Tropical depression

Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except February, which lasts forever.

Another batch of snow fell on us yesterday. Not a deal-breaker, by any means; just enough to ugly up the landscape and annoy commuters. The sun has been scarce for way too long and there’s a piercing chill in the air.

Dreary doesn’t begin to describe it. What does?

I spent yesterday in a snit over having to wait at home all day for a county inspector who never showed. A hostage in my own home between 8:00 and 5:00, I was forced to confront an unsavory build-up of mundane tasks.

Inside was depressing; outside even more so. I didn’t want to be in either place. I was in the doldrums. Or did I have the doldrums? Which is it?

I looked up “doldrums” and was surprised to learn that it’s actually an oceanographic term. It seems that doldrums are regions of light ocean currents within the inter-tropical convergence zone near the equator. I didn’t know this. My husband, an oceanographer who specializes in ocean currents, didn’t either. I learned that the doldrums give rise to converging trade winds that produce clusters of convective thunderstorms.

In contrast, the doldrums are also defined as a period of stagnation, a slump, a period of depression or unhappy listlessness. This is what I had all right. Funny how the two definitions seem to be at odds, like hot and cold.

Still, I could sense how both meanings were descriptively apt. If you could have seen me yesterday, storming over the delinquent inspector, wanting to leave the house, yet fearing the February chill. A prisoner of bureaucratic breakdown and paralyzed by inertia. I was doldrums incarnate—a convective tempest trapped in a cross current of a stubborn winter and seasonal listlessness.

One word. Two meanings, both appropriate.

This storm too shall pass. It’s 21 degrees, but the sun has made an appearance.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Health, Hearth and Home, Rants and Raves

3 responses to “Tropical depression

  1. chris

    “This morning I shot two holes in my freezer. I think I have fever…”

  2. Sharon

    Check out
    for what the author has deemed ‘antagonyms,’ “a single word that has meanings that contradict each other.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s