Friday, January 8, 2010

A Shade of Pale Blue

I have the highest respect for T. S. Eliot, not only for his prodigious talent as a poet, but also for his extraordinary ability to christen cats. However, I have to disagree with him on one fine point. April is quite simply not the cruelest month. Yes, I was born in April, but that fact carries no weight in my argument.

Ask around, especially amongst creative people, and I think you shall find that January is most often the month when ideas tend to stall, the well of inspiration may develop an echo, and the spirit can take on a shade of pale blue. I have always attributed this first month malaise to the shuddering crash down of Christmas. One minute we are living inside a snow globe of lights and festivity, and the next, well, we are not. There are those who will lay blame to the inclement weather, or the mailbox brimming with holiday bills. Others swear the reason lies squarely upon the face of the bathroom scale, a numerical result of the many sweet indulgences of the just departed season. Whatever the reason, once again this January, I have heard from more than the normal number of those who feel a tad blander than usual.

I can assure you that I am not immune. If there is ever a month when I am ripe for melancholy, it is this one. After scaling the mountain of Christmas, with a grin on my face, wooden spoon in my hand, waving red ribbons aloft in the air, I suddenly find myself just a wee bit depleted. But, I know this bad fairy of old. Therefore I make certain my quiver is full of arrows designed to shoot him right out of my house.

Shall I share just a few of my secrets?

1. Head out to the theatre for some escapist movies, and don’t refuse the popcorn. Do remember that these are not the weeks for an Ingmar Bergman film festival. Lighter fare is a must. Perhaps a screening of The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

2. If it is too icy to get out, then television can help, but only if you have something like Doc Martin or Graham Norton - Jeeves and Wooster or Hamish MacBeth. Stay away from those hideous reality shows at all cost. Best idea, rent the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup.

3. Long hot baths - with bubbles galore. The scent of vanilla is highly recommended. The bad fairy hates it.

4. Fill your house with white flowers. I have used this January trick for years. Very effective, it provides such a clean winter feeling after all the riotous colour of Christmas.

5. Seed catalogs, and magazines featuring articles on spring fashions or exotic travel destinations, are by far the best choices for late night reading by the fire, at least for the next few weeks. Having something to look forward to, like peony gardens, white linen blazers, or trips to the seaside, helps to banish the bad fairy every single time.

6. Of course, last but not least, if you are fortunate enough to have two furry dogs who love to take long walks in the cold, then you are one giant step closer to regaining your happier self. There is something to be said for sweet companionship and fresh, icy air. And Edward and Apple would like me to remind you that wonderful, furry dogs can be found at any adoption shelter in any town or village all over the world!

So Feel Better, All!