WILT #19, in which I break out the full-spectrum light box

I’m looking up into the gaping maws of winter. (How’s that for threatening imagery?) That means something very different out here in Portland than it does back in the northern Midwest–I’m excited that I never again have to worry about losing a digit if I leave my mittens off for more than 3 minutes while waiting for the bus. Tromping through snow in giant boots may be a thing of the past (or a notable rarity), unless I head up to the mountain for a day of skiing. I’m ready to break in my new cozy rain gear and galoshes, though, and to get used to hydroplaning on the highway rather than fishtailing on black ice.

Those winter differences aside, both Portland and Minneapolis sit at a latitude of about 45° N.  We’re halfway to the North Effing Pole. That means that when we fall back, we see the sun oozing down to the horizon rather early. It’s 4:29 PM as I write this post and I’m watching the sky turn the dusky gray color indicative of the sun’s final descent (or, if you want to get technical, indicative of the trusty rotation of the earth).  The mornings are brighter, for now. I don’t really see them, though, with my semi-nocturnal work schedule.

I learned years ago that when daylight savings time ends, I’m inclined to hibernate. And eat truckloads of simple carbohydrates. And sleep 12 hours out of every 24. And have trouble initiating simple shit (for instance, summoning the motivation to click the “new post” link here on the blog required a brief though significant internal battle). I want to cuddle under 12 down comforters with nice cozy mood-lighting and a good book. But then I don’t really want to have to go to the trouble of turning said book’s pages. It’s probably a heavy cookbook. About cooking winter squashes and roasting whole birds and baking pumpkins.

So what have I done with this knowledge? I know it’s coming. So does Jesse. I break out the spicy and aromatic foods to get my vata energy kicked up to balance my overbearing winter kapha, and I drag myself out from under the covers and go to a yoga class, and I make sure I stay warm enough because if I’m cold I’ll get sleepy. But not too warm, because that can make me sleepy too. Thank goodness I’m a knitter who enjoys wearing layers.

Anyway, modern psychology calls this SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. Medicalize it all you want; it doesn’t change the fact that I’m just terribly connected to the rousing properties of sunlight. My little pineal gland–the tiny little button of brain right between my eyes–really depends on sunlight in order to determine if I should be awake or not.

So we’ve learned to trick it. Powerful, expensive lightbulbs in a special housing sit next to my computer monitor and blare full-spectrum light at me for half an hour every morning as I sip my coffee and eat my breakfast. It’s been tested and tested by many sorts of scientists, but I did my own study back when I was growing up in Wisconsin. My mom and I used a full-spectrum light box (sample size = 2) and noticed more pep in our step after spending time with that beast every morning.

So here we are.

Me and my Lampy.

Yeah. It’s 5:04 now and fully dark (and raining to boot). Which means it’s time to start a fire in the fireplace and get some rosemary sweet potatoes roasting in the oven. Time to make the most and the best of this latitude and all its seasonal idiosyncrasies. Let’s go!


2 responses to “WILT #19, in which I break out the full-spectrum light box

  1. I love you and your lampy and headful of spicy winter recipes! Let’s break out some of those here in my kitchen, k?

  2. Hang on, I’m coming over, too. I’ll bring along my Lampy, GF cookies and enough tea to share.

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