Every fall or early winter, life takes a different turn for me. The air starts cooling down and the weather changes, sometimes drastically. Living in Austria, a place with four seasons, I am reminded why people have gone crazy from gray days. The first year I was here, I read that the winter had the most days without sunshine since World War II. All I could think was wow.
Today, I look outside and see the clouds gathering because it’s supposed to rain. It’s another gray day and frankly, all it makes me want to do is grab a good book and curl up on the couch. Or for me, I grab my tablet and curl up on the couch. LOL!
Still, being a writer makes these days hard as our observation skills are not as tuned as normal. When I write setting, I try to make the weather a living thing. It is really when you think about it. I remember a line once from the movie Twister that I always thought fascinating; Jo’s talking and she says, ‘You’ve never seen it miss this house, and miss that house, and come after you!’ Weather is like that and one can use it in stories as character when needed.
Everyone remembers the famous first line: ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ from but how many of us really remember what novel it’s from. I didn’t and had to look it up: it’s from the 1830 novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton called Paul Clifford. While you might not remember the author or book, you most certainly do remember the weather of the opening.
You’re probably wondering just why I’m talking about the season and the weather this way. While this is my favorite season of the year, it is also one of the hardest for me. During fall and the beginning of winter, I’m moody, I write dark things that I normally wouldn’t write and all I want to do is laze around, not doing much at all. Hence the above sentence telling you about curling up on the couch and reading.
Some people have what’s called Seasonal Affect Disorder and it was noticed in places that are dark for large portions of the year. In Alaska and other places around the world, people use special lights, like grow lights, to give them back what they are missing from the sun. Now, I wouldn’t say I’ve gone that far but I can certainly commensurate with those people. I will go days without even wanting to do something productive then a switch is flipped and I’m baking up a storm. Believe it or not, it is also one of the reasons lots of babies were conceived during this period as there wasn’t much else to do when the world got dark.
I’m better around lots of people doing things like writers’ meetings but not having many friends in Austria, and no family, is really taking its toll on me during the fall and winter seasons. So, I’ve learned to take my joy from other things. Like writing. It’s during this time that I write, besides the dark parts, some of my more happy stories like those set around Christmas. That holiday has done more for me during the winter months than any other.
Thanksgiving here is something new here whereas at home it’s a major tradition. In Austria, we’ve actually started the American tradition and invite many friends to our home. We love doing it and were amazed last year when we discovered a full sized turkey will fit into our small oven. We did dressing and pumpkin pie as well as other traditional American dishes as we shared one of our most precious holidays with people who didn’t know a thing about it prior. Sharing one’s traditions is a good way to learn about people and have them learn about you.
So, today, I will watch those clouds outside my window, looking for the dragon or train or plane…aren’t clouds amazing that way? And I’ll hope for the sun to come back soon. Until then, I’ll write the dark parts of my stories as well as some of the happy parts too.
But how about you? Just what do you do to keep the seasonal blues away? Do you write? Read? Do you bury your head under the pillows and wish it would suddenly be spring? One lucky commenter will get a copy of one of my happier stories, A Viennese Christmas.
Have a great month…and see you all next!