Time To Hibernate

Posted on October 26, 2010

I am really annoyed with myself for not going out and about for half an hour yesterday to take some photos in around Basingstoke that made it look like Boston, New England during the fall. The sky was an azure blue that showed the Autumn leaves out in all their glory, it was a wonderful sight, but the only picture I got was the one below which I took just outside Silchester on my mobile phone. Sorry to my friends in Aus for letting you down.

The high pressure that has dominated our weather in recent weeks has now collapsed under the weight of the milder but wetter and windier westerlies which will abruptly bring the leaves down and transform our colourful Autumn in to bleak Winter. It is, at this time of year that the Dormice, Hedgehogs, and Bats (the only UK mammals that fully hibernate) curl up and go in to a metabolic stupor until the middle of April next year. Looking out of my window I feel like doing the same.

Whilst humans do not go in a metabolic stupor (unless you include a Sunday morning after a heavy Saturday night) we certainly do go in to a period of semi hibernation when you think about it. We wear more clothes, turn on the heating, eat more stews and casseroles, and we tend to put on weight and spend more hours cuddled up inside. This is because the temperature has dropped, days are shorter and any sunshine on offer is pretty weak.

Of course one of the more severe affects in this period of climate change is the condition SAD (Seasonal affected disorder) which can affect up to 10% of the population in the UK and 20% in Ireland with varying degrees of depression ranging from general lethargy, to a development of Bipolar or manic depression which is pretty worrying stuff not to be taken lightly, and not something someone can just “Snap out of”. So if someone tells you that they are suffering and being treated for SAD don’t laugh them out of the room, there is a good chance they have problems that are very real, and they will need a sympathetic ear, not a piss take, however tempting it may seem.

SAD is, as you would expect, more prevalent the further north you head in the winter months, and the Nordic countries such as Finland (the supposed capital of European suicide) are particularly badly effected as a result of seeing barely no sunlight whatsoever. But here is a startling fact. The nation of Iceland hardly has any cases of SAD, and it was also found that Canadians of Icelandic descent are also seemingly immune to this condition. It was originally thought that this must have been a quirk in statistics or something in the Icelandic gene pool, however, It has more recently been suggested that this may be attributed to the large amount of fish traditionally eaten by Icelandic people, 225 lb per person per year as opposed to about 50 lb in the US Canada and Europe, rather than to genetics. Fish is high in vitamin D and also contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA),which has been shown to help with a variety of neurological dysfunctions. Check these facts out properly though, as I am no psychologist.

I get a bit low at this time of year, the prospect of many days like today does not excite me, but I have quite liked the last couple of winters with the frost and snow. This is probably because cold winters generally feature high pressure and consequently more sunshine hours. A walk across crunchy ground on a sunny frosty morning is far more appealing than a traditional British winters day of rain, mud and little sunshine, and unlike Finland or Norway even on the really cold days in England, modern clothing can keep us warm enough to venture out for some sledging. In Finland, one step out of the front door can result in your nose snapping off, that won’t happen in England (unless you are Kerry Katona).

Right off to get some dinner now……………..Mackerel, Salmon and Kipper stew tonight followed by a sunbed session down the Gym!!!

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