Living Madly: Mud Season
By Emilie-Noelle Provost
Although I’m one of the few people I know who looks forward to winter, I’ve been feeling depressed since last fall. I’m pretty sure it happened gradually, the way that bad weather rolls in and blocks out the sun one cloud at a time.
Rob and I both came down with COVID-19 in early September. Even though both of us are fully vaccinated, Rob was sick for more than a month. We were unable to do much of anything until mid-October. By then, it felt like we had missed much of the fall, our favorite season.
While we were sick, we got out of the habit of doing anything with anyone. Even after we recovered, we were in the house a lot of the time, a situation exacerbated by working from home. Once the days started getting shorter and the temperature dropped, putting on real clothes and socializing often seemed like too much work.
One of the few times we did go out, to a book-signing in mid-December, Rob and I both caught a nasty cold that landed us on the couch through the holidays—a time of year that was already difficult due to the fact that we’d lost three of our friends to cancer since the previous April.
The unseasonably warm weather and lack of snow didn’t help either. After a disappointing fall, I’d been looking forward to scooting around on the backcountry skis we got last winter. The skis are still collecting dust in our guest room closet.
The weather in the mountains, where we hike on weekends year-round, compounded the situation. Whenever we were actually healthy enough to hike, it seemed a blizzard was forecasted to hit northern New Hampshire, the temperature dropped well below zero, or the wind started howling at dangerous speeds.
While there were a few nice days when we were able to get outside, in late January, Rob and I both caught COVID-19 again. We’d hardly been around anyone, so I have no idea where we got it.
By the middle of February, I was sick of being in the house, sick of feeling depressed, and sick of spending my weekends vacuuming up cat fur.
The solution was sparked by a text message from a friend: Just plan something. You’ll feel better if you have something to look forward to.
A few days later, my daughter, who is the art teacher at one of Lowell’s elementary schools, mentioned she had signed up to take a pottery class. Remembering my friend’s advice, I signed up for the class, too.
I had second thoughts almost right away. I’d never even been in the same room with a pottery wheel. And it was at night. Over the past few months, I’d left the house after dark even less often than I had during the day. The only reason I didn’t cancel my registration was because my daughter was so excited about us taking the class together.
It turns out that making a muddy mess with a group of strangers every week can do some good. Throwing pottery requires a lot of concentration, which means I can’t dwell on other things while I’m doing it. Meeting the other people in the class has been nice. Spending time with my daughter, who no longer lives at home, has been the best part of all.
So far, I’m better at getting wet clay all over myself than I am at making pottery. But rather than being disappointing, it’s actually made it easier to just have fun. Any recognizable objects I’ve been able to make are a bonus.
Forcing myself to leave the house on Monday evenings hasn’t always been easy. But I’m starting to feel more like my old self and less like a depressed person.
I’m looking forward to spring. Something in the air feels different this year, more like it did before the pandemic. The more people I talk to, the more I think I’m not the only one who feels this way: A lot people are tired of being sick, of being stuck at home, and maybe also of cat fur. They’re ready to put the past few years behind them and move on.
So, here’s to spring, to getting out of the house, and to trying new things, even if they require getting muddy.
Emilie-Noelle Provost’s second novel, “The River is Everywhere,” will be released next month. She has a reading and book signing scheduled for March 22, 2023, at 6:30 pm at the Dracut Library. For more information and to register for the event, visit the library’s website.