With Daylight Savings Time now at an end [are we on Daylight WASTING Time now?] the mornings are slightly brighter than they have been for a while. In fact, the Reflecto-Vest may have been a touch superfluous on my first run of the season in long pants this weekend, but it DID manage to provide a bit of extra comfort when some pretty stiff breezes kicked up. This won’t last long, I know, and soon it will be just as dark and starry when I come home from my Pre-Dawn Patrol as it will be when I take off.
Sunset is dropping earlier now, too. Monday, sunset was at 4:52PM … right around the time that I left work for the day.
The shortening of the days is kicking off people’s concerns about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
“Anyone else a sufferer? Looking back, it's been a factor for about five years now and it gets worse every year. Since realizing that my, uh, issues are seasonal, I've taken steps to mitigate it as much as possible - medication, sunlight exposure, exercise, etc., but it still is a factor about half the time, mostly manifesting as insomnia. It does wonders for my exercise regimen, allowing me to get to the gym very early and get that done, but it certainly takes a toll.”
Personally, I LIKE this cold, dark, cloudy, grey, rainy time of year. It’s not at all because – perhaps – under this easygoing surfer/runner persona lurks a gloomy, murky, angst-ridden soul. Just because I was born on Halloween, doesn’t mean I’m all about Death and Doom. Sure, when I met D’Wife, my wardrobe was pretty monochromatic [black, mostly, but also, “slate” and “charcoal”], but that was a club-land sort of Fashion Requirement / Uniform.
I like this time of year; it energizes me, if anything else, for two simple and semi-selfish reasons:
First of all, the dreary weather presents a wonderful challenge for me as a runner. To get up, before Sunrise, and go out for a few miles when it’s definitely cold, possibly foggy and very likely raining, maybe even snowing, is a true measure of what kind of a Zen-Core Dork I really am. That being said, there are athletes whom I can’t even BEGIN to aspire to, in terms of getting out and performing in ultra-nasty conditions …
Great Lakes Surfers
As documented in the film “Unsalted” [one of my favorite surf movies, BTW] these dudes go out when the air temp is below 20° and the water is just above freezing, usually with a pretty stiff wind, besides. Granted, Jersey surfers are just as hardcore, and we are FINALLY starting to get the recognition we deserve, but whenever I think that the weather is just too nasty for a run, it’s those guys & gals out on Lake Superior of whom I remind myself. Suddenly, things feel pretty sunny in comparison. I often find myself looking at the overnight weather reports and smiling when I see “Chance of Precipitation: 80%”
Soup for breakfast!!!
Or … my second reason for loving this waning time of the year: dark beers.
I’ve said before that I like to vary my “menu” by the season depending on the weather; “Example: Hefeweizens are only served when it’s 80° outside or warmer [preferably after cutting the grass]; stouts & porters are for 30-40° and overcast/rainy days.”
To me, nothing is more satisfying, more rewarding after a sloppy ride through the woods on a foggy afternoon or a drenching trot between football games, than a nice cool [not COLD] dark beer. Not a terribly strong one, mind you … not necessarily one whose name begins with “Old” … just something with enough kick to gently warm you back up, and enough toasty chocolate flavor in there to make you believe that you’re snacking on a post-workout cookie.
These elements blend wonderfully in Edmund Fitzgerald Porter by Great Lakes Brewing Co. There are three ships that are at the top of the Pop Culture regatta by virtue of being immortalized in song: the Titanic, the Minnow, and the Edmund Fitzgerald. In fact, in this week’s Social Studies lesson, D’Kid’s teacher found the video on YouTube and played it for the class on their SmartBoard … I found this rather amazing, since the song is probably older than Mrs. McNulty herself.
This was a most excellent choice for the season’s first dark beer. It is CocaCola-ish in color and capped with a sturdy creamy brown head. It brings the flavor of a chocolate almond biscotti dunked in iced mochaccino. It's not very strong [only 4.7% ABV] so you could easily put a couple away while waiting for your fingers & toes to thaw after a brilliantly inclement adventure.
No, I’m not so concerned about another bout of SAD this year. I’m looking forward to some nice sloppy runs and rides then enjoying some refreshing dark brews afterwards. There is no sinking feeling here, my friends; no storms, no shoals, no anchors, no negativity.
At this juncture, I’m positive-ly buoyant.
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