Here in the UK the country’s population is breathing a collective sigh of relief at the sight, for the second day running, of the sunshine. We might even be daring to imagine that spring is finally here.
It’s been a long, cold winter, on the back of last year’s long wet spring, summer and autumn. We Brits are struggling.
Personally I’ve noticed a much lower mood, and a craving for all sorts of food I really ought to avoid. Comfort eating, someone called it when I mentioned it to some friends yesterday, and we all nodded in earnest agreement. Seasonal Affective Disorder has been long recognised as a medically diagnosed ailment. Rarely before has it been possible to perceive some of the symptoms in the entire population. I’ve even been wondering whether the travel companies have inflated their prices to cash in on Brits desperate to get to the sunshine whatever the cost.
Don’t get me wrong. We Brits love talking about our awful weather. As much as we say it’s awful, we really love it because of the opportunities it affords us to complain. And complaining is one of the primary ways that We Brits engage with one another. In fact a few years ago I read a book by a social anthropologist named Kate someone who asserted that in order to be socially acceptable We Brits are obliged to agree with one another’s weather-based exchanges and observations. Even if the sun is shining gloriously, if someone says to a Brit “there’s a chilly wind though isn’t there?” We are honour-bound to agree. Woe betide anyone to dispute at this juncture the chilly wind in favour of the glorious sunshine. You couldn’t possibly say “Actually I hadn’t noticed the wind – I was too busy enjoying the sunshine.” You’d be ostracised.
But despite all this I think our relationship with the weather has gone a step too far this past 12 months. We’ve moved on from despising the weather just for the sake of social engagement, and have been stuck with weather so despicable that we’ve partially abandoned interaction altogether.
And now the sun’s out and, as one of my recent journaling workshop participants pointed out, we can finally see shadows. It’s wonderful to rediscover light and shade instead of just constantly being surrounded by gloom.
So today I’ve made a special commitment to make the most of the sun, and to be grateful for every opportunity to soak it up. For there’s another thing We Brits are fond of saying when the sun shines: “There’s nowhere like this country when the weather’s nice.” Just don’t mention the chilly wind.