We were tucked into a cozy corner at Screw & Brew, drinking craft beer and doing oyster shooters. Outside it was raining (what else?), literally sideways. It was a Friday afternoon, still midday, almost the weekend. To my mind, it was probably a little early to be drinking, although isn’t this what we love about the coast? No matter the day or the hour, you can always make believe you’re on vacation.
As we ate and drank, I was telling the spouse about a phone conversation I’d just had with someone back east. He’s a new work connection for me, so before we got down to it, it seemed a good idea to shoot the breeze. I knew this guy, now an FBI-trained New York police lieutenant, once upon a time served in the U.S. Coast Guard. I asked if he’d done any duty on the west coast, and he said he had. He’d spent some time in California, but said he’d been to Astoria.
What’d you think? I asked.
It was in the middle of winter, he said. It was dark and gray. It rained the whole time I was there. I’m a person who needs sun, so, so I put in to finish out my time in the Florida Keys. Have you been there?
I said I had.
While this winter has been nowhere near as gloomy as last winter, I appreciated his candor. We moved this far west in part to escape the brutal north east winters we’d experienced. After years of digging out under massive dumps of snow and daytime temps so low they made your teeth rattle, the moderate climate of the PNW where even in January and February it rarely drops below freezing was incredibly appealing. What I hadn’t counted on was relentless rain and how much I’d miss the sun, even a cold, glinting on ice, flinty sun. While we PNW-ers do get that occasional glorious winter day where the sun shines for a few hours and temps hover in the 60s, there is no way to get around the fact that the color of the coastal winter sky is a resolute battleship gray. Is it any wonder if you can’t escape for a few weeks in Hawaii, you might make a hobby of drinking your afternoons away?
I took a moment to look up some tips from professionals how to survive a gloomy winter. By now the whole world knows about SAD, which stands for seasonal affect disorder, a debilitating health condition brought on by lack of light. Symptoms of SAD include fatigue, difficulty sleeping, experiencing a lack of focus, muscle and joint pain. Irritability, weight gain, anxiety, and recklessness are associated symptoms. Recklessness can evidence itself through compulsive behaviors, including risky sex, gambling, substance abuse, and thrill seeking.
If you think you might be suffering from SAD, experts recommend investing in a SAD lamp. This is an easy to use light therapy that combats depression. They sell them starting at $39.99 on Amazon. Professionals additionally recommend being active, even if that activity is a half hour walk in the middle of the day. It’s good to get outdoors and breathe in the fresh sea air. Stay warm. Take up a hobby. Eat healthy. Speaking of food, eat oysters. (They’re a natural aphrodisiac and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner anyhow.) Oysters, in addition to being pure protein, are a great source of zinc and vitamin B12. Zinc helps the body fight stress and is essential to the part of the brain that regulates mood and memory.
Why wait? Hurry over to Screw n’ Brew and have a round of oyster shooters.