The best of fall and spring.

Here’s a collection of my favorite photos from each week I did this series.

Spring.

March 8th:
winter_into_spring1

March 15th:
spring_3-15

March 22nd:
spring322-10

March 29th:
spring329-3

April 5th:
spring4_5_6

April 12th:
spring_412_1

April 20th:
spring_4_20_3

April 25th:
spring_425_1

May 3rd:
spring_0503_02

Fall:

September 7th:
sep_7_5

September 13th:
sept_13_2

September 20th:
autumn_sept20_4

September 27th:
fall_sep27_2

October 7th:
fall_oct7_3

October 17th:
fall_oct17_5

October 24th:
fall_oct24_2

November 5th:
fall_nov5_3

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My Seasonal Affective Disorder makes me want to hibernate until spring.

seasonal_moods
Graph I made showing my mood pattern throughout the year. It’s this way every year.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my SAD.

SAD is triggered by the lack of light and shortening days for those affected with it. During the shorter days the brain produces more melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that induces sleepiness in certain animals, like bears. It’s the reason why some mammals hibernate until the warmer, longer days of spring. Unfortunately, some humans retain this biological urge to hibernate, but because we must continue to live productive lives, our natural urge to sleep is ignored and seasonal depression is the result.

I seem to suffer from a weird form of SAD. The fall is much more depressing to me than winter. Most people with SAD feel terrible in late fall AND all winter. But for me, I start feeling depressed sometime in mid-August, when the days are growing noticeably shorter. Obviously, for me, the heat as nothing to do with it.

My SAD really kicks in once Fall officially starts and the trees start changing colors. My worst months are by far November and December. I absolutely hate them. I can’t stand the holidays (too stressful), so they do nothing to lighten or bring cheer to my low mood. All I want to do is curl into a little ball and hibernate until early spring.

In mid-late fall, everything looks so grim and barren to me–shades of gray, brown, and black, and everything is dying/going to sleep. The cold, gloomy, overcast days don’t help either. It’s dark when I get up and dark when I come home from work. It’s everything I can do to drag myself through these dark, depressing days.

Although I hate ice and cold and snow, sometime around the end of January (which I read is statistically the most depressing month of the year) my mood begins to perk up as my body begins to notice the lengthening days. Actually, I feel relief after the first day of winter, just knowing the days are going to get longer for 6 more months. I feel even more relief once the Holiday season is over (which I find really stressful).

My mood continues to improve until mid-late spring, then starts to level off, until early August when it starts to sink again.

My mood is at it’s highest around the end of April/early May. I have no idea why. Maybe because the days are fairly long by then, but the oppressive heat (which I don’t really like) hasn’t kicked in yet.

I think it might also have to do with the fact there are so many happy colors in the spring–and they aren’t the dreary 1970s-like browns, golds and oranges of fall. They’re more like 1980s colors–or even 1960s colors in some cases (and weren’t both those decades less depressing than the 1970s?) Everything isn’t all the same boring shade of green the way it is in summer either. I love spring.

My body/brain seems to mimic the cycle of hibernating animals–except that in the winter I actually feel better than in the fall. That I can’t really figure out because I hate cold weather so much (and it’s coldest here in February, but my mood is not that bad anymore by then).

I face this same strange pattern every single year. I’m coming into the worst of it in about another month or so. Blah.

For further reading: How to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder/Winter Blues:
http://www.normanrosenthal.com/blog/2012/01/how-to-beat-seasonal-affective-disorder-winter-blues-infographic/

Has anyone noticed the trees are already changing color?

fall_tree

It’s still only August, but it seems like autumn has arrived early. I first noticed about 2 weeks ago that many of the trees in this area (western NC, US) are already changing to their fall colors. Normally this doesn’t start to happen in this part of the country until mid-late September, so this is about a month ahead of time.

