Monday, June 27, 2022

...a Little Rain MUST Fall

 "Into each life a little rain must fall." While this line is well known (though often misquoted as I have done) the author, American singer and songwriter Doris Fisher, is almost forgotten now. She wrote and performed in the 1940s. For your musical history moment today, I share this rendition, by the Ink Spots, a popular vocal group of that day.

I am sharing this, this morning, as background to a brief discussion of "unremitting sunshine", the cloudless sky that greeted me upon arising this morning, and my feeling twinges of my old friend, summertime SAD (seasonal affective disorder). While it is culturally, at least here in the USA, a "thing" to joy in day after day of bright, hot sunny quintessential summer weather and to consider rainy days "bad" weather, I -- for one -- am badly affected by this weather. When, after receiving medical treatment, which helped resolve my long term depression as a younger woman, I began noticing that it wanted to return the next year -- for which I was also treated -- and then again after at... at about the same time of year. I had been warned that this was a phenomenon and to seek counseling to help locate and resolve the trigger.

I did not go that route, and when, in the second year, my trial of St. John's Wart tea as a therapeutic tool was successful, I began harvesting, drying and keeping the herb on hand. It did not take too many years for me to make note of the timing of the recurrences. My depression happened every year during the hot, dry month(s) of late summer.

I was aware of the traditional winter SAD, often treated by light therapy and began researching what I considered its flip season kin but at that time the only references I could find were for the winter variety in the southern hemisphere!

My struggles with this issue came to a peak while living Down East, on the coast of North Carolina. One memory, in particular, is literally burned into my psyche.

In that location, even with the "ocean breeze" that supposedly cools things off in the evening, once summer hits, it truly never felt comfortable to me. I live for open windows in the appropriate seasons (which includes summer!) and the gentle movement of air through the house, the sounds of bird song, neighborhood dogs and even passing cars as the "background music" for my day, inside or out. I have not often been one to keep a radio or -- Gods help me, a television -- running for background sound.

The morning I am remembering, I had got up early and made a cup of iced coffee. I was still in the kitchen standing by the kitchen window, as something outside had caught my attention as I sipped my cold brew and enjoyed the relative cool of the early morning. The window looked east and my view, such as it was, was of the community fire station across the street. As I stood there, the sun rose over the fire house and struck my bare arms and upper chest. I literally stepped back, reacting to the the feeling of being attacked by the beams of the rising sun.

I brewed a pot of St. John's Wart tea and immediately began my routine of 3-4 cups spread through the day. If I recall, it took a week or so for me to feel close to normal again. That was my reality for the time I lived in NC, until I moved to Maine.

I have been here since 2008 -- August, to be exact -- and yes, that year I was on my herbal routine. But I have not had to do the whole three times a day herbal treatment since I arrived. I do keep the herb on hand and on occasion brew up a pot or two, but since moving north -- despite the longer days here this time of year (1 hour, 6 minutes, to be exact, at solstice).


So, I think it is not so much day length that triggers my depression, but what I call unremitting sunshine. Sun, un-tempeed by clouds. Unbroken by rainy days. I do not feel quite the same about days with a high overcast -- filtered sunshine -- or those summer days I call "Microsoft skies" -- filled with white, puffy clouds. And the heat does not help either.

How did I get to this train of thought today? I went to bed looking forward to a rainy day! I had been hoping for a good rain, but sadly watched the predicted accumulation drop through the day yesterday. What I DID NOT expect, though, was to wake up to bright sun and not a cloud in sight! That just hit me like a ton of bricks as I walked out to the garden in my robe to move the hose to water the last row in the garden...where I am nursemaiding some perennials for a friend who ran out of time this spring to plant them before they died.

The irrigation is running and now, thankfully, the sky has clouded up. I think it will be a good day.