"It may be that when we no longer know which way to go that we have come to our real journey...
And we pray, not for new earth or heaven, but to be quiet in heart, and in eye clear. What we need is here." ~ Wendell Berry

February 1, 2012

Doldrums

Watching Walton Goggins helps my doldrums!  As the complex white supremacist felon-turned-
preacher-turned-backwoods-Robin Hood-Harlin County-pot lord, "Boyd Crowder," Coggins has shaped
as fascinating a character as they come, in FX's Emmy-winning Justified (now in its third season).
The other day I was helping one of our sons in his homework review, as I often do as the "designated homework go-to person" (which now, despite eighteen years of formal education–not including two years of preschool–I find is quite limiting in certain subjects, especially math, science and parts of world geography).

The word "doldrums" came up, not as a vocabulary word but as a geographical term. It is defined as follows: "an equatorial region of the Atlantic Ocean with calms, sudden storms, and light unpredictable winds." [Mmm, sounds more like perimenopause to me!]

I have only known it in terms of emotional weather: the blahs, blues, feeling down or mildly depressed. The Oxford American Dictionary is more specific: depression, melancholy, gloom, gloominess, downheartedness, dejection, despondency, low spirits, despair; inertia, apathy, listlessness, blahs, blue funk, blues. It further describes the origin of the word as a "dull, sluggish person" (late 18th cent.): "perhaps from dull, on the pattern of tantrums."

A dull, sluggish person having a dull tantrum: YES!

A Minton tile by William Wise from his lovely "Country Pursuits" series.
I've been collecting these for about ten years but don't have this one yet.
It's not all bad, really, but the weather has been something else this "winter." Everyone I know who lives on farmland here in Kentucky (or further yonder on farms and other places in Facebook land) would very much like a real winter. Because this has been a perpetual fall: a long, rainy mud season, often dreary (and always muddy). That means access to feed cattle or check on newborn calves in pastures can be troublesome at worst and messy at best. The one nice thing is that my Speckled Sussex chicks that I got in October are doing well and their water never freezes–and we've been able to use our outdoor water, too. My nine, almost three-year old, hens even started laying again on the Winter Solstice and have been providing us with about three eggs each day.

If I felt like it, I could probably start getting our garden beds ready. But I don't feel like it! I want WINTER, dash it, and a nice excuse to be inside doing indoor things and some writing projects without guilt. We had a three-day cold stretch a few weeks ago, when the temperature stayed well below 30 degrees for three days and nights. It was the best I've felt (no cough!) since late November, when it was also warm and wet. I'm blaming mold: everything here has been moldering for months. The leaves in the forest, the grass in the fields, the creek beds. I think even our house is starting to grow stuff on it.

Spring in Kentucky is lovely, long and prolonged, and perhaps my favorite season here. But if the daffodils are already blooming in some people's yards (and they are!), to what do we have to look forward in a few more months? What will this mean for berries and fruit trees or the entire spring flora? Will we have redbud blooming in another few weeks? Strawberries in mid-April? I realize that our growing season is influenced as much by the pull of the sun, as it climbs higher in the sky, as we are (my moods, certainly). So who knows what we can expect in the next few months?

Yes, I could be outside walking, on the roads, at least, as long as our fields are so muddy. I could be doing fall-cleanup. But so many of our days have been rainy and drizzly or just not consistently warm enough to be outside without lots of layers. It's teasing and fickle, hard to plan around. If there's one thing I've learned is that I just want to enjoy the season in its season and that I welcome each of them for what they are. And I like winter for nestling in and working on things that often compete with summer months when we are outside much more (or need to be).

Back in New England they are having a warm winter, too, and it's bad for the ski industry and the snow plowers who rely upon the white stuff to generate the green stuff. But what else can you expect when you have two feet of snow on Halloween?

Call it Global Warming or what you will: I'm just calling it annoying. "Call me Ishmael," as I know that I have "November in my soul." I just don't want a winter, or spring, of Novembers.

Shall we just call this little weather gaffe "Sprinter" or "Wing"? The birds are even coming back early, too, and some, perhaps, have never left.

You come back when you're ready!

Catherine

1 comment:

  1. Two comments:

    1) Don't bother trying to learn world geography these days. The borders change too rapidly. I used to know all the world capitals when I was Eli and Henry's age. These days those capitals are in countries with different names. Some cities don't even have the same names. Mumbai, my ass. I still call it Bombay. Macedonia has come back into existence -- where did it go?

    2) My two little peach trees are beginning to show buds. They get frozen, even though they are supposed to be special cold-tolerant varieties, and I'll never have peaches.

    Love this quote: "I like these cold, gray winter days. Days like these let you savor a bad mood." ~Bill Watterson

    ReplyDelete

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