Many years ago I saw a wood carving in a store, and to this day I wish I would have bought it. It was a couple feet tall, and was of a man wearing a heavy parka with the fur lined hood up. The man’s hands were in his pants pockets, and the hood formed a sort of tube, with the face well protected inside. The sculpture was stained with a blue wash reminiscent of deep snow on a cold winter day. Interestingly, the sculpture was named “Winter Blues.”
I have been thinking of that sculpture quiet a bit recently. Winter can be fun, and I can not say I have the blues, but perhaps like you, I have been a long ways from feeling euphoric. Thank goodness the days are getting longer.
The winter blues is a term often used to describe a mild form of depression that affects some people, particularly those that live in northern latitudes. The specifics of the condition are not well known, but the shorter days are thought to influence the amount of melatonin (a hormone linked to depression) and/or serotonin (a brain chemical influencing mood). A more serious condition is called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, which in extreme cases it may be quite debilitating.
Winter blues can also be a reference to the blue tones of winter snow. Mostly we think of snow as being white. But snow often times has definite bluish hues that are hard to describe for us non-artists. As you might expect, the differences are due to the physical properties of snow and light.
Snow is usually white because the snow reflects all the colors of visible light spectrum, (think ROYGBIV). So we see white. However, as the snow gets deeper the physics of light traveling through the snow causes much of the light to be absorbed by the snow. Much of the light reflected back out of the snow is in the blue portion of the spectrum, thus the snow looks bluish.
I suppose there are colors we associate with each season. Summer is certainly green, and the color of fall around here is yellow or gold. I’m not sure what color best describes spring, but the color of winter is white with “the blues.” But please do not think of these blues in terms of depression. Think of them as seasonal paints on Mother Nature’s palate. Those winter blues can be quite interesting, expressive, and scenic.
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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