Over the years, I’ve had to adopt or even create new habits to get me over life situations that otherwise were real deal breakers. There’s a reason why I do certain things at certain times of the year, and while it might be boring to read an itemized list, I’ll cover a few briefly.
It won’t shatter anyone’s perception of me to learn that I get a nasty seasonal affect disorder around the end of January. Fall is OK, and through December, I keep occupied with holidays. But I’ve run out of steam in the middle of January. Although the days are slowly starting to get longer, it isn’t till February that I can see it. This is the time that habits come to my rescue. I spend time with pencil and paper planning new projects for the carving shop, reading seed catalogs, and planning the garden. As soon as the sap starts flowing, I prepare my tapping equipment for collecting maple sap for syrup.
I’ve developed these annual habits for coping with the New England winter. Born a city boy in New York City, they were not things I learned growing up. We had no garden there, and maple syrup came out of a glass bottle. We were steadfast urbanites. But when I moved to Coastal New England, I realized that some of the older folks I met did know a thing or two about getting through winter. I learned to cut, stack, and burn wood for heat, plan my garden, and to tap maples for sap.
Without these habits, I’d get tetchy, irritated, depressed, and probably go looking for a fracas. My wife, children, and pets understand that I am a creature of habit during the winter. In the morning, if you see me before coffee, you might wonder what woodland beast was loosed in the house. Without my winter habits, I’m just not sure anyone could live with me during the winter.