A Case Of The Winter Blues

Man, not only did I wake up feeling kind of blue on the 15th of February, several hours later my funk was still hanging around. Knowing that I needed to take some action I picked up the phone to call my psychiatrist, Dr. R. U. Forereel. But a second later I thought better of it, because, after all the many years that I’ve been spilling out my guts to her, I knew what she would say.

“Are you for real, Neil?” Dr. Forereel would have replied to my explanation of the situation. “Why are you wasting my time over such a trivial matter? Everybody gets the blues now and then. Get off your scrawny rump, Neil, and go for a walk. That’s all you need to do to start feeling better.” And then she’d have hung up abruptly. And, hopefully, would not have sent me a bill for the brief phone session.

Yeah, the first half of February, blessing my part of the globe (I live near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) with lots of snow, ice and cold temperatures, was a big pain. Having lived with those kinds of conditions for most winters of my life, I’m used to them. And, normally, I grin and bear them.

This year, though, slowly but surely winter’s assaults got to me, and I became symptomatic on the 15th. Seeing that my usual morning activities (drinking coffee, doing sudoku puzzles and scratching my balls) weren’t dissipating the blues at all, I decided to take the advice that Dr. Forereel would have offered. Thus, at around 10:30 I bundled up real good. Then I fired up an episode of The Many Moods Of Ben Vaughn, an excellent music podcast, on my phone, stuck earbuds in my ears and headed out the door to stroll around my suburban winter wonderland.

Wonderland? Nah, anything but. Sure, everything looked nice and idyllic right after the first of several snowstorms in early February. But, by February 15th, examples of beauty in my neighborhood were few and far between. That was only to be expected, of course, as snow plows had done their thing two or three times, piling ungainly mounds of snow and ice along the sides of every street. And sidewalk and driveway shoveling had added to the mess. An exception was the Willow Grove Bible Church, which was a pretty charming sight. Overall, though, I gave a rating of anywhere from meh to crap to just about every scene that met my eyes.

Plus, the grey skies weren’t doing anything to lift my spirits either. Ben Vaughn, on the other hand, was. I’ve written about Ben before. Each episode of The Many Moods contains an impressive mixture of musical genres. As I strode along my neighborhood’s blocks on the 15th, the tunes that poured through my earbuds improved my mood. Especially, by far, the hard-rocking ones. In fact, when I’d left the house I instinctively knew that in-your-face drumming was what I was in need of. Fortuitously, during the first 20 minutes of Ben’s show I heard three songs that featured such. They put pep and purpose into my steps. They got my juices flowing. No doubt it would be a good idea now for me to present them. Here then, via YouTube, are rad rockers by Mott The Hoople (“All The Way From Memphis”), Chuck Berry (“Almost Grown”), and Nick Lowe (“Half A Boy And Half A Man”). My humble story continues below them.

But you know what? The uplifting effects of my 45-minute walk didn’t have staying power. When I arrived back home I was feeling no more than 30% better than I did when I began the trek. Shit, it was just one of those days. I suppose that the pandemic was feeding my blues too. My wife and I, like just about everybody, have been limited in our activities since coronavirus reared its ugly head last year. But at least we were able to eat outdoors at restaurants and entertain friends outdoors at our home when the weather was decent.

We can’t do the same when it’s cold outside. And, because we are cautious when it comes to the virus, indoor dining and indoor entertaining definitely are off our schedules. What a drag, drag, drag.

Anyway, I’m a sucker for happy endings. They sure as hell make life seem better. And I’m going to present one to you. Yes, for reasons unclear to me, my skies began to brighten around 5:30 PM on February 15th. And by 7:00 PM I was back to being my normal self. You know, a grumpy, head-halfway-up-his-scrawny-ass septuagenarian. I haven’t always been a septuagenarian, but grumpy and head-halfway-up-his-scrawny-ass have been pretty accurate descriptions of me for years. Yo, nobody’s perfect!

(Please don’t be shy about adding your comments. Gracias.)

137 thoughts on “A Case Of The Winter Blues

  1. Lynette d'Arty-Cross February 25, 2021 / 1:20 am

    I hear you about the covid impatience. I went through a bout of it a couple of days weeks ago. Has calmed down somewhat, but it’s still lurking under the surface.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paddy Tobin February 25, 2021 / 2:30 am

    You need to walk further and listen to more music – if it works, keep doing it. Confinement to home has become an issue here also. We haven’t even been outside for a walk in well over a month. Shopping is delivered and no visitors nor visiting, a life at home. On the positive side, we haven’t killed each other so far and it seems unlikely we will resort to violence, or even nastiness.

