The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine No More…

Vaughn C. Hardacker

Vaughn Hardacker here: As I write this, I look out the window at a dark, dreary day with below-average snow on my lawn (I can see grass spots!). If you wonder if I am complaining about that, I’m not. Why I am complaining about is that we have not had a sunny day this year. It hasn’t made an appearance since before Christmas. Every year I suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder (appropriately abbreviated SAD), commonly called seasonal depression, which makes every day a battle.

Many of us have been asked why there are so many mystery and horror writers from Maine. At a writer’s event, Tess Gerritsen was asked this question, and she replied: “Long, dark winters.” In my case, the opposite is true. I become so down it takes all of my energy to get out of bed in the morning, and my productivity as a writer is Slim, and none–and Slim left town. The only thing that seems to become active is my random excuse generator. I can come up with hundreds of reasons why I can’t write. I have a SAD therapy light to brighten up the room (I’m told to restrict its use to two to three hours a day–which means I only have to find a way to cope with the other twenty-one hours a day) and have been prescribed an anti-depressant, but neither do much.

A major component of the problem is where I live. At one time or another, we’ve all been asked what living in Maine is like. The usual answer is nine months of winter and three months of poor sledding. I think back to my youth (yes, I can still remember that far back), and all of my memories seem to be of winter. As for summer memories, well, I may as well have dementia… they are few and far between.

How have I been trying to overcome this? For one thing, I have a friend who raises goats, and I asked to borrow one. He quizzed me, so I explained: “I want to sacrifice it and see if the sun will come out.” There’s no need to say I did not get the goat. My counselor has told me I need to find a winter activity, such as snowmobiling. I’ve been all over the area shopping for a suitable sled. Few, if any, come with heaters and FM or satellite radio. This means I would have to spend money on suitable clothes and footwear. In an economy where a small carrot cake at the supermarket went from $5 to $10, can you imagine what a suit, helmet, gloves, and insulated boots cost? I told my counselor, “If I could afford to spend that much, I’d go to Florida or Arizona…”

So, what is my alternative? I can do what I’m doing right now–complain. I can tell you that does no good. After a while, even your pets will avoid you. I can take all calendars from the house (I tried this… did no good, the heavy overcast sky is still visible through the windows.) I could move… the chances of that? You might refer to Slim above.

Looking at this blog, I wonder if I’m spreading SAD–like Typhoid Mary. If so, I permit you to say that I have a negative attitude (I do… but I looked at my calendar, and April is only 85 days away! Until then, I think I’ll take a nap.

About Vaughn C. Hardacker

Vaughn C. Hardacker has published six novels and numerous short stories. He is a member of the New England Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, and the International Thriller writers. Three times he has been a finalist in the Maine Literary Awards Crime Fiction category, SNIPER, in 2015, THE FISHERMAN in 2016, and WENDIGO for the 2018 award. The second installment of his Ed Traynor series, MY BROTHER'S KEEPER was released in July 2019 and is available through all major booksellers. A signed copy can be ordered directly from Vaughn (vhardacker@gmail.com). THE EXCHANGE his most recently published crime/thriller was released on September 4, 2020. His next thriller, RIPPED OFF, is scheduled to be released by Encircle Publications in January 25, 2023. He is a veteran of the U. S. Marines and served in Vietnam. He holds degrees from Northern Maine Technical College, the University of Maine and Southern New Hampshire University. He lives in Stockholm, Maine.
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17 Responses to The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine No More…

  1. John Clark says:

    I don’t have SAD, but I’ve been on an antidepressant for years. Tried getting off it and Satan moved into my head (not a fun experience). You’re right about the drear of cloudiness sucking energy and creativity out of one. Beth and I are fortunate as we have the pools at the Alfond Center a mile away. Two hours of hot swimming and exercise with a good group of souls does wonders. Wish I could teleport it up your way.

  2. With you, Vaughn. I used to hate February so much I’d go a bit nuts. Then we started spending March in Florida. It made all the difference! This year, of course, the place we stay on Sanibel has too much storm damage. But I found that dream of March could carry me through January and February. Try to get away, even if only for a week. It might help. Readers need your books.

    Kate

  3. Same here, Vaughn. Winston Churchill called his depression his “black dog,” which I can understand perfectly. I, too, have a “SAD light” (it’s on and sitting next to me as we speak) and meds which I’m not ashamed to say I’ve been on for years.

    My primary coping mechanism has been skiing, primarily at Saddleback, which has the feel of a big mountain but the ambiance of small country store. 🥰 There are expenses involved but I regard them as tantamount to paying a therapist for sessions which have no end in sight – and much more fun! It also helps to have a spouse who understands and will listen without judgement (usually) to my growls and gripes.

