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Griffin to Go: Winter Blues

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Recipe: Potato Fennel Soup

I moved to upstate New York in the mid-1980s and stayed there for six long winters. Though I loved the town in summer, when all was lush and green and largely tranquil, the snow was something I just couldn’t hack.

So, when it snowed one June, I moved to Florida a few months later. I stayed there a year longer, loving the white sand of the beaches and the warmth of the gulf waters. Sure, there was hurricane season to contend with, but that seemed like a much better alternative than sliding around on ice. (And a hurricane didn’t actually hit my town until one or two years after I moved to Texas.)

My move to Texas was meant to keep me along a similar latitude. So what happened? As I write this, the mercury in the thermometer has gone into hiding. The wind is howling outside, and my heater is proving woefully inadequate to the conjure the sun-baked setting I’d prefer.

I hope I don’t come across as a whiner. I suffer from some form of seasonal affective disorder. I’m not alone. According to Wikipedia, anywhere from 1.5 percent to 9 percent of the population suffer from it, too. To us, T.S. Eliot had it all wrong; April isn’t the cruelest month, January is. Or maybe it stretches past April until the cold disappears.

The problem starts earlier than the new year. I loathe the time change in the fall as the days get shorter. I find it harder each day to tumble into the darkness of morning and return in the seemingly greater darkness of the evening. We’ve passed the winter solstice, however, which means the days should be getting longer, right?

That doesn’t matter when my body longs for 85-degree days and is instead encased in long johns.

I would love to say that cooking is a panacea. It does help in that the stove adds some heat to the house. It’s also prompted me to expand my soup repertoire, and I’ve taken to trying a new recipe each week. The parade has included the likes of Potato and Fennel, White Winter Vegetable, and Tomato, Celery and Apple. Excellent all, but not quite the cure.

Soup can’t prevent the itching eyes and endless sneezing that has come from the explosion of cedar pollen.

The right music is a great mood enhancer. I woke up with the lyrics of a favorite, obsure Christmas carol in my head, “We thank you, God, for telling us that spring is very near/And thank you for your love.” It helped for quite awhile that day, as opposed to the night before when I played a song called “Another Winter in a Summer Town.” What was I thinking?

A change of scenery also did a world of good. I spent the weekend out of town, and the three-hour drive each way was in blissful sunlight. I hadn’t felt the sun on my face in who knows how long, and it restored me, again for a short while.

So, I will force myself to steal what sunlight comes my way. And wait for spring. It’s coming.

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