It’s been swelteringly hot (and only in the past week have I noticed it’s getting a bit cool at night and in the early morning), so I don’t think the temperature has anything to do with what’s happening to the trees. Someone told me this can happen when the weather is very dry too, because without enough water, the trees can’t produce chlorophyll, which is what makes them green. We’ve had little rain this summer, so perhaps this is the reason.

Spring is just autumn in reverse!

october_or_april
October or April?
Photo credit: Deer browsing in Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park courtesy of SmokyPhotos.com

I have noticed this too, especially this year because of the weekly “Progression of Spring” series I’ve been doing. It seems to be one of those things people just never take the time to notice. The “fall” colors are more muted, but they’re there.

Spring is Just Autumn in Reverse
By Richard Weisser

When we think of spring and photography, we usually think about all of the wonderful and colorful blooms that burst forth in our neighborhood. It is truly beautiful and I take as many photos of flowers in spring as I can.

But some years back, I also noticed that trees had a unique quality during the leafing process. As they initially set their seeds, they assume autumn-like hues for a very short period of time.

They can appear red, orange and yellow with a translucent quality that is very conducive to photography. The film photograph in this article, which appears at first glance to be taken in October, was actually taken in April 2000!

So while you’re out getting your spring flower photographs, why not take a second look at the trees?

After all, they only change colors TWICE a year!

The progression of spring: April 12th

I went a little crazy with my camera today. Flowers galore and so much color everywhere! The dogwoods are blooming, and most trees are becoming green now. A few trees are showing autumn colors before their chlorophyll kicks in.

It’s also my daughter’s 22nd birthday today. Okay, I know that’s off topic, but I had to say it. đŸ™‚
I remember her psychiatrists and counselors used to say she would be lucky to make it to age 19. Well, she’s still here!

Enjoy this week’s photos. You can click them on to see more detail.

spring_412_1 spring_412_2
spring_412_3 spring_412_4
spring_412_5 spring_412_6
spring_412_7 spring_412_8
spring_412_9 spring_412_10
spring_412_11 spring_412_12

Previous posts in this series:
1. Winter into Spring: March 8th: https://luckyottershaven.com/2015/03/08/winter-into-spring/
The Progression of Spring:
2. March 15th: https://luckyottershaven.com/2015/03/15/the-progression-of-spring-march-15th/
3. March 22nd: https://luckyottershaven.com/2015/03/22/the-progression-of-spring-march-22/
4. March 29th: https://luckyottershaven.com/2015/03/30/the-progression-of-spring-march-29/
5. April 5th: https://luckyottershaven.com/2015/04/05/progression-of-spring-april-5th/

Winter into Spring

I love very late winter, because it’s when suddenly nature returns from the dead and gloom of that season. Even though the trees are still pretty bare and it’s still pretty cold, the lengthening and slightly warmer days have cause the buds to begin to open, showing their true (fall) colors before the chlorophyll starts kicking in.

I snapped these photos this morning in my neighborhood, after church. If you look closely, some of the trees have a yellowish tint and others, a reddish one. It really doesn’t look much like winter anymore. Birds were chirping everywhere and I heard children playing outdoors in the distance.

winter_into_spring1
winter_into_spring2
winter_into_spring3

Experiencing this simple moment was the perfect gift just after having attended mass during the third week of Lent. Late winter/spring and the Easter season is all about resurrection and rebirth.

I decided to post the Youtube link to George Winston’s piano music, “Winter into Spring” here. It’s the whole album. Listen to it while sitting outside or appreciating the rapid changes nature is undergoing even if only from your window. No matter how poor, sick or beaten down by life we are, we are all blessed to have these gifts that cost nothing.

It’s March!

earlyspring
By the end of this month, some places will look like this.

I cannot believe we’re already into the third month of 2015. Where did the winter go? It can’t go away too fast for me!

March is a special month. Once it arrives, I start to realize the season of darkness, ice, cold, flu, and high heating bills is finally in its death throes. Sure, March is still cold in most of the non-tropical northern hemisphere. There can still be snowstorms and some of the worst blizzards in history have happened in March. It’s not quite time to put away the winter coats and gloves and take off the snow tires yet.

