Oh January,

…with your wan light and heavy skies.  I’m thinking of making some potato salad and grilled hot dogs today just to mock you.  I’m done with the broken eave outside my bedroom window spilling its contents onto the cold concrete below like a westernized version of Chinese water torture. And with trying to warm my soul on hearty root vegetables and chai tea.  My pink and black hooded leopard print rain coat, the one that seemed so cheerfully suited to west coast winters, now hits me like a visual assault. Where are my flip flops?  Where is the sun? Where are the robins? Whence cometh Spring?!

I can almost hear the voice of wizened relative (someone else’s, mine all lament January too) chiding, “Don’t wish your life away, dear.” That’s true of course.  But I feel duped. January arrives with all the pomp and pageantry of King Louis XIV at the French Court. And to be fair, Christ and Santa have just arrived and departed the same way.  Bells and clackers, gifts and wrappings, confetti and champagne, new plans and promise ~ and one week later, this.  If any time of year messes with my brain chemicals, this is it.  I think every ounce of dopamine and serotonin in my body empties out through the soles of my feet and is washed away in the deluge.  I used to think retirees heading to Florida to winter were kind of cheesy. Now I get it.  Better a garish Hawaiian shirt than bare feet in wet keds.

Yesterday, determined to challenge the suffocating grey, I headed out to my favourite local produce farm/market. Ooooo, disappointment awaited.  The parking lot was deserted, the colourful bins of apples, peppers and oranges were gone.  The market was closed for the season. Undeterred, (desperate, actually) I took a quick right to very beautiful, always open, ridiculously expensive Mennonite market on the Number 7.  I live in the Fraser Valley, the bible belt of British Columbia.  Rich Mennonite farmers abound, which is an irritation that comes with the territory.  When we first moved here, a friend and I had a jolly time in her car belting out a robust, original tune, “Welcome to the bible belt my friend! Welcome to the bible belt! I’m gonna hit you with my big King James, and give you a nasty welt!”   I don’t mean to sound bitter, but like I said, my brain chemicals are a bit off at the moment.

Switching gears, I’ve been doing some reading recently on travel writing, specifically Tim Leffel’s, Travel Writing 2.0. , Diane Jacob’s, Will Write for Food, and National Geographic articles.  I stole the syllabus from a UBC course on Travel and Food Writing, bought the textbooks and saved the five hundred and fifty bucks to actually  travel and write. I was looking this morning at some of my paraphrased notes on why we write about our lives and journeys, “We write so the world becomes infused with a little more appreciation, a little more open mindedness, a little more kindness with every story… The ultimate potential of great travel storytelling and the sacred mission we storytellers share is to make us all think how big the world is and give us all a kind of hope.”  

Okay.  With that in mind, let me show you  instead how an (albeit overpriced) boutique foodie market in the heart of the Fraser Valley flipped the switch on my (bastard) brain chemicals (however temporarily) in spite of the West Coast drizzle. (As you can tell by my parenthetic notes, brain chemicals are wily things.)

I’m a sucker for beauty, even overpriced Mennonite beauty.  I spent an hour taste testing locally sourced gourmet products, secretly snapping pics with my Iphone and collecting inspiration for my next Superstore grocery run. I have a theory about gourmet markets ~ visit them like you would an art gallery.  Take it all in, gaze at the offerings like rare masterpieces, then go buy the print online, frame it nicely and hang it on your wall as a reminder of the experience.  Don’t, for god’s sake, pay $4.99 for a pound of multi-coloured cauliflower. (as I did, ha.) Unless of course, the dopamine hit will keep you off SSRI’s for another week.  In that case, buy several pounds.

At last count, 51 days, 4 hours, 42 minutes and 34 seconds left until Spring.
Til then, happy dopamine hunting.



One thought on “Oh January,

  1. Ah yes, the grey weather. This is my first winter in the Okanagan, and I have to say, grey in not my favourite colour. Yikes. However, I did see robins last weekend. Lots of them. And frankly, the sun might be shining in Alberta, but there won’t be any robins for another two months. Poor suckers would freeze to the tree branches. 🙂

    Eat lots of veggies, take your vitamin D and go see the Mennonites more often. 😉

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