Something about me that you are probably well aware of (as I spout off about it every chance I can) is my all-consuming hatred of winter. I abhor the short days of fragile sunlight trying to trickle through the clouds and fog, of the snow falling all around, of the dead trees caked in ice and white, looking like some kind of horrible powdered sugar disaster gone awry, and worst of all is the unyielding chill. I just cannot tolerate the cold, I even wear sweaters in the summer because I’m always freezing. I’ve tried everything to overcome this hatred, but I just can’t help it. I’ve often said that I’m a native-born Floridian, even though I’m not, but the basic idea behind the statement is true.
Every year I wonder, with a look of abject horror mingled with disgust on my face, why my family continues to willingly exist in this zone of meteorological extremes. If it isn’t the daily blizzard in the winter, it’s the tornadoes that threaten to destroy everything you own every night in spring. I would almost kill to be in a hurricane, if that meant that I could stay on past hurricane season on Florida’s Gulf Coast basking in the heat, it has to be less dramatic than a tornado with all the idiots running outside with camcorders. I’ll never understand that: you’re in an incredibly deadly storm, yet you want to take a picture that could kill you? I kick myself for not forcing the family to buy property in the South after land and home prices collapsed after hurricanes destroyed several cities. (It might not be ethical, but it is cheap.)
This winter has been exceptionally brutal, I know that we all say that about every passing winter, but this one is just particularly awful. For some reason, Iowa is being attacked, and I think that every flake of snow that has fallen this year has fallen into my backyard. I see pictures of places not more than a hundred miles from here and there isn’t a snow drift to be found, I am consumed with jealousy when I see Martha Stewart’s farm, unburdened by the snow, I can hardly stand to breathe when I see anything reminiscent of warmth.
I’m writing a book at the moment that is set in a warm climate, and I have noticed that in my writing I am constantly making note of how warm the locale is, how bright the sun is, how high the humidity is, as if I could somehow convince myself that I were living the life of my main character in the South of France during the 1950s, but all it takes is a trip past the large window of the parlor to remind me that I am in a desert of snow, not on one of the most tranquil natural harbors in the world.
This year, I decided that I should do something about this loathing of the Winter as it really messes up my life. I sleep longer than I want, when I wake up I feel vaguely as if it isn’t worth getting out of bed, I’m distracted easily and oftentimes exhausted for no reason, I feverishly look at the weather forecast seeing if perhaps there will be a sunny day or if the temperature will rise above thirty. I plan my days around those days, only to be terribly disappointed when the sun doesn’t shine and the temperature drops and there is instead of sunshine, another blizzard.
Ever since I heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I self-diagnosed myself as one of the most suffering of all of its victims. I went to the library and checked out for myself Seasonal Affective Disorder for Dummies, which offended me slightly, the series does as a whole, I don’t feel that those reading the books are dummies, but rather curious. Dummies wouldn’t be interested enough in a subject to pick up a book on it let alone read it.
After completing the oftentimes dull book, I realized that I didn’t really suffer from SAD at all, just the “Winter Blues,” which is like SAD only much less severe. I never knew that people suffered feelings like mine, only to a degree I couldn’t fathom and still be living.
Even though I didn’t have SAD, I still hate winter, and the book offered solutions. The most logical for me, since there is no way in hell I am going jogging outside until it is at least fifty degrees out, was to get a light box. This is basically nothing more than a extremely bright lamp that simulates sunlight. I was delighted by this and quickly got onto Amazon to order myself one, but was taken back by the ridiculously high prices for nothing more than a fancy lightbulb.
And so my suffering continued and I endured it. Then, one day by chance, I rediscovered a wonderful product that I had been curious about for years: the AeroGarden. There is a website called www.AeroGardenOutlet.com which sells AeroGardens usually at half the price just due to cosmetic issues. I picked up a white AeroGarden 3 for $30 plus shipping. Within a week it was sitting on my plant stand in the parlor looking futuristic and strange, not fitting in at all with the antiquated decor that fills the room.
I was incredibly skeptical by the device, having no real experience with hydroponic gardening, I had no idea how the device worked. I watched the little seed domes for two days, seeing nothing but thoroughly saturated rockwool, and then, the seeds sprouted. From the day they sprouted, they shot out of their little pods like bats out of hell, flying upwards at a pace I never expected. I had more basil than I knew what to do with, thyme cascaded over the water bowl, chives shot vertically with no intention of stopping. I was dazzled by the fact that it worked so well, and I was in heaven using fresh herbs. I hate to buy them at the grocery store because they are so expensive, you hardly get any, and they are already past their prime, but with the AeroGarden, I have more than I’ll ever use and I love it.
I loved the economics of the machine and the aesthetic beauty of it, but it had other benefits that I never expected, it made me hate winter just a little bit less. The combination of the living plants constantly reminding me that spring was just a few moments away — that winter will fade until I hardly remember it, and the almost obnoxiously bright grow lights made me feel alive again. I guess it works in a way that a light box would, providing synthetic sunlight, which is not only good for me, but for the plants as well.
I was so charmed, so delighted, that I immediately hurried over to the AeroGarden Outlet again and bought an AeroGarden 6 SpaceSaver Elite. The savings on this were truly remarkable, and within a week, it was sitting on my piano, brightly illuminating the room. In this garden I planted flowers as I love them dearly. The flowers were a bit more finicky than the herbs. Four out of six are growing wonderfully, but two of them are looking pretty pathetic and ill. The snapdragons grew so quickly that I think they are blocking the light of the others. Hopefully in the next few weeks they will burst into bloom–and I can keep the cat out of it. He loves plants!
So, it is less than two months until the official start of spring, and I’m very excited for that, but then again, there is a blizzard planned for tonight and the rest of the week, but maybe I’ll be able to deal with it if I go sit in front of the Aerogarden for awhile reading a book or typing out an email or two.
Another great feature of AeroGarden is that there is a bit of light that spills over the edges and even in the middle of the garden itself. When the other plants were well established I put a cotton ball in a NyQuil cup and started a few seeds in them. I am growing my favorite plant of all time: Sensitive Plant, which curls up when you touch it or blow on it. I am growing a Christmas tree, and an avocado tree, which is looking really neat. I’ll have to put it in a pot this spring and maybe someday soon, I’ll have a fresh avocado. One can only hope.