But in March, the snow that falls tends to melt faster, the days are getting noticeably longer (don’t forget to set your clocks AHEAD next Sunday!), and by mid-month, at least in my part of the country, the weather gets a bit warmer too.

The first thunderstorms of the year arrive, and people living in Tornado Alley must be wary of severe weather again. I happen to love big storms and like to sit outside on my covered porch and watch them roll in.

On some days and nights, you may even be able to keep the heat turned off, which lowers your heating bill.

In many southern and mid-Atlantic states, some trees begin to show a hazy pale greenish tint by the end of the month. Other trees take on a diluted version of the same colors you see on them in the fall, before their chlorophyll kicks in. (Has anyone ever noticed this? I never did until a few years ago). The forsythias and first crocuses and other early-spring flowers begin to bloom. You may see a robin or two in your backyard. Although most trees are still bare, many are sporting fat buds on their branches.

March is the month the intrepid (some might say insane) hikers who decide to take on all 2,168 miles of the Appalachian trail begin their trek in Georgia (and won’t complete their journey until late August or September, when they arrive in Maine just as it starts to turn colder). Hiking the entire Appalachian Trail is actually on my Bucket List of things to do before I die. I’m crazy enough to do it if I can ever afford to take off the six months it requires to just drop out of modernity and normal life (which would not be a problem for me at all!)

early_spring
Very early spring along the Appalachian Trail.

If you live in a rural area you start to notice fields being tilled in preparation for sowing the year’s crops.

Easter stuff is being sold everywhere. Hell, it’s been out there in the stores since February 15th! Garden centers start stocking up again.

By the end of this month, if it gets at all warm, I will probably need to uncover the lawnmower and push that creaky old rusted machine through the grass for the first time this year.

I love this time of year, because of the way it represents the promise of new life and another cycle of nature at its very beginning. The world is like a person stirring in light sleep just before waking up to start a new day.

In just three weeks, it will be officially Spring, even if we still need to keep our coats and sweaters handy for a few more weeks.

I think March is underrated. Everyone gets so excited about the coming of Fall, but as beautiful as that time of year is, I have always found it a bit depressing. Everything is dying and the days are getting colder and shorter. This time of year, while the weather is still not ideal and there’s no big holiday season to look forward to (outside of Easter), the mood of lengthening days and stronger and warmer sunlight nurtures my spirit.

If you love spring, you will love this book I read several years ago called “Chasing Spring: An American Journey through a Changing Season,” which describes a road trip that follows the progress of the season starting in the deep South as early as late February and progressing northward until the middle of June, when spring weather finally arrives in northern Canada.

Spring is coming.

earlyspring

It’s time for a little positivity. Something happy and inoffensive and unserious.

I love spring. It’s my favorite season. Not too hot, not too cold, and everything’s coming alive again after the long dreary winter and the world is suddenly full of color. The days are becoming long again and we can go outside without coats, gloves and hats. Spring works wonders on my mood. I’m usually in fairly high spirits, as much as someone with PTSD and prone to depression can be.

Fall is pretty but I don’t like it much because everything’s dying and the days are growing shorter. Although the foliage is pretty it only lasts a couple of weeks and then everything’s all downhill after that. I also start stressing about the upcoming holiday season.

I hate winter with all my being. As a sufferer of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) I find the short days, gloom, and darkness tend to exacerbate my depressions or even cause them. All I want to do is sleep the winter away. I wish I could hibernate. I also hate being cold. I don’t even like snow.

Summer is alright, but it’s too hot and humid here in the southeast and because I have cats that go in and out, every year I do battle with fleas. (why do they exist? what is their purpose in the world anyway?)

Spring may get tornadoes and violent thunderstorms but they don’t affect this part of the country too much and I can enjoy a good thunderstorm. Other than that, it’s the perfect time of year for me.

On that note, I’d like to share these photos I found. In just over two months, spring will be with us again!

spring1 spring2
spring3 spring4
spring5 spring6