Saturday, February 28, 2009


My beautiful niece, Kelsey, who's 18, e-mailed me some of her graduation photos this afternoon. I chose two to feature in my blog, not only to show off a lovely girl (my sister's daughter) but because I was struck by the difference between the two pictures.
Obviously, the first is a black and white photo (they seems to be en vogue now for graduation photos but it's all we had when I was a high school senior) and the second one is in color. Now, this may just be a photography trick I am unaware of, but the background is the same in both.
And this has been exactly how our winter has looked. In the past I always associated February with sunshine and warmer temperatures, if only for the kindness of the afternoon sun streaming in through a south-facing window.
But this year, including February, the skies have been leaden and heavy and oppressive, and often snow-filled. We received another 5 inches this week, making it the second snowiest February on record for Bismarck and the 7th snowiest winter ever (remember when I reported in January that it was the 13th snowiest on record? Wow, we've moved up the charts!)
My interior world has also been gloomy and despondent. There's my usual SAD - or Seasonal Affective Disorder - which pretty much shuts me down from November through April.
Some people say they cocoon in winter; some say they hibernate. I go even further. It's as if I go underground, like Persephone, only allowed to emerge into the sunlight for a portion of the year.
Then, a month ago Monday I injured my knee. I had previously been so blessed and so spoiled in my life that I hadn't had an ailment that hasn't been fixed immediately by medication or surgery - except for carpal tunnel syndrome, and that was cured after four acupuncture treatments.
I have now had five acupuncture treatments on my knees (both, because I was overcompensating with the right knee) and do feel some relief, especially in being able to put weight on my left leg again. From a pain scale of 10/10, I am now at about a 2 or 3 in that respect. Wonderful! Regarding the soreness in the inner knee area, I have gone from 10/10 to 5/10. But I still have so much painful stiffness, especially in the mornings, or when I have been sitting a couple of hours. That pain level is still about a 7-8. And, I am still very shaky on my pins, not being able to stand still for more than a couple of minutes.
I was too overconfident yesterday, and went without my walker all day (for some reason I call it my "stroller", which a few find hilarious) and so I paid for it today. But I am improving and I will never again take my mobility for granted.
So what does all this have to do with Kelsey's photos? The beautiful color that emerged from the chemical soup, the fixative, the Kodachrome, the Technicolor that makes up a color photo. The color that somehow manages to come through the dullness, the greyness, the pea-soup-fogness of my life in winter.
It's the color that shines through into my life from my favorite people. My darling niece - you see the pink in her cheeks and in her top? She is the picture of health and promise and youth. And in her eyes, the presence of an ancient soul. (Yes, I have known this of Kelsey since she was an infant.)
Today, Kelsey, myself and my sister Glori had a wonderful (and cheap) lunch at the Chinese buffet. There was Kelsey, and I in my teal green, and there was Glori in her peachy orange, caring and comforting and warm and loving - the essence of a caregiver, which she is, in spades.
There is the clear blue of my co-workers, such amazing, competent, strong women. There is the vibrant red of my book club - witty, intelligent, hilarious, brilliant at times, comrades always.
There is the kaleidoscope of colors of my blogging friends, all so unique and individual. I treasure them all, and their colors. The lavender of Mary from "Back of the Moon" who sent me a beautiful handmade pendant of my favorite painting, Walter Crane's "Signs of Spring." The emerald green of Joyce from "The Secret Gardener", who spontaneously sent me the Barbie Irish Step Dance Doll, just because I write on Celtic subjects. The bright yellow of Sheila of "Simple Indulgences" who sent me her "old" digital camera after she upgraded, "Just Because." (Not to mention other, previous, gifts of the heart.)
Then there's the snowy white of Dan's hair and his dress shirts. That is the color of all outdoors now, and you might think I would not be able to separate him from the background, but I can see him vividly for his kindness in shoveling walks and starting cars and washing clothes and doing dishes.
There are all the shades of green that I and my daughter Kristen both love, and which shimmer through in her voice as she calls me each Sunday: celadon, sage, jade, mint, forest, grass, teal, aquamarine, turquoise - cool, calm, refreshing and wise (that's the sage!).
These are the colors that shine through, even in my bleached, frozen world. They are the colors of the people I love, and they sparkle -they just sparkle - against the tundra.
I want to thank all of you who wrote such wonderful comments on my "Andrew Wyeth" post. You have re-affirmed me in a time when I needed it most.
And I apologize for having been such a bad commenter this month. I am going to try to get around to all of my favorites in the next week or so.


