Sunday, November 13, 2011

Of Darkness and Squash

Today I am not SAD.
It’s a +5 day.  I woke up a little late, cleaned the kitchen, fixed an omelet. I had three episodes of the new series Grimm TiVo’d, so I popped that on.  Grimms are a family of supernatural storybook character profilers, our star is one of the last few remaining and it’s set in Portland.  Two episodes in and I’m hooked.  I’m sitting in my jammies, tucked under a quilt my sister made me for christmas several years ago as it’s bloody cold, people.
It turned quite cold this week, and this is twirling up to be my second Winter of Disconnect.  Last winter I got cold. Freezing.  I needed sweaters and scarves and multiple layers.  When the chill set in this week, I was ready.  The minute warm gear hit Target in roasty, toasty September, I cleared out the jumpers section and the long-sleeved T’s to boot.  Friday I went to work, where I run like a rabid monkey all day and I still sported a T, jumper and my Citron shawl til nearly 2pm.  Which would be nominally annoying, season-wise, not a blip on The Scale. 
Until the Darkness sets in.
The Scale is a handy-dandy psychological diagnostic device, mine runs from -10 to +10 and describes how I’ve survived my day.  Which, when 6pm ushered in total darkness a couple weeks ago, sent me plunging further down the number line. My mind goes kinda blank and my heart sinks. Work has required more time and I thought it would help, but I’ve had to employ the energetically strenuous practice of mindfulness to maintain some positivity and connection to the world outside my hibernating brain. 
Mindfulness sounds like some tree-hugging, dirt-munching, new-age crunchy BS, but it’s a carefully formulated approach to grasping the last straws of my sanity in the dark wilderness of Winter.  I try to revel in events as they happen--dinner with friends, time with my parents, small things that mean connection to the outside world.  So when I inevitably forget things on a daily basis, I have these things to hold on to.  A second winter into Season Affective Disorder (SAD) and I’m getting a much better handle on it, so I have a lot more “+” days on the calendar. .
So really just a lot of blankness.  I get up, it’s dark.  Get through my day, leave work at 6.15 and it’s dark.  Drive home for an hour and while in Summer I reveled in sunshine and music and the open sunroof, I have discovered a new, deeper rooting to my SAD.  It is not as much a depression as anger.  Deep, abiding anger.  I feel betrayed by the Darkness. What I spent my younger life loving--the cold, the coziness, the holiday season, the sound of a storm at night when I’m inside--most of it I now find a grotesque imposition.  I am bitterly angry at the cold that is chilling me to the bone, the dwindling light, the night that swallows me daily.
It’s all about grabbing back the light.  Today is the first time I’ve been able to pull sentences together, culled from a few weeks’ worth of scribbled lines in my diary.  I’ve been knitting more--I’ve got a second sock going and Stephen West’s fabulous Daybreak shawl nearly done in A Verb for Keeping Warm’s Metamorphosis in Transnational Fury and Cascade Venezia in Black. Gotta keep warm!
My CSA veggie box provided butternut squashes several weeks in a row, so I learned to make soup, which was way easier than I thought and delicious.  I cut two of ‘em in half long-wise, scooped the seeds out, drizzled in olive oil, placed them in pyrex 9X13 dishes and roasted them at 375F for an hour.  Go do something else.  Get something done. Suddenly it’s not so hard when I realise it was 5 minutes of effort on the front end then letting it go it’s merry way.  It smells amazing and cheerful.  It comes out of the oven a dark and gorgeous orange.  
Scoop the lovely squash out into a pot then sprinkle with  2tsp Sweet Curry powder, 1 tsp Kosher Salt and 1.5 tsp Smoked Paprika, plus some hot sauce.  Then take your stick blender and a box of chicken stock, and having placed the pot over low-medium heat, blend away while drizzling in stock.  It will go from mashed potato consistency to a very thick porridge to a lovely smooth soup in less than 10 minutes.  
At this point, quit with the thunder stick and stir while heating the soup.  You may add cream at this point if you like, it creates a gorgeous unctuous bowl of warm deliciousness that will drive out the shadows of winter in no time at all.  I serve with a sliced baguette and brie.
Pin It Now!

1 comment:

  1. I add chicken or if it's closer to the holidays>>crab.

    Man it's good!

    Try a bit of curry powder instead of the paprika and hot sauce.
    Won't disappoint!