Canadians love to talk about and complain about the weather. We live through some of the most dramatic seasonal weather changes on the planet. We have lived in five Canadian provinces so we have experienced our share of variety and weather drama. We have now lived in BC’s lower mainland for almost 17 years. While the rest of the country has to endure the cold and misery of snow and cold for up to six months, we usually get about a week of it. So I really should not complain that we have had snow on the ground for a record four consecutive weeks—with at least one more forecasted—and the temperature has dipped below zero for two of those weeks! I know, this would be a mild winter in every other province and on the east coast they are in the midst of a serious blizzard right now but they are used to it; here, this kind of weather is cause for some serious Seasonal Affective Disorder [SAD]. In this light, or lack of it, I bring back part of a post from a few years ago.
For the first time in the twelve years we have lived on the northwest coast I feel like I may have a case of SAD [seasonal affective disorder]. Other people have spoken about this and suffered from it but I have always been quite self-righteous in my proclamations that the weather does not affect me. ” I can bike to work twelve months of the year!” But for the past few weeks it has been consistently wet, cold and grey. The clouds squat mercilessly close to the ground and persistently piss forth a cold concoction that is a bit snow, a bit rain, a bit hail but really not anything other than annoying, especially when I’m cycling. The crocuses pushed up through the soil a month ago but the poor flowers remain closed because they never get anything they want to open up for!
I’ve been a miserable lout the past few weeks. Yes, my brother-in-law died a month ago, our young adult kids are in transition, our parents are aging, my brother is going through hard times, I’m in the midst of mid-life issues, friends’ marriages are on the rocks, there are debts to pay and other first world problems, but I really have no excuse other than the weather. I feel like I’m a shallow individual. I did have the flu out the back end one day last week so at least I could honestly say I felt the shits for a day, but that is over now!
Since that day in 2012 there have been two suicides, three cancer diagnoses with subsequent treatments ongoing, two divorces, two long term hospitalizations, homelessness, and two near death experiences in our circle of family and friends. As a result of witnessing one of the latter I am suffering from the ugly and embarrassing symptoms of post-traumatic stress. We don’t live in Syria but even in the lower mainland of BC this kind of winter has been long enough. In his book of reflections on the psalms of lament [A Cry of Absence], Martin Marty articulates what he calls a wintry spirituality. It is marked by the common refrain: “How long O Lord, how long?”