Friday, November 12, 2010

Why I Bite & Snap

The weather is dreary in eastern South Dakota this week. It’s not bad for November, I guess—40-degree days, 20-degree nights. But after a bright, mild beginning to November, the last couple days have been grey and drizzly. There’s a damp chill in air that smells a lot like winter. Our neighbors are almost done harvesting, which means the landscape is mostly brown & beige. Toss stupid daylight savings time into the mix, and my circadian rhythms are playing “Wipe Out.”

Seriously. I crawl out at 5:30 a.m. in total darkness, desperate for coffee. I drag myself through the day, staying conscious with various combinations of more coffee, dark chocolate, jumping jacks (yes, sometimes in the middle of a class) and FOX news (my incredulity at the stuff they say keeps my heart pounding). Then, around 5:30 p.m., when the peacocks head for their backyard roosting tree because it’s already dark again, I’m either drifting off in my Lazy Girl, slumped over & drooling on a stack of essays I should be grading, or waking with a start to the thud of my Kindle on the floor. These cold, wet, dark-to-dark days are like half all gas-lampy Little House on the Prairie, and half 30 Days of Night. I’m sprouting fangs…and a bonnet.

I hauled the houseplants back in for the winter, and the greenhouse is packed to the gills. I’m hoping the extra oxygen will keep me from slipping into a two-shallow-breaths-a-minute coma. When I can stay awake, I’ve been knitting cowls, comforted by the idea of pulling something warm & fuzzy up over my face to shield my pasty skin and pale Gollum eyes from the light.
The pheasant hunters are out in force, which means the peaflock (final count this year is 18) sticks close to the house and whines for corn. I regularly stop hunters to explain how similar peafowl and wild turkeys can look from a distance. And in spite of our attempts at aversion therapy, the flock has decided that yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Clause, and he came early to leave a lovely new pergola perch.

I’ve been working like a dawg this semester (maybe it only SEEMS harder due to my autumnal lethargy), and I'm a little overwhelmed by the upcoming convergence of the end of the semester and the holidays. The prospect makes me even more desperate to fatten up on blueberries, floured honey biscuits and bison jerky and “take to my bed” until spring. I’ll gladly be a front-runner in the evolutionary adaptation for human hibernation in climates with changing seasons; I’m pretty sure living off fat stores for a couple months would be totally worth the deep, peaceful, sensory-deprived sleep.