Memory Catcher

Braiding memory and imagination to craft your story.

Beating the Winter Blues

Season affective disorder in Italy? Non e possible!

On a rainy afternoon in Chiusi, as I ate at my pecorino and pear salad, I realized I felt lonely and bored. Lonely and bored and gloomy.

How could this be? I was traveling in Tuscany, where ochre villas rise along winding roads lined with cypress trees. Dreamy countryside, friendly people, delicious food.

I was affected by the weather. Day after day of overcast skies had burst into pouring rain, followed by more dark clouds. That might sound cozy to some; in my case, it made me sad. I was there for a month, so it wasn’t that my trip had been ruined. But the lack of sunshine brought me down.

Over time I’ve learned what elevates my mood: being with people I enjoy, reading a page turner, driving through beautiful countryside. It took effort to rouse myself into action and go to Chuisi’s Etruscan Museum after lunch. It turned out to be a smart move — art and history transported me to a place of delight.

During the next few days, I wrote in my journal and drove the back roads. But it was the interactions with people that were the highlights. It was a pleasure to be with the proprietors of each inn I visited. At the first place I stayed, near Montepulciano, the owner lent me her bathing cap and towels, so that I could swim in the municipal pool, an Olympic-sized beauty. A small act of kindness that made me feel welcome.

At the second place, the owner's wife prepared a lunch of pasta with pumpkin for us, while he helped with my itinerary, drawing maps to guide my way, including a trip to Perugia and its exquisite National Gallery. I had a private Italian lesson with their friend Paola, who raised my skills to new levels of linguistic elegance. I had cappuccino with another American who has lived in this part of Italy for more than 20 years. I loved hearing her ex-pat story. Even though I looked forward to returning to California, part of me dreamt of living in Italy.

What brings joy is a personal matter. I loved connecting with people there, as well as Skyping with friends back home. Once again, I discovered that when I write, I am never alone, recording my thoughts, lines of dialogue, and events, and describing my days using all my senses. Exercise – walking or swimming – grounds me. Seeing art and other sights can transform my mood. Whether I’m home or abroad, it’s always worth the effort to shift to a happier state.

Writing prompt: Describe what you'd do on an overcast day. How does the weather affect your mood?

Copyright © 2012 by Laura Deutsch

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

Laura Deutsch is a San Francisco-based writer. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and More magazine, among others.

more...

Subscribe to Memory Catcher

Current Issue

Just Say It

When and how should we open up to loved ones?