What Helps Get You Through?

anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)October 26, 2005

Here in Quebec, we just had our first major snowfall of the season which pretty much zapped what was left in my garden. The leaves that were gold are drab, and the hydrangeas so pink just yesterday are now brown. I always cling to these last few days of greenery - I bring in pots that still bear a few blooms - enough to keep me cheered for the next month, or maybe a week or two. I know that all of us who have discovered winter sowing feel blessed and even saved from those dreary grey winter days - just having our hands on seeds and soil seem to keep us connected to our passion.

But - some days just seem to be difficult - maybe it's the lack of light, especially sunlight - getting up for work in the dark and coming home in the dark. And whatever problems one has seem to become more magnified, or appear more oppressive at this time of year (which has just barely begun). Sometimes it is simply a vague feeling of sadness, or an unexplained melancholy.

So my question is this: if this happens to you as well, what things help you through these times? It may be something small - just a thought to be remembered when one is blue; or it might be a special activity, a hobby, a ritual, or ??? Sometimes we ourselves may forget what these things are. So maybe if we note them here, we may remember, and who knows, we may also help others.


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not_a_contessa(z5b S Central PA mtns.)

Hi Anna, for me it starts with collecting seeds, and planning what I want to grow next year. I will have a new bed, I talked DH into taking out the overgrown yews next to the porch. This space gets sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon.

I actually will get out the graft paper and draw out the different gardens. When I started to think about actually planning my gardens on paper first, I realized I have 10 different areas to grow in. Winter Sowing will have me so busy, the days will pass very quickly and by spring I won't remember we even had a winter.

It's time to divide my daylilies, so some of them will need new homes. And I am definitely taking the Monarda out of my front garden, it wants to own the world! I have some in my stump garden, and that's enough for the hummers to enjoy.

So, besides all the planning, I like to cook things that need the oven, it helps to warm up the place. I also start to cook more soups, hot oatmeal, and hearty Italian dishes that have greens and beans in them.

The other tool I use is, "this too shall pass". It helps to believe that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. These have definitely worked for me in the past during the tough times.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 1:22PM
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I do the graph paper thing to, except I use it to plan my vegetable garden. I also like looking at all of the catalogs I get.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 10:05PM
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I like the catalogs too. Especially the Victoria Secret catalog ... until my wife whacks me upside my head until I recycle it.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2005 at 7:47PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Anna, move to Georgia and it isn't such a problem, lol! Winter isn't very harsh here (I'm transplanted from Toronto).
I am very lucky. Our local librarian is new, and he got to know people in the community by what they read. I told him about the fantastic gardeners in the neighbourhood, and he stocked us well with excellent brand new gardening books!!! AND he bought the A-Z from the American Plant Society (it's about 5" thick!!). So I'll be snuggly in the new library, reading on the sunwarmed window seats part of this winter.

Winter here is a great time to do hardscape, so I'm going to rip up the backyard, which really was a yard and not a garden. Hopefully by spring it will be well on it's way to garden...

During the year I only skim through gardening magazines. I keep them in an underbed box and then pull them out in the winter. Seed catalogs too!!!


    Bookmark   November 3, 2005 at 5:53PM
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clarysage1717(s.central pa z6)

Since I can't change winter, I try to change my attitude toward it and embrace it. I bought some warm boots and insulated long underwear and no longer have to give up my walks because it's cold - only when it's too icy. And just as I spend winter months looking for special seeds and planning my gardens, I spend the summer and fall collecting knitting projects, recipes to try, and books to read on cold winter nights. Instead of sending Christmas cards, I write one actual letter a week in winter to friends from college or distant relatives. Sometimes I get one back, and it helps.

I also hate the morning commute to work in the dark, but I give myself silly little rewards to help get through it - that Friday morning chocolate cappuchino at the gas station only costs 89 cents but it seems like a big deal every Friday morning. I have been known to drive the rest of the way to work telling myself there's only 'ten more Friday cappuchinos until spring'. Dopey, maybe. But it helps.

I follow the moon cycles and keep a chart telling me how much longer each day is. I look at it every morning when I'm brushing my teeth and remind myself that it will eventually be light again. Reminding myself that it's a natural process helps.

