by Tom Sims
Maybe they are the blues, and maybe they are the “blah”s. Whatever you call them, there is something about a let-down, a bit of cold, fog cover, and January itself that make the Central Valley the least attractive time of year for many. I almost shunned the opportunity to move here twenty-seven years ago because I came to explore in the mid-winter, specifically, January.
Christina Rosetti entitled one her masterpieces, In the Bleak Midwinter.
There is a scientific explanation for some of this. Sensory Affective Disorder is a condition where deprivation of light is cited as a potential cause of depression. It is sometimes treated with artificial light and other aids to bring the body and environment into healthy circadian rhythms.
Another cause is the let-down from the excitement, decorations, sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the holidays. Along with that, disappointment over unmet expectations as well as sadness for those who have been lost to death and separation. There is more time spent inside, especially during rainy days like we have been experiencing in the Valley. There is sickness, isolation, little things like trees having lost their leaves.
How do you beat it all?
If you are a person of faith, you might investigate the religious calendar of your particular tradition. For instance, in Christianity, at the close of the Twelve Days of Christmas, there is the season of Epiphany which lasts until Lent. It is a deeply meaningful and reflective time with its own symbols, meditations, and music.
Spiritual traditions recognize the cycles of life and move with their rhythms.
Another strategy would be to drive to the edge of town, just close enough to get a view of the snow-covered hills and park. While parked, just take in the magnificence of the Sierra.
Check out the arts opportunities in the greater Fresno area and make sure to check Reedley, Visalia, and Hanford as well.
Do not neglect City College. fresnocitycollege.edu/campus-life/events-and-places/performing-arts/index.html and other community colleges, Fresno Pacific University fresno.edu/arts, Fresno State University calendar.fresnostate.edu/, Selland Arena, Saroyan Theater concertfix.com/concerts/fresno-ca+saroyan-theatre-at-fresno-convention-center, and other venues.
Sign up for a community education course through Fresno Unified or Clovis Unified school districts or any of the districts that have adult education. These are short courses on a variety of interesting subjects.
Join the Fresno Folklore Society and get on their mailing list. The next big event is the John McCutcheon Concert 2023, January 12, 7:30 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, 2672 E Alluvial Ave, Fresno, CA 93720, USA. McCutcheon is one of America’s premier folk artists and his concerts are always lively and deep.
Fresno Arts Council posts a long list of local events on their website. The council manages ArtHop and produces and consults on public art activities for the City and County of Fresno. They are currently promoting the Philip Lorenz International Keyboard Concerts as it presents Anne-Marie McDermott with works by Haydn and Schubert Sunday, January 8 at 3 p.m., in the Concert Hall at Fresno State. More information and tickets at keyboardconcerts.org.
For a catch-all of events, connect to the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau calendar at visitfresnocounty.org/events/calendar-of-events.
If you are not into events, how about a reading resolution? Grab a new book on paper or Kindle and head to a coffee shop on a dreary day. Or go to the library.
You could start writing your book or painting your landscape or even your room. You could begin a new hobby or craft. You could develop a new recipe. You could experiment with new ways to brew coffee. You could also make a list of things other people could do and start adding to it. Then you might even consider journaling. If you do not know what to write about, write about how you do not know what to write about. Or you could write about how bad you feel until you start feeling better.
Don’t forget to exercise, sleep adequately, and eat a healthy diet. Many health advocates promote seasonal eating for health and well-being. healthline.com has a helpful article on this.
Garden. Spring planting for Fresno starts, for some crops, in February. Now is a good time to begin planning, visiting nurseries, laying out your beds and raised structures, and getting everything ready. Check the almanac. Cooperative Extension and Master Gardener seminars start in January.
Here is another project: Plan a social media live or virtual get-together with people you have never met in person or even over Zoom. You could meet at a local coffee shop or lunchroom. You could even do something smaller by meeting one social media friend a week for the next couple of months.
Then you could park your car in a walkable neighborhood you have never explored and just take a walk. Sure, you could walk a trail, too. That would be just as fun.
Take Amtrak to Hanford. Walk to Superior Dairy. Eat ice cream. Walk it off. Come home.
Explore the flower gardens on median strips in shopping malls.
Make a friend.
Discover and photograph the wildlife in your yard.
Explore the alleys in your town.
Drive up the Grapevine with fresh eyes and an open mind.
Start a “101 Ways to Cook and Egg” Journal.
Look down below your feet and tell me what you see.
Start a new home renovation project.
By now, you probably get the point that there is enough to keep you busy, get you excited, and engage your mind to help you beat the blues. Maybe you could send comments with your own ideas.
Whatever you do, remember that sometime in February, the blossoms start blooming and hints of Spring begin to emerge in our beautiful Valley. That’s when I fell in love with Fresno, and it has always carried me through to the next season.
Make notes, write paragraphs, take videos and pictures, and send me your thoughts. Let’s make a book of it together
Stay in touch: linktr.ee/tomsims