    Rather than snow, we have had some weeks of heavy rain – though last Sunday and Monday brought a reprieve – and we have been unable to work in the garden. Gardening is out release from the present situation and we look forward to brighter and drier days when we can do so again.

    In the meantime, continue to beat the drum and pound the keyboard!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 25, 2021 / 12:48 pm

      “On the positive side, we haven’t killed each other so far and it seems unlikely we will resort to violence, or even nastiness.” — Paddy, this is a classic sentence!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 25, 2021 / 12:50 pm

      Hey, Dan. A day or two ago the temps started rising in my region. Lots of melting going on. Hopefully, it won’t snow again till next winter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dan Antion February 25, 2021 / 1:07 pm

        Here, it’s the melting and refreezing overnight that’s driving me crazy. I could be done with snow. We usually get some in March, but it doesn’t hang around very long.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Denise Denton Thiery February 25, 2021 / 7:05 am

    I can definitely relate. I also went for a walk yesterday, earbuds in, hoping to improve my mood. I will try again today. I prefer 60s or 70s classics or “I Heart Radio’s Comedy 24/7.” Continuous bits of various stand-up comedians. You should try it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Robert Parker February 25, 2021 / 7:53 am

    Yep, February has been a crunchy, frozen pain in the nether regions. I prescribe more Nick Lowe. Play “Jumbo Ark” and “I Knew The Bride”!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. J. Kelland Perry February 25, 2021 / 8:29 am

    I’m sure you have lots of company in the blues department these days. Chin up. Listen to more Nick Lowe. His music works wonders for me. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Anonymous February 25, 2021 / 9:25 am

    All the way to Memphis is a great walking song.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Carolina Vann February 25, 2021 / 9:47 am

    You need a friendly dog nearby who likes to walk with you. Sure works for me. Thank you “Buddy” He sure lives up to his name….

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Laurie Graves February 25, 2021 / 10:12 am

    This pandemic weighs heavily on us all. From time to time, especially for those of us who live in the north, we can’t help but get a little discouraged. But take heart! Spring is coming, and vaccinations must be just around the corner for you and your wife, if you haven’t had them already. And Nick Lowe is bound to cheer anyone up.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. talebender February 25, 2021 / 11:05 am

    Loved your ending…..”You know, a grumpy, head-halfway-up-his-scrawny-ass septuagenarian. I haven’t always been a septuagenarian, but grumpy and head-halfway-up-his-scrawny-ass have been pretty accurate descriptions of me for years. Yo, nobody’s perfect!”
    This was a perfect rendering of the pandemic blues, though…..glad you recovered!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Helen Devries February 25, 2021 / 11:20 am

    i like the name of your trick cyclist.
    All is pretty relaxed here…we go shopping, etc, people are good about distance and hand washing, also the wearing of masks, but it is very hard not being able to socialise with friends. I hadn’t realised how important that was to us.
    Glad you recovered your spirits by the evening. Not a good mood to go to bed on.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Helen Devries February 25, 2021 / 1:40 pm

        Over eighties and front line health workers, including care homes, done. They are now doing the over fifty eights, starting last week. Second jabs assured to be on time. Those who are not residents , i.e. not in the national health system, are vaccinated also, according to their age group, they just have to register their existence! All working very well.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Debra February 25, 2021 / 12:19 pm

    Try listening to some zydeco (Buckwheat Zydeco, Rosie Ledet, Rockin’ Doopsie). You’ll see that it’s hard to be sad when your body is moving and grooving to the zesty beat of accordions and washboards.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 25, 2021 / 1:05 pm

      Hey there, Debra. About 5 years ago, Sandy and I went to see CJ Chenier and his band. They were in New Hope. They rocked like crazy. Great show.


  12. Ann Coleman February 25, 2021 / 12:55 pm

    I think Winter, plus the pandemic, has been getting to us all. When the only safe way to have a social life is outside (and thank God we live in a country that allow us to do that….many have banned even outdoor, socially, distant gatherings of people who don’t live in the same household), then the bitter cold is a real problem.