I've also found that with less garden work I have more time in the evenings to do volunteer work. It's helped a lot with my attitude about things in general. I don't mean to simplify the problem or make light of seasonal depression in the least, because it's a genuine problem, but to some extent your opinion about winter can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Try to find a way to spin your definition of what winter means to you, and it might help.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2005 at 9:27PM
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rainfaerie(SF Bay Area 9)

Hi, Anna, I used to suffer a little from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I was not experiencing full-blown depression; when you said, "Sometimes it is simply a vague feeling of sadness, or an unexplained melancholy", you really hit the nail on the head. I also experienced uncharacteristic lack of energy and a bit of overeating. I was skeptical when I first heard of it, it sounded improbable because I live in California. But when I read up about it, it made a lot of sense.

Small changes have made a significant difference for me, just two things that I do differently every winter:
1) I stop using sunglasses, and
2) I use a full-spectrum light bulb in my desk lamp (I spend a lot of time at my desk).
The rest of the year, I wear sunglasses and use a normal incandescent bulb. I have got to admit, it makes a world of difference in the way I feel during winter.

There's a lot of information on the Internet, so it might be worthwhile for you to investigate. Good luck to you!

Here is a link that might be useful: The Seasonal Affective Disorder Association

    Bookmark   November 18, 2005 at 1:37PM
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"Especially the Victoria Secret catalog ..."

I'm with you. I also like the One Hanes Place catalog.

Anna, I'm still getting used to moving from zone 5 (snowbelt) to zone 7 seaside, so I don't have nearly as much winter as you do, but I swear I hate it just as much as I did in zone 5. Fortunately, I can work outside most days, and I have plenty to do indoors on bad days.

I do the graph paper thing, only on the PC. I bought a piece of software called SmartDraw, the Floorplans and Landscapes edition. I'm using it to design beds, garden sections, the whole yard. This winter, I'll start doing the floorplans for the house and boathouse.

It isn't one of those whizz-bang 3-D packages like you see on the gardening shows, but it's an excellent 1-D item, that lets you draw to absolute scale, in multiple layers (landscape/trees/plants) and illustrate with thousands of symbols and designs.

Here's a recent snap of my yard:

I can lose myself for hours in this software.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2005 at 2:16PM
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Ohh yes winter is 13 months too long!

I second the idea of getting the winter clothes on... and walking around the garden a bit. I took some cool winter frost pics last week. I also mess with my horses, walk in the woods with the dog, watch the artisian spring flow to the frozen creek. I'm in the process of setting upa potting shed in a farm outbuilding with some free furniture from freecycle.org

Inside- Well I try and limit my TV as it is sooo passive and I am happier active. A co- worker tapes me a couple garden cable shows I don't have. I make it a point to catch P Allen smith's show too. We rent Net flix- but just for the winter months--

I joined a ladies Bible Study and decided to teach a sunday school class for kids.

I also joined a ladies garden group. It's more about snacks than flowers but once in a while i learn something!

I see they are teaching a couple 2 hour (total) night classes at the local college on garden related topics. I'm pondering those...

Gardening is mostly via computer and seed catalogs. My librarian has given me the password so I can request gardening books from half the state. ( It pays to volunteer to put in a flower garden at the library!)
I also keep a garden journal and a garden photo book to brouse what happened in ea garden each month.

It's a nice time to pack and trade up all those seeds that I've collected and dried for something else to try.

That leads to planning where to put it. That's a cool software program on the previous post!

I make long lists of everything I plant to move around in the garden to improve it the following spring. The garden pics come in handy here for height, shape, and spacing reference.

I start going thru new seeds and locating them on the seed site, thomson morgan and some other sources and sort them into 4 containers- wintersow, spring sow, window sill/under lights sow, and trade away.

It's also a good time to get those photos downloaded into webshots and share them here.

Well enough about me. How are you doing? Grab a hot tea and...if you or anyone else reading this wants...email me back at my addy and tell me what you're up to now:) Misery loves company!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 6:30AM
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garden_witch(z6a MI)

I used to hate winter. Although I was born and raised in MI, I was technically "made" in OK =) Mom and Dad were stationed at Ft. Sill before I was born, I think I was suposed to be a southwest type person =) Incicdentally, I was married (the first time) at Ft. Sill, lol! My ex went through basic and AIT there =)
Anyway, WS helps imensely! I now look forward to winter. Also, I made a decision to look for the positive side of winter, and try to find the beauty in it. Go for a drive after a fresh snowfall (after the plows go through, of course!) Look at the fresh snow clinging to the trees, cozy little houses nestled in the snow with smoke drifting from their chimneys, kids building snowforts and engaging in snowball wars =)
I also started colecting some tropicals and tender perenials that will do well as houseplants. Having something green in the house makes a big difference =)


    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 7:16PM
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