This morning, as I forced a crowbar of consciousness between my eyelids to coax them out of the sweet cocoon of sleep, I heard a bird. A single, sung, string of notes, like a flutist practicing her frills before a big performance. It didn’t last more than a single bar, but it was enough to flash Spring across my mind, warm my cold soul, reinforce that our sunlight temperance was, like all this snow, only temporary.
I suffer during the winter months. As soon as we lose Fall to those clocks who think that somehow giving us an hour will make up for all the long darkness, my energy slumps. The timely affliction is technically called Seasonal Affective Disorder, which I admit sounds like a completely made up thing to anyone who has never been hit by its unforgiving, inexplicable symptoms.
Medical research suggests it’s partly a deficiency in Vitamin D, a lack of exposure to daylight, a chemical void that can be fixed by little lamps, little pills, and little jabs of optimism. But the sulking pseudo-depression feels like more than that. It feels like someone dumped sand into your engine, like you’re pumping old, dirty oil into your brain to try to lubricate it, like your whole body is in serious need of a tune-up. Your car will start after some laboring and you can technically drive, but it’s a shuddering, slow affair, and you’re worried your clutch is going to slip at any second.
My energy isn’t the only thing that wanes; everything I hold onto and love seems muted by January grey. I find my ideas are trite, my confidence lacking, my creativity stagnant. This year’s winter was made worse by the chemicals having emotions to share a playground with, which lead to several weeks of getting little done, and then feeling especially bad about how little had gotten done.
But even if the plant looks brown and dead on the surface, the roots are strong and patient.
The little signs of spring – an early birdsong, a peeping crocus, a late-winter release of a favorite beer from a favorite brewery – start to pull me out of my mental morass. The Spring seasonals, be them buttercups or bees or beers, mark a turning point, when I feel the real me, the one who has been hibernating, shake the sleepy sludge from his shoulders and rise to greet the long rays of sun.
I’ve waffled on seasonals before, sometimes thinking they’re a bit too gimmicky for their own economic good. But there’s something about the rebirth of classic styles that makes Spring my favorite. Long gone as the spices of winter warmers and the gourdy-sweetness of the pumpkin patch, replaced by lagers of long tradition, pilsners and helles and all the bright bitterness the comes with. Hops don’t seem as heavy in those lower ABV beers you share a warm breeze with, and suddenly you’re not bound to your couch or your stout to hide from the bad kind of bitter, the one that howls on winter wind yelling at you to stay indoors.
I know Nugget Nectar from Troegs isn’t really a Spring seasonal. But it’s a herald for me. A knight, clad in brown and orange, sitting on a hill top with banner held high. His sole presence is enough to remind me that he has an army is at his back, an army made of baby animals and beautiful buds, an army armed with and by life, ready to put winter where it belongs: behind us.