    The vaccines can’t come soon enough. Luckily, my husband was able to get his due to age and cancer, but I’m in the very last group to be eligible. Still, hope is on the horizon and I’m grateful. Glad you were finally feeling better, and hope it warms up for you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 25, 2021 / 3:37 pm

      Hi. The vaccine rollout isn’t going too great in many states. But probably the availability and mechanics of the rollout will be much improved within the next 2 or 3 months.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. JT Twissel February 25, 2021 / 1:56 pm

    We’re actually having very nice weather which is not unusual. Everyone runs to the nursery, buys flowers, seeds, etc and then we get another frost.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 25, 2021 / 3:39 pm

      Greater Philly, where I live, has had highs in the 40s and 50s Fahrenheit the last few days, and that will continue to be the case for at least another week I think. Which is great — I’ve had enough snow.


  14. Martie February 25, 2021 / 2:11 pm

    Love your honesty from someone who is no stranger to the blues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 25, 2021 / 3:42 pm

      Hi Martie, and thanks a lot for stopping by. Much appreciated. You know, I was lucky, because the funk didn’t linger too long.


  15. Donna Cameron February 25, 2021 / 2:36 pm

    Your music picks reminded me of a story, Neil. In the 1970s, when the SETI program launched the Voyager mission to search for extraterrestrial life, they equipped each space capsule with musical selections comprising a sampling of the world’s music. Many countries were represented and lots of stirring music. Included among the 26 pieces selected were Bach, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode, plus music from Japan, Peru, Senegal, Zaire, and many other countries. The story is told that a few years later NASA received a 4-word message from somewhere in space: “Send more Chuck Berry.”
    Hang in there … spring is around the corner—and we’ll always have Chuck Berry.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 25, 2021 / 3:44 pm

      He wrote so many terrific songs. He told detailed, interesting stories in those songs. I think that he’s underappreciated as a songwriter.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. myowncalcuttablog.com February 25, 2021 / 2:51 pm

    Your writing always brings a smile to my face. Glad you’re feeling better. Love the name of your shrink, hahaha!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. stargazer February 25, 2021 / 3:02 pm

    Glad to hear that your skies did brighten in the end. No need for Dr. R. U. Forereel on this occasion! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Rosaliene Bacchus February 25, 2021 / 3:31 pm

    Gray skies does that to my mood. Your photo of the Willow Grove Bible Church is a picture-perfect Christmas greeting card 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 25, 2021 / 4:46 pm

      Greetings, Rosaliene. Probably there have been studies done to examine how the skies affect peoples’ moods. Do people who live under skies that are usually gray get down in the dumps more often that those who live under mostly blue skies?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rosaliene Bacchus February 25, 2021 / 5:15 pm

        An interesting thought. There’s something about a clear blue sky that gives one the impression of limitless possibilities 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Fictionophile February 25, 2021 / 3:44 pm

    It is a ‘blue’ time of year here in Nova Scotia as well. And, you’re right Neil, the pandemic is exacerbating the feeling. I thank you very much for giving me more than one smile with this post. I appreciate your humorous take on the everyday.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. andrewcferguson February 25, 2021 / 4:54 pm

    I hear you, Neil. I went through a similar dip in mood – and a similar set of weather conditions – about the same time. Let’s hope everything is on the up now.

    Liked by 1 person

      • andrewcferguson February 26, 2021 / 1:46 am

        Absolutely! Alison is getting hers today. Mine shouldn’t be far away: this seems to be something the UK has got well organised for once. The Prime Minister is taking all the credit, but it was probably Scotland’s First Minister told hom how to do it.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. JOYCE HAMILTON February 25, 2021 / 6:30 pm

    Always like your music. Hopefully no more snow this winter!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. rkrontheroad February 25, 2021 / 6:53 pm

    Spring comes late where I live and I’m so tired of winter already. A nearby town has a Cabin Fever Dance every year around this time, but of course not this year. I connected with your rant! Getting out and walking/hiking helps. When I go into town, finding a little hello to a friend or two outdoors helps too. Glad you were able to pull yourself out of that funk. I will check out Ben Vaughn!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. sniderjerry February 25, 2021 / 8:06 pm

    There must be something to that walking thing. Just a few minutes ago my wife told me “Take a hike” See you on the road. Jerry

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Fran Johns February 25, 2021 / 10:10 pm

    I get REALLY weird looks from occasional passersby when I’m listening to music like that with earbuds in. As if there’s something wrong with a little old lady jitterbugging on the street corner? Hmpff. Keep on walkin’

    Liked by 1 person

  25. eden baylee February 25, 2021 / 10:12 pm

    Hi Neil,

    You feel what you feel. It’s important to acknowledge we’re all going through some angst, disappointment, fear, sadness. The list goes on …

    I’m glad you’re feeling a bit better. We have longer days with more light, which should help.

