seen at all due to the gray days full of winter rains.

I’ll take short summer nights, hot and humid, with the stars obscured by the mosquitos in the air…a thunderstorm rumbling in the distance.  That was almost poetic.

February gives me hope…I know it is cold and crisp this morning and a polar vortex has the mid-west in its deadly, skeletal grip…but there is hope…here in the foothill of the Blue Ridge.  Long range I see afternoon temperatures in the upper sixties.  A chance of the low seventies?  “Hope along Sweet February hope along.”

If previous winters teach us anything, there will be plenty of cold crisp days in February but there will be many “Chamber of Commerce” days too.  Days to live for…sandwiched around days of “I wish I were dead”.  Just enough bright and warm days to keep me alive until late spring.

Soon the cyclist will come out of their winter cocoons, dressed in the newest, natty attire, mimicking colorful butterflies…sorry butterflies, I know you would not dress like you were on an LSD trip on purpose.  Golfers will don their own form of garish fashion and head to the links in hopes of breaking one hundred.  Lines of bass boats in gaudy metal flake will make the trek toward Lakes Keowee, Jocassee or Hartwell, searching for trophy bass.

All will converge on Highway 11, joining pulpwood trucks and farm tractors, creating a slow parade in front of my house.  A parade I will watch from the comfort of my garden.  Maybe I will put on a flowery Hawaiian shirt in gaudy honor of the colors I see slowly passing my home.

My garden has laid fallow since the first frost…way back in late October.  February will give me hope.  Tilling and amending, the smell of cow poop in the air.  Dirty fingernails from digging in the dirt, with sweat pouring down my nose.  The aching knees and muscles of time well spent.  Hopefully, the effort will lead to sweet and tart Cherokee Purple tomatoes dressed in Duke’s Mayonnaise, salt, and pepper, served between two pieces of Sunbeam Bread.  An ear of corn on the cob, or five, on the side…if I can beat the raccoons to it this year.

February makes me hopeful…hopeful that I will flower like the early spring jonquils and crocus.  There will be plenty of “Oh, damn you cold” days in February…and then there are the winds of March on days seemingly left over from January.  But…there is hope and where there is hope, there IS life.

The image is from Deb’s Garden, http://debsgarden.squarespace.com/journal/2016/2/28/early-spring-conquering-weeds.html

Books and further musings from Don Miller can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM