By Jackie Allsup

Are there still a few ponds out there? Its really hard to tell, looking out my living room window. The yard is completely shrouded in its white blanket, and has been that way for months now. Harry has been out checking the lights in my floating heater and removing some of the snow from the ponds so a bit of light can get threw. No sign of any live from within. No clue as to the survival rate from the extremely hard winter. Inside, I have not had good luck with the new indoor pond at all. Fatalities have been extremely large this winter, as I try every trick I know to stabilize the water chemistry. All my favorite fish are gone and many a day has been extremely frustrating and depressing. Im down to theTuff Ten as Ive come to call them. With no new deaths in the past week or so, Im thinking I have got this under control, maybe, finally. Many a morning Ive literally sat on the basement steps and cried over the loss of another fish. (Im pouring out my guts here, knowing fellow ponders are the only ones who may sympathize with me, feel my pain so to say) What a night mare its all been.

The sun is shining today, which must be only the third time since Christmas. Thank goodness it is because Im sure Im experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) - Its brought on by a lack of solar energy.

Apart from the obvious - glaring at glomming skies - the early signs are squinting at light bulbs, spending too much time in front of the TV, or standing by the refrigerator with the door open. I seem to have been doing all three lately.

I wouldnt be surprised if Geraldine, my poor geranium, is also suffering from S.A.D.. The poor thing is sitting beside the east window(all that I have) craving sunlight. Shes also suffering from a fair bit of Post-operative Stress, because for the past month Ive been cloning her by slicing bits off to start cuttings. I feel so guilty whenever its time for another slice. Im at the point now where before I dare pick up the scalpel I have to down a stiff drink, which certainly doesnt help and S.A.D.

I have had one bright spot in my winter doldrums. My violet finally bloomed! This was a gift given to me some 3 years ago. (Really surprised I havent killed it by now too) But anyway, on my weekly watering tour of the plants, I happened to look down on my violet and low and behold it had a single blossom on it. The first time, ever! I figured it was a male violet, if there is such a thing, cause it never bloomed. The most beautiful violet with lacy white trim flower, Ive ever seen. I held it up close to get a good close look at it. Held it up to the window so it had the snow covered yard as its background. If I squinted I could almost make-believe it was a blossom outside in the garden. So now if Im feeling blue from the winter, I go sit by my violet. Cant help but smile when I see it. Funny how sometimes the most simplest of things can bring such great joy.

So Im hoping each of you have been able to look around and find something to find joy in this winter while we impatiently await the arrival of spring. I look forward to reuniting again in February to see how you all have faired. Look forward to hearing the winter stories. Hope you can make it. In the mean time, chin up, spring is coming. I think!