    We’re in the worse roll-out province of Canada – Ontario. We’ve been in lockdown since Xmas and won’t be out until March 9 – maybe.

    Life sucks right now, but this too shall change.

    Sending healing energy your way,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 25, 2021 / 11:05 pm

      Hi there. You know, I find it amazing that nearly two months of this year have gone by. Before we know it, spring will be here. Spring is 20 times better than winter.


  26. Alyson February 26, 2021 / 6:03 am

    I think all of us in the Northern hemisphere are feeling the same – A year of the pandemic and the tail end of winter isn’t a good mix for feeling chipper. Cross fingers the blue skies of the coming months will cheer us all up.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. tylerus February 26, 2021 / 1:00 pm

    Wow – I’d completely forgotten about Mott the Hoople. A true blast from the past.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Jacqui Murray February 26, 2021 / 6:29 pm

    I am walking a lot though my poor dog can’t seem to keep up. I’m feeling better about the pandemic though probably because I have 1/2 vaccine shots and scheduled for the last. We’ll see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 26, 2021 / 7:32 pm

      I’m glad to hear you’ve been vaccinated, halfway anyway. I live in Pennsylvania, which so far is screwing up the rollout. I haven’t a clue as to when I’ll get the vaccine.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jacqui Murray February 27, 2021 / 6:10 pm

        California was ranked 50/50 for their vaccine program. None of it makes sense.

        Liked by 1 person

  29. cincinnatibabyhead February 26, 2021 / 8:07 pm

    “Go for a walk”. I was telling a friend of mine about the John Prine walking club (You being a member in good standing). He joined right away. Taking Ben Vaughn with you out for a walk is why you are in the club. And then he spins 3 doozies like that. I went for a beauty this morning. Shit hit the fan and CB headed for the MNT. Man did I feel better when I got back. Both the shit and the fan were gone. Watch that “ball scratching” it’s habit forming.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Americaoncoffee February 27, 2021 / 12:29 am

    LOL! Dr. Forereel ? You should get yourself a Dr. Feel Reel. Sleep is a great escape from boredom. Happy weekend Neil! 🛌💤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 27, 2021 / 8:29 am

      Hi there. Changing the subject a bit: I see that tomorrow is February’s last day. Hard to believe that two months of 2021 already have gone by. See you.


  31. Ken Dowell February 27, 2021 / 11:00 am

    All the leftover decrepit snow’s going to get washed away this weekend. Then we can make a fresh start.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. viewfromoverthehill February 27, 2021 / 11:16 am

    We’ve also been hit with snow here. Yuk! We don’t always get it and our city is ill-prepared for it, so crossing a local street is taking your life into your uncertain hands. Here’s to us all making it. I should be getting my vaccine soon, if I can figure out how. They seem to be keeping that a secret. Is it a plot? Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 27, 2021 / 12:34 pm

      The vaccine rollout is going very poorly in my state. Incompetents seem to be in charge.


  33. selizabryangmailcom February 27, 2021 / 4:13 pm

    Nice ones! (the music). And on other matters…yeah. We all feel ya.

    Here’s one with that kind of drumming you like (one of my only examples that I share with everyone I know). Maybe this’ll put pep in your step too………..

    Liked by 1 person

  34. KT Workman February 27, 2021 / 11:42 pm

    I think this Covid thing is getting the best of a lot of us, especially older people such as me. This not being able to visit with family and friends really sucks. But yesterday, finally, my husband and I got our first shot of the vaccine. I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders, and both Husband and my mood improved—we haven’t growled at each other since we received the shot. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 28, 2021 / 7:12 am

      That’s excellent. From what I read, coronavirus isn’t going to go away. But the vaccines hopefully will help make the situation very manageable.

      Liked by 1 person

  35. carolinehelbig February 28, 2021 / 11:08 am

    Neil, I woke up to a very bleak-looking day, feeling weary about my Groundhog Day kind of existence. Reading about your funk gave me a laugh and has put me in much better mood. Great piece of writing!