Margaret's Ramblings said...

I do hope you are feeling more pain free with each day. I also am a great believer in acupuncture. I love the photos of your niece. I do see what you mean but the background. I usually romp through winter, I have a whole group of activities that I love but this winter has been dark for me. Don't know what it is but I yearn for spring. Take care, Margaret

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

What a lovely post - not everyone "sees" things in colors. I think of sounds in colors and amuse Don with my descriptions sometimes. Bird song is bright yellow - loud honking horns are purple, very dark purple.

I love the dark and gloom of winter (but poor Don has SAD) - I love long days by lamplight, a hot cup (or cups) of my favorite tea, stitching or reading on days I can't be outdoors - I love it all and wish I could share that with others.

Yet I still am very ready for spring long before it comes - now spring - that is the best season of the year - hope yours comes quickly and brightly.

Anonymous said...

I have been meandering through your blog ever since I found it on my daughter-in-law's.
Love that it is Celtic in nature. Me & my honeyman are older folks who found each other 3 years ago and recently married (1 1/2 yrs. ago). Our wedding bands have carved in them (not engraved) "Mo anam cara"
So - cheer up, don't let that old melancholy get to you.

Annie Jeffries said...

Hi Julie. Such a pretty neice. She looks fresh and happy and ready for the next step.

Kim Campbell said...

My god Julie, I don't know what to say?! You are one of the most prolific story tellers out there!

The time and research you put into your blog is amazing. And it is worth every word I read. I am almost in tears from your one post.

I think you are an amazing woman.

And I agree, I think you should publish a book. I have loved Miss Stanhope's story......

Kim Campbell said...

Everytime I read your blog, I wish I could print it out and keep it with me.

Lila Rostenberg said...

Hello from a fellow "poor communicator"! YOur post is so creatively written! You may not communicate often in the dark of winter, but when you do it is enlightning!
Hugs to you...hope that knee gets better still!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you've received some relief from the acupencture--hope you're completely restored soon! It's hard to believe how long and hard your winter has been. If only there were a few green shoots poking up through the snow. That somehow makes it all a little more bearable. Your niece is Lovely! I think it may be the same photograph, done in color and then changed into a black and white version using computer software or some sort of photographic reproduction. Beautiful either way!

gma said...

Your way with words is definately in living color. I'm sure it is amazing to see how vibrant everything looks against the gray winter light. You and your writing have added much color in my life.
Glad your knee is getting better.
Kelsy is darling!

Joyce said...

Your perspective is GOOOOOD....and bright and cheery!
I though Kelsey was beautiful...I have TWO Kelsey's in my family...a neice in Iowa and a cousins daughter (that makes the child my second cousin) in Missouri!
They are beautiful as well...:~)
It's a great name.

My daughter will be having her Senior photos taken in a few weeks...and we always do a "black and white" one for our kids as well. They look so refined and classic I feel. And then we do the color ones too. But I always have loved the b/w ones. They tend to be my favorites.

Winter's are so hard in the north especially if you have the "SAD"....honestly.....I think I had it. I'm so much better in the South now. But winter's were my most horrible months and so depressing..blah.
Hang in there my's going to get better. Spring is on it's way for you all and you will be able to get out and about better.
Glad the acupunture is working.....
I'm keeping my eye out for that other Barbie....:~)
Be happy and well......

Lena said...

Hi Julie,

Well, as you know, I too live with SAD during the winter months. It is always at its worst in February for me. This year was the most challenging ever. I have slept and slept and become quite the hermit. It's so nice to be coming out of it now.

I'm so sorry to be belated in getting back to you, and sorry too, to hear of your knee injury. I imagine the combination of both the SAD and the knee have been a trial indeed. I've been thinking of you, though. I know many people have, and are sending you good wishes.

All my best.