Three signs of spring.

daffodils

I saw some of these today.

Spring is my favorite season.   You know why, if you read this blog.  The best thing about it (besides the end of the cold weather and short days) is it spells the end of my yearly bout of SAD.

Of course, Easter candy appearing in stores (sometimes as early as before Valentines Day!) definitely hints that spring is on its way.   There’s also the days growing longer.

But today I saw the first real signs of spring.  In spite of the nasty weather we’ve been having,  I saw bright yellow daffodils growing in the garden of a neighboring house.   I looked at my own messy garden, full of dead vegetation from last year that was never cleared.  Poking up through the debris were the bright green shoots of my daylilies.    I was surprised because it’s been so cold, but I guess not cold enough to keep them from sprouting.   The longer days might have also woken up the bulbs.

If you look closely at the trees around here, many of them have a reddish tint and swollen looking tips, which means the buds are getting ready to open.

Last night we had a thunderstorm.  Although winter thunderstorms in this part of the country  aren’t infrequent, they almost always appear toward the end of winter, and increase throughout the spring into summer.   So that’s a the third sign of spring.

The only thing I’m not looking forward to is having to mow the lawn again.  Ugh.

Happy first day of Fall!

Not exactly my favorite season, but not dead last either (that would be winter!)

Can’t argue with Snoopy.  Enjoy!

Happy-Autumn-First-Day-of-Fall-Snoopy-Dog-Picture

3 videos to end the seasonal doldrums.

These are amazing videos showing different interpretations of all four seasons.  Even if you hate winter, these make you appreciate how all the seasons have their own beauty and work together for the good of the planet.

The second video is interesting because it’s a timelapse taken in Oslo, Norway, known for its long winters and the midnight sun in summer.  Because it’s so close to the Arctic Circle, notice how short the nights are in June and how it never gets really light out in December.   It also doesn’t look like spring really gets underway until May.    That makes me feel very fortunate to live in North Carolina, where spring comes as early as early March and it doesn’t really start getting cold until December.  I really should stop complaining.

The third video is a work of art and I love the seasonal sounds of nature mixed into the timelapse footage.  I also like the way you can see the changing angles of sunlight throughout the year.

All three of these are breathtaking and relaxing.

Year on Planet Earth:

A True Timelapse of 2010 (Oslo, Norway)

A Forest Year:

Trying to appreciate fall.

fallleaves

Appreciating fall isn’t easy for me.   It’s my worst time of year and when my SAD is at its worst.   I find fall depressing, for reasons I’ve already discussed in this post.

Most of the trees around here aren’t very pretty in the fall.   In my part of the country, we don’t get too many of the brilliant fall colors that so many people crow on endlessly about. Every year, no matter what the summer weather has been like, the trees change from green to dull brown or sometimes this ugly shade of maroon and finally to bare.   It’s a depressing sight, and I’m not a fall holiday sort of person at all so that doesn’t make up for anything.   I don’t see what the big deal is about pumpkins and why everyone gets so excited about them.   They’re just an overgrown squash and nearly inedible too.  (Gourds are a little better because they’re more interesting looking).

My dislike of fall is weird because during my teens and 20s, fall was actually my favorite season.   I don’t know when this began to change.  I also don’t remember what I liked so much about it.  Maybe I never really did, and just convinced myself I loved fall because all my friends did and liking fall was considered much cooler than liking spring.  Only old people liked spring best.  Or so it seemed at the time.  But I really am kind of old now, so I don’t have to feel guilty about liking spring best anymore.

I’m trying to like fall.   I really am.   The weather is pleasant, at least through early November (then it’s all downhill).   We do have a few colorful maples here and there.   There are actually quite a few at the shopping center where I was this morning (probably planted there on purpose for their colors).    I decided to pick up a few of the fallen leaves that are actually showing pretty colors and arranged them on a black velvet pillow for this picture.

This coming Friday, October 21, the foliage on the Blue Ridge Parkway will be at its peak, and I’ve taken the day off work anyway, so I plan to drive up there and just try to appreciate the fall scenery and spend some time in nature before the dreary November rains come and finally winter is once again upon us.

8 good things about fall.

pumpkin_patch

Alright, fine.  I hate fall (see my last post), but it does have a few redeeming traits.  I can name them on one hand plus three fingers.  See?  I can be fair.