    Liked by 2 people

  36. tanjabrittonwriter February 28, 2021 / 11:56 am

    I’m glad you are feeling better, Neil. many of us struggle with sadness if not depression during these times. Let’s hope we will make it through.
    Take care,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 28, 2021 / 4:21 pm

      Well, I’m pretty confident that mass vaccinations will make things significantly better. It will take a while, though, considering the pace at which the vaccine rollout is happening. Have a good week. See ya.

      Liked by 2 people

  37. theburningheart February 28, 2021 / 12:44 pm

    We hear you Neil, after a year of quarantine, isolation, and well honestly, looking at your pictures showing a gray winter landscape, I will not want to have my ass around, regardless of uplifting music, or not!
    Here has being sunny with not a cloud on the sky for over a week, and temperature of high 68F, low 50F, and that low make’s me complain, and be crabby, I only can imagine what all that snow does for you, but I prefer not to, I get goose bumps just thinking about it!
    Maybe it’s time to become a snowbird, a name we give to all the northern, usually elderly people, who shows here, after Thanksgiving day.
    Best wishes to you Neil, keep it up, you always make me laugh. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 28, 2021 / 4:31 pm

      Greetings. Well, the weather has been improving here recently, in the sense that snow is not in the forecast at all. Like lots of people, I’m looking forward to spring. It’s very good to hear from you. Enjoy the upcoming week!

      Liked by 1 person

      • theburningheart March 1, 2021 / 3:55 pm

        Thanks, you too Neil!

        Liked by 1 person

  38. Crystal Byers February 28, 2021 / 1:19 pm

    About a year ago, I didn’t even want to speak the words coronavirus or COVID. Like if I ignored them, they would go away. Now they just amplify everything else. I’m glad to know you have a good doc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 28, 2021 / 4:35 pm

      Yeah, this virus situation is and has been surreal. The vaccines are going to make things a whole lot better. I hope the vaccine rollout is going better in Texas than it is here in Pennsylvania, where the people in charge so far are doing a poor job of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  39. johnlmalone February 28, 2021 / 4:20 pm

    I take it you’re not a big fan of mounds of snow, Neil 🙂 we don’t get snow around here but wouldn’t mind seeing a few hillocks of snow here one winter 🙂 or just a hillock 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 28, 2021 / 5:39 pm

      Freshly fallen snow is beautiful. But, overall, snow is a big nuisance in developed areas such as where I live.

      Liked by 1 person

  40. annieasksyou February 28, 2021 / 4:36 pm

    I like to march around the house while listening to music, but your first two videos didn’t work for me for some reason. (I had a bad techie week, you may recall—but I thought today was a fresh start!) And the third one would have required me to move at a speed that would have unleashed some trapped small animal sounds due to the knee that lacks cartilage. My question: do you keep pace while you’re walking, or is the uplifting a mental thing? If the former, I am most impressed!
    Regardless, I hope the blues remain banished. If the snow melts, can the crocuses be far behind? Oops, bad question. I was born in April during a blizzard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 28, 2021 / 5:45 pm

      You know, many of my walks are in my neighborhood, which was built over several decades on an enormous hill. I try to walk briskly. And when I go uphill on the steepest blocks I get some fairly strenuous exercise.


  41. Joe February 28, 2021 / 6:30 pm

    Your neighborhood looks like a big freezer in need of defrosting, Neil. Hopefully Foreigner’s “Cold as Ice” made the playlist.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. alhenry March 1, 2021 / 6:12 pm

    Your conversation with Dr. Forereel sounds like just about every interaction I’ve had with the medical establishment in the last 20 years, and your photos of suburban Philly look uncannily like Massachusetts, so I sympathize bigtime. Tank tops. Flipflops. Dancin’ in the streets. The crack of the bat–Yankees 8, Phillies 2 (OK, I’m messin’ with you). I feel it. I’ve lived it. But I can’t quite touch it yet. Glad you got the upperhand on your mid-Feb blues. If you hear a loud YELP!, it’s me finally getting a vaccine appointment. Something very strange going on in Massachusetts, but then again, that can probably be said of the entire country. Stay warm. Revel in the happy moments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 1, 2021 / 7:28 pm

      We’ll get vaccinated. Eventually. Right now, though, it sounds like Massachusetts is doing as badly as Pennsylvania in administering the vaccine rollout.

      Liked by 1 person

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