    Bobby Wing, the protagonist of most of my stories, suffers from PTSD and depression related to his military service and the death of his wife while he was deployed overseas. Writing about his life humorously is sometimes a challenge but seems to help my perspective on life. You’re certainly not alone, Marine. 🫡

    • Sandy:

      It’s ironic that you quote Winston Churchill. A few years back I did my family genealogy and learned some interesting things. One of them is that Winny and I are 9th cousins! Now I realize we have something in common… he was the black dog and I was the black sheep! No wonder he was depressed.

      Vaughn

      • Given the life he lived I suspect he was probably bipolar. If you’re interested I’d recommend “Winston Churchill, An Informal Study of Greatness” by Robert Lewis Taylor. It is a light-hearted biography with a surprisingly humorous tone but I found it fascinating. Churchill was born of an American mother into a noble English family which later included Princess Diana. He coped with his demons. He had to.

      • My link to Churchill is through his mother. She was related to the Bordens. My great-grandmother was a Borden. I’m also related to Robert Laird Borden (the last Canadian Prime Minister to be knighted by the King of England), Gale Borden (he was probably the most gifted of the Bordens. He invented condensed milk, founded Borden Foods, , surveyed the streets of Galveston, TX, and has a town, Gale, in Borden county TX named after him.). Then there’s my favorite ancestor I am a fifth cousin, twice removed, from axe (actually it was a hatchet) murderer Lizzie Andrew Borden. You may have heard the rhyme about her: Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41.

  4. maggierobinsonwriter says:

    I am basking under the glow of the computer screen. It’s snowing outside right this minute. Bah humbug. I remind myself I have sweet pea seeds to plant in a few weeks and look forward to the Easter egg hunt with the grandchildren in our muddy garden. But it’s hard to be patient. I feel your pain.

    • You too! Two days after I posted this we got fifteen inches of snow… However, on a positive note, Madawaska, ME (about twenty miles north of me) got twenty-0ne! I laugh when I reakize that when you leave Madawaska and go south for the winter, you come to my house!

  5. This made me laugh, but I know it’s not really a laughing matter. I’m in San Diego now, so you’d think I wouldn’t get the winter doldrums. You’d be wrong. A Mainer for most of my life (all but the last 4 years), I think SAD has become chronic—not situational. However, when I think about six months of winter and scraping ice off the windshield and slip-sliding home during an unexpected snowfall, I wonder WHY I want to move back to Maine. Am I crazy? Probably. But at least there I can suffer amongst people who get it. I’m actually looking forward to huddling in front of my pellet stove again. And I loved your WENDIGO book, as you know. In solidarity, Shelley.

    • I know where you’re coming from I was at Camp Pendelton in January 1968 going through training on my way to Vietnam. No one there understood about winter. Then on the night we stayed in the field playing war games it snowed! No one ever again thought I was exaggerating. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that night was like a balmy July night in Maine…

      Thanks for the great review of WENDIGO. Early on I was told “Write what you know.” I do write fantasy though… I have written books that take place in summer… What does a kid from Caribou, Maine know about summer! I over slept one day in July and missed the entire thing.

  6. Amber Foxx says:

    I felt that way the winter I spent in Maine. I’d taken a job there because I really needed a job. But I spent the whole year looking for a new job somewhere with average winter daytime temperatures above forty. I got one, in Virginia, and ten years later retired to New Mexico. Phew. Winters here in Truth or Consequences are full of people from the SAD-inducing north basking in sun and hot springs. Wish you could make it here–it would be healing.

  7. kaitcarson says:

    And now a word from Pollyanna, but first, let me say, my husband agrees with you all. He’s lobbying for a trip to Florida. As for me – every season has it’s charms, and winter is among them. Is there anything more beautiful than a stand of pines covered in new snow against a cloudless, robin’s egg blue, sky. Or watching the critters play in snowy fields. Or the sparkle of the morning sun on hoarfrost covered limbs – tree limbs, not human limbs – oh, you knew that. Nope, it’s all good. Look on the bright side. Spring is coming and we’ll soon have the hills painted with glorious Seurat-style greens. And black flies following on their heels. 🙂

  8. Hmmmm. Do you recall how pristine the snow banks along the road are when they’re coated with black dirt… I won’t talk about all the beer cans left after the snow melts! I will admit, I don’t mind it if it snows on Christmas Eve as long as it’s gone on December 26. I really shouldn’t complain though. I chose to come back here in 2009. My aunt who lived in Florida asked me why I didn’t move there. I replied, “Florida smells like Vietnam to me… besides snow, ice, and cold are only a problem if you have to go out in it. I, like you, also like the four seasons. Winter (October to May), mud season (May to June) Summer (two days in July) and fall (August to September) I usually tell people that up here in the county we have two seasons–nine months of winter and three month of poor skiing. (Between you and me. After living in the Boston area, Chicago, traveling everywhere from Australia to Poland, where did I move to? Stockholm, ME. One thing that long depressing winter does for us that no one who has never lived through one will understand is how appreciative we are when summer does arrive. I’ve spent a lot of time looking for a place with Maine summers and Texas winters–no luck finding it yet.

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