Cambrian: Slice of Life

Daffodils over depression, a flowery cure for seasonal affective disorder

It’s hard to remain depressed in the face of sunny daffodils.
It’s hard to remain depressed in the face of sunny daffodils.

Clouds were looming overhead again, and I was feeling winter grumpy.

I needed a rainbow or two … but Mother Nature sent me flowers instead.

I had tried to cheer myself up meteorologically. “We need the rain.” Check. “We’ve had a lot of summerlike sunshine and warmth this winter.” Check. “The days already are getting longer, albeit by only a few seconds per day, and the dark-to-daylight balance could be lots worse; we could live in Alaska.” Check.

I was feeling out of sorts anyway.

Was this “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD), with sufferers having a tendency to hibernate, be less interested in friends and activities … craving carbs, having no energy or motivation and being apathetic and bored?


Metaphorically patting myself on the shoulder, I rationalized that I’m entitled to feel cranky, a little disconnected and depressed. There’s been lots happening in the Tanner household, family and social circle. Yours, too? I’m so sorry!

In 2017, the Tanners went through a whole range of upheavals, from major job changes, insurance wrangles, the loss of good friends, illness and surgery to the national political kerfuffles and a stupid fender-bender accident (I still think it was his fault … grump, kvetch, gripe).

We’ve had medical stuff. Financial stuff. Emotional stuff. Destruction and sudden death … like the post-mudslide discovery of the body of Rebecca Riskin, “the first lady of luxury real estate” in Santa Barbara. Why did her death upset us so much more than that of the 19 or more others who died in the slide? Rebecca was the wife of our grandson’s boss, who was himself seriously injured after the hillsides gave way.

Also, many more people than usual are battling nasty, potentially critical cases of the flu. With two vulnerable patients in the house, we’re limiting their time in crowds, which makes doctor’s office visits, pharmacy stops and grocery shopping into interesting adventures laced with lots of Purell. The flu also puts a real crimp in our interactions with friends, which had already been severely reduced by Husband Richard’s intermittent lung congestion and Son Brian’s painful, month-plus recovery from emergency surgery.

Remember the stomach-pill commercial on TV, in which the person eating is repeatedly slapped by overgrown versions of his dinner? That’s how I felt about 2017. And, so far, the jury’s out on 2018.

Grumpy, I was.

Then I saw the daffodils. Ahhhhh …

Yes, the perky yellow flowers were in a vase at Trader Joe’s, rather than growing in my garden. But still. How can you be disagreeable around a daffodil?

Of course, I bought them. I’m no dummy. Daffodils are Mother Nature’s antidepressant.

Fortunately, I have little patience with a depressed version of myself, preferring to pull myself up by my emotional boot straps and find reasons to smile, giggle and get things done.

I know the classical prescriptions for combatting SAD, from fish-oil supplements and light therapy to staying active, meditating and getting cozy.

Sometimes, though, I have to get out of my comfort zone (aka rut) to get the full effect.

That happened the day after I bought those lemon-yellow daffodils.

I was feeling a bit more upbeat, but still overwhelmed by work, caregiving chores and a serious case of malaise.

As always when I’m in the laundry room folding clean clothes, I looked out the window into the rock garden.

Surprise! The calendar may say winter, but parts of the garden are already saying spring. What made me grin was seeing our giant jade plant absolutely drenched with blossoms.

“I need to get a picture of that,” I said to myself. When I went outside and walked up the steps to the big blooming bush, I got an unexpected wave of pure glee.

The jade plant was abuzz with dozens of honeybees!

The hive-living pollinators — long a cause of concern because of colony-collapse disorder and other causes — were darting in and out among the flowers. The entire plant was vibrating.

Winter blues, bah humbug! As my friend Laura Ruthemeyer posted on Facebook Jan. 11, the four keys to happiness are: Having someone to love, somewhere to be, something to do and something to look forward to. Check, check, check and check (thank you, camera).

But, just to be safe, I’ll think I’ll put rainbows, daffodils and honeybees on my list.