Wednesday, 27 February 2013


Talking about the weather is more often than not seen as an ice breaker and a way to fill a few moments of awkward silence, “Hi, how’s it going? …Isn’t it a lovely/awful day!...” and so on. We’ve all been there. But I actually disagree that it’s a boring and banal topic of conversation; the weather, for me, is hugely important to my energy and state of mind. Last week was cold in Paris and yet the days were bright and sunny and I had an extra spring in my step as I walked along. I could smell spring’s approach and was already planning the photos I would take of the cherry blossoms in a Boulogne park. This week, in contrast, has been dreary and miserable, with rain, sleet, snow and overcast, leaden skies. On Saturday I did make a half-hearted effort with my camera but it wasn’t only the photos that were dark and gloomy. The sun disappeared behind the clouds and took my good humour with it – what a difference a week makes. Trips to BBC Weather and did nothing to improve my mood and as I caught myself peering out of the windows in work, scanning the sky for the slightest stripe of sunlight, I realised I was in the grips of SAD.

I tend to bandy the term around flippantly, “yes I have SAD”. I like that the disorder is so aptly named and let’s face it, SAD sums up the feelings so much more accurately than the words it stands for: Seasonal Affective Disorder. But having done a bit of research this evening, it turns out that SAD is much more serious than glum frustration and can actually produce symptoms similar to those of depression. It can also occur in spring, summer and autumn, though light is often the cause, which explains why a proportion of the population in most sunlight-starved Scandinavian countries has a propensity towards winter’s depression. From a physiological perspective, sunlight contains vitamin D and boosts serotonin, which our bodies crave, though I’m not sure this is at the root of serious cases of SAD or mild cases of the winter blues. 

Sunlight is simply synonymous with happiness and the good things in life, a metaphor for hope and a new dawn. The sun is holidays over work; long days over short; warmth over cold; colour over black and white. Nicer photographs! But for now we are abandoned…

Up in the mornin', out on the job
Work like the devil for my pay
But that lucky old sun has nothin' to do
But roll around heaven all day

So as I wait for it to roll back to Paris I will console myself with some of my favourite sunlit photos…

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