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.

3 Comments

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
    http://www-personal.umich.edu/~cellis/antagonym.html
    for what the author has deemed ‘antagonyms,’ “a single word that has meanings that contradict each other.”

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