Ah, Seasonal Affective Disorder.
City Time (the time zone calculator on my Palm, which also gives sunrise and sunset times) tells me we got only 10 hours and 22 minutes of daylight today. Sadly, the daylight we did get was pretty dim, dulled down by clouds and drizzle.
I can really feel the lack of light. Keeping going on a day like this is like trying to swim in an undertow. The darkness drags at me, pulling me under, unless I fight to keep my head up. And the depression is insidious, discouraging me from treating it. It would be so much easier just to let go, stop struggling against it, and give in.
This is one of the phases I go through every winter; I am used to it. My mood will track the weather until the time change, when I tend to go through a deep low and have trouble getting up in the morning. Then things will get better for a while thanks to the thrill of the holiday season (helped this year by the extensive travel we’ll be doing in November), then at about New Year’s, I’ll sink again. Usually, it’s just the post-holiday blues, but I suspect going back to work will contribute to a lower low yet. Then it’ll be onto the long upslope as the days get lighter, each one better than the last, until spring comes and I can put my light box away.
What I need to remember, what I always try to remember, is that this is temporary. It’s one of those glass half full/half empty things…is summer just an intermission between winters, or is summer the rule and winter the exception? The best thing I’ve done for my SAD this year has been to reform my thinking, to try to see summer as the default state. Winter is a falling away from that ideal, a hiccup in the essential lightness of life.
No doubt I’ll reread this in January and think it hopelessly naive.
On the food front, I have been making a lot of soups lately. They’re for the whole family, B included. He doesn’t get salty food yet, so I can’t just throw a stock cube or two in and build the flavor from there. Instead, I’ve been making my own salt-free chicken stock, then adding vegetables and pearl barley to turn it into a soup. Oddly, I can’t taste the chicken in it until I add salt; then the flavor comes zinging out.
B has eaten both the soups I’ve made with gusto. We use a little hand-held electric blender to whizz his food into mush, since his gums are probably not up to bits of chicken and pearl barley.
Cooking for the baby is a powerful thing, by the way. M and I have both felt it over the last couple of months. Every step, from browsing for another flavor to try him on (harlequin squash? pumpkin?), to cooking it up, to mushing it and spooning it into his toothless little mouth, is deeply satisfying. It’s even more fulfilling than breastfeeding, probably because the preparation process is conscious and deliberate.
We don’t just cook for immediate consumption, either. We tend to make enough of whatever the new food is to freeze 10 or 15 ice cubes’ worth of mush, plus a meal’s worth to eat fresh. Subsequent meals are easy: pop 4 or 5 cubes in the microwave, heat, thicken with baby rice if needed, and serve. I make a game of it with B, letting him chew on the Tupperware lid while I discuss the flavors he’ll be getting.
He has yet to taste commercial baby food (a point of pride). This will change when we start travelling next month.