Maybe this is a lousy autumn, or maybe my tolerance for light starvation is ebbing as I age, but I seem to be working up an early case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, inflicting dark moods on my loved ones in a rhythm that echoes that of the storms and rain.

One palliative is to look at birds and flowers. This can be accomplished near my place in Vancouver with a visit to the Bloedel Floral Conservatory. It nestles at the summit of a big hill called Little Mountain, geodesic among the evergreens, which is to say totally Riven-esque when you see it from below. This dome detail’s background may help you understand why I’ve been feeling grey.

Bloedel Floral conservatory dome, exterior

When you step inside, you’re instantly warm. It’s packed, jam-packed, with greenery and flowers and birds, also a pretty impressive koi-pond. The blossoms are a treat for color-starved eyes; here we have an orchid, a poinsettia, and, um, something yellow.

Orchid at the Boedel Floral conservatory
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Poinsettia at the Boedel Floral conservatory
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Yellow blossom at the Boedel Floral conservatory

There are also many birds. The stars of the show are the large, brilliant-hued parrots, but I sort of prefer teeny feathered jewels like this guy.

Small bird at the Boedel Floral conservatory

And when we came out, there were some sunbeams inhabiting the view northeast across Vancouver.

View of Vancouver northeast from Little Mountain


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Prakash Murthy (Nov 28 2010, at 22:00)

That's a great way to deal with SAD! Will find out if there are any nature conservatories in the Denver area.


From: BWJones (Nov 28 2010, at 22:14)

Botanical gardens are some of my favorite places to go. My fantasy one of these days is to have a small greenhouse, with enough room for a fountain, a few rows of plants and a table and chairs that functions as a warm, refreshing retreat in the winter months. Fresh fruits and vegges throughout the winter would not hurt either...


From: Tom Welsh (Nov 29 2010, at 03:11)

I'm very sorry to hear about the SAD, Tim! Have you tried listening to music as another way of raising your consciousness and improving your moods? I find Monteverdi, Bach, Mozart and Beethoven very reliable, depending on how depressed I was feeling... and for really tough cases, try Handel's "Music for the Royal Fireworks"!

Plato may have been wrong about some things, but this is one he got right.


From: Anton McConville (Nov 29 2010, at 05:43)

Tim, I live in Ottawa, so I empathize.

I've recently been surprised to learn just how much sunlight imbibes happy feelings in me and since then I've taken steps to greedily snag a hit of it when I can.

Just little things - I walk my kids to school the long way through a wooded area. I sit in a magnified pool of it at our church on Sundays ( a modern building which somehow impossibly seems to funnel more daylight inside than there is outside ).

If it is sunny on the way to work I drive slow and park the car at the other end of the lot.

A few of my quirky habits. A little drop of it goes a long way.


From: SpragueD (Nov 29 2010, at 07:14)

SAD can be difficult to manage. This site is a resource for lay people:

Good luck!


From: Robert Bosman (Nov 29 2010, at 08:01)

One of the reasons that I read your blog with so much pleasure is your honesty and openess. One other is the mix of subjects, covering a broad spectrum of life, art and technology.

In my minds eye I see you as 'a great spirit' who honestly tries to live and serve as good as possible. This 'kind of people' often tend to forget themselves and get exhausted. Sadness is then both a result and an early warning.

How I know? It happend to me so many times. The cure is easy: mix some more rest with introspection and look at everything and everyone, including yourself, with a smile. From today I will add your great succesfilm to the mix. As Gandhi said: 'What can't be accomplished with a smile, is not worth to accomplish'. And one other quote of which I forgot the author: 'Life is too important to be taken seriously'. Personally I would add the word 'only' to that quote.


(Twitter @2BeWise)


From: Doug K (Nov 29 2010, at 08:08)

that little fellow looks just like a Cape White-eye, Zosterops pallidus. I grew up with these but haven't seen one in decades now. Thank you..

The wikipedia description of its song is accurate,

"They are very vocal, and constantly keep in touch with soft trilled pee, pree or pirreee callnotes. The song consists of repeated long jerky phrases of sweet reedy notes, varying in pitch, volume and temp, usually starting off with teee teee or pirrup pirrup notes, then becoming a fast rambled jumble of notes, which may incorporate mimicked phrases of other birdcalls."

They are cheerful company.


From: Robert Bosman (Nov 29 2010, at 08:37)

Sorry Tim, one of that stupid spelling replacements: the word 'succesfilm' replaced 'suggestion' unintendedly in my previous comment. I assume this makes more sense ! ^-^)


From: Swany (Nov 29 2010, at 09:17)

Are you keeping up with your Vitamin D? 2000 units per day.


From: Eric H (Nov 29 2010, at 09:57)

I need something like that here in Seattle. And yes, I'm eating my Vitamin D pills.


From: John Hart (Nov 29 2010, at 15:11)

One of my most reliable ways of dealing with the grey in Seattle (other than snowboarding) is to actually get out in the weather and go for a jog.

The iron-grey skies and intermittent light drizzle of the season are much less troublesome when you're on the other side of the window, and you finish the outing with a sense that you've made the day your own.

I sometimes even end up feeling thankful for our weather (gasp!) because the mild temps allow for near year-round outdoor activity.


From: Vicki (Nov 29 2010, at 18:47)

I don't mind rain so much, but getting up in the dark and having it get dark so soon in the evening gets to me. I've now got a wall lamp on dimmer that I can turn on low as soon as I wake up, adding more as I move around and get dressed. By the time I get out of the bedroom, I have more lights on. It helps. If I'm lucky, dawn is breaking as I leave the house. (If I'm not lucky, it's gray and foggy).

Your photos are lovely. Just looking at the pictures gave me a lift.

Tom Welsh - thanks for the tip. "The Royal Fireworks" has always been a favorite of mine. I'll grab a disc for the car!


From: brad clements (Nov 29 2010, at 19:26)

I have found that a bright light designed for SAD treatment really does work.

I've been using a treatment light for about 4 years. Each year it comes out of the box around November 1st and I use it until March. 20 minutes a day really makes a big difference.

I won't mention a particular brand, but mine is 10,000 lux.

love your blog, thanks and good luck!


From: Roland (Nov 29 2010, at 19:32)

Often times (>90% in my experience), when it's gloomy and grey in the city, at Cypress, Seymour or Grouse mountains it's clear or at least bright or their's a fun snow storm:-).

Therefore, I suggest as SAD therapy, any Winter Sport in the mountains: e.g. snow tubing, downhill skiing, tobogganing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snow shoeing (no skill required) or simply walk from cypress parking lot to the hollyburn lodge for free !!!!!


From: Spar Hawk (Nov 29 2010, at 21:51)

I mistook my winter lethargy for SAD ~ until earlier this year when I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea. A serious lack of sleep can easily be (mis-)interpreted as other illnesses. Now I use a CPAP (forced air) device and sleep like a baby -- no more SAD-ness either.

Just a thought... if you have an official diagnosis, feel free to disregard.


From: Piers Hollott (Dec 01 2010, at 22:50)

I definitely second 2000 IU of Vitamin D daily. My memories of the years I spent in Salt Lake City are brighter than other memories, I believe because I was absorbing enough of the stuff. Vancouver Island seems more colourful when I take it regularly.

The best things in life are Riven-esque!


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