Back to Nature (Published on - March 16, 2005)
Dream with me of spring
Photo by Rick Tremmel
The monarch butterfly lays her eggs under the leaves of host plant butterfly milkweed – Asclepias tuberosa L.
Are you hungry or finding it hard to sleep? Are you feeling depressed but can’t seem to find any reason for it? You may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I think there must be a lot of bear spirit in me because each winter as spring nears I get restless, crave comfort foods and on occasion and for no apparent reason, feel blue. I’ll be glad when the sun doesn’t set at 6:36 in the evening.

It happens every year like this and I guess I’m not alone because since the 1980s researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health began to call this “feeling” SAD.

“Every year, people who suffer from SAD experience a predictable pattern: the downturn typically begins as daylight hours dwindle in the fall; symptoms become more severe in January or February, and then symptoms lift as the Vernal Equinox approaches ... In people who suffer from SAD, the short daylight hours of winter seem to play havoc with the body’s clock, somehow upsetting their circadian or normal biological rhythms that influence sleepiness, hunger and other physiological and psychological functions.” (

March 20, the sun enters the sign of Aries and spring begins: the Spring or Vernal Equinox. On the first Sunday, April 3, Daylight Saving Time gives us another hour in the evening to soak up some sun. Fall Back – Spring Forward. The purpose of Daylight Saving Time is to offset peak power usage times.

There’s purpose and benefit to our earth for these bureaucratic changes, but my body still says it feels “unnatural.” I can’t get used to it. In spite of enclosed environments of artificial light, electrically engineered man-made heating and magical cooling systems, we still need the warmth of nature’s sun. We are governed by the tides. We are regulated by the seasons. We are human, hunters and gatherers, attuned to the light of the natural day.

The winter has been long. I need to sit under a tree and listen to the bees gather nectar from the blossoms. I need to know winter will be over soon. I need to see spring flowers and hope. I need to see the Monarch butterfly lay new eggs bringing the promise of a new future. I need to canoe with my canine buddy and watch the sun set at 9. I recall my mother used to say, “The darkest hour is just before dawn.” So let us sit around the table as friends. Please pass me another cup of that thick coffee there, Ardy. Latch the door and poke a stick at the fire’s embers. Share with me a winter story. Celebrate this long dark night full of stars and honor Mother Earth while dreaming with me of spring back to nature.

• Saturday, March 19: Lake Seminole Park Restoration Project: Lake Seminole Park – Pond 4 Volunteers are needed to install 3,000 native plants. Call Debbie Chayet at 464-5111.

• Sunday, March 20, at 7:33 a.m. Spring Equinox – Traditional Sun/Earth Day

Karen can be reached at

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