  1.  The end of flea season.  If you’re a pet owner, you know exactly why this is important. Especially if you’re sensitive to their bites, the way I am.
  2. No more blisteringly hot, humid, days that make you feel like you’re covered in glue and cause your hair to frizz up and your clothes to stick to you like ColorForms™, and cause tempers to flare.
  3. No more bugs.
  4. You don’t have to mow the grass anymore.  Or at least you can mow it a lot less.
  5. Halloween is kind of fun, and Christmas always turns out to be nice, in spite of the dreaded, over-commercialized “holiday season” that precedes it starting around Labor Day.
  6. You don’t feel guilty about sleeping in on weekends, or get that awful feeling that you might be missing something because you wasted your day lying in bed.
  7. Pumpkins are overrated and taste like garbage, but they do look sort of bright and happy sitting out there on a patch of grass covered with leaves.  Gourds are nice too.
  8. The smell of wet fallen leaves, fattening baked goods (except pumpkin pies, ew), and fires.

12 reasons why I don’t like autumn.

ugly_autumn
In my neck of the woods, this is what Autumn looks like.

Yesterday was the first cool-ish day we’ve had since May.   While the lower temperature felt nice, I also noticed for the first time that some of the trees are beginning to change colors.  It was also overcast and gloomy, and I realized that my SAD symptoms have kicked in full bore.   I just felt like crawling into bed to escape from the sadness I felt.   After winter, fall is my least favorite season.   Here are 12 reasons why I hate it.

1.  Around here, the “changing colors” just means the trees change from green to brown to bare.  A few turn this unattractive shade of deep maroon or this dirty looking yellow, but unless you go up to the Parkway, we really don’t get the brilliant fall colors you see in places further north, like Vermont.   To me, fall is not only not pretty,  it’s actually sort of ugly.  The traditional “fall colors”–gold, brown, red and orange–look like ’70s colors to me–I much prefer the ’80s colors of spring.

2.  Everyone crowing about how great fall is.   Shut up.  Please.  Just shut up.

3.  I have to deal with the school traffic again every morning on my way to work.

4. “Pumpkin spice” everything.  Makes me want to puke in my mouth.   Take your damn pumpkin scents and flavors (newsflash–pumpkin tastes like nothing) and GTFO.

5.  It gets dark early and it’s dark when you get up for work, and every day is darker and shorter than the last.

6.  The gloom.  November and December are the worst, but October is guilty too.  Gray, overcast, dark, rainy, and depressing doesn’t bode well for my SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). And in late fall, around here it rains.   And rains. And rains.  And it’s not the life-giving, energizing sudden showers of spring, it’s all-day-and-all-night-long, cold, dismal, continuous drizzle that sometimes turns icy and makes you want to go hibernate until spring.

7.  All the “fall-foliage” seeking idiots who clog the roads on their way to the Parkway. Go to Vermont instead. The colors there are much nicer.

8.  Fake, over-commercialized holidays — in particular the extended Christmas season which seems to start earlier every year–which seem intended to bring some “cheer” to the gloomy last half of fall, but really just makes everyone a nervous wreck instead because of its unrealistic expectations of “family togetherness,” over the top commercialization, and extravagant gift-giving that no one can really afford.  Oh, and let’s not forget Thanksgiving, with its heavy, fatty, depressing food and its gross PUMPKIN pie.  And these days, Thanksgiving is eclipsed by Black Friday anyway, which now starts on Thanksgiving, so all the turkey stuffed lemmings go rushing out to stand on line all night in the rainy cold for a new flat screen TV.  Halloween is okay, but is overrated as f.

9. I could give a rat’s arse about football, and that’s all anyone talks about besides their holiday plans.

10.  Fall means winter is coming and winter is torture to me on every level.

11. Let’s stop denying it.  In the fall, everything’s dying.  Those “brilliant colors” you see for about two weeks?  It’s just the leaves  attempting to get your attention one last time before they drop dead and turn into worm-food, that’s all.

12.  Once you get into the months ending in -ber, you know one more year is in its death throes and for some reason that’s really depressing.

Fall2008
A sad little twig with its wilting, dying leaves just makes me want to cry.

*****

Further reading:

https://luckyottershaven.com/2015/09/27/my-seasonal-affective-disorder-makes-me-want-to-hibernate-until-spring/

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. 🙂
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/