Spring Greening

Spring Greening, University of Wisconsin - Madison Arboretum

Spring Greening © 2011 Bo Mackison

The material of the artist lies not within himself nor in the fabrications of his imagination, but in the world around him . . . The artist’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.” ~ Paul Strand

Year after year, spring returns. Perhaps in a given year we say “Spring is early,” or “Spring is late this year,” or “It was a cold, dreary Spring.” But never once have we said, “Spring didn’t come this year.”

When I returned to Wisconsin from my long Arizona visit, I was anxious for spring to show its pretty face. Instead I arrived in the middle of one of the cloudiest, grayest Aprils on record. Not since the late 1800s had there been a spring with less sunlight.

I found the transition difficult, moving from a desert clime where the sun shines brightly nearly every day with only a bit of cloud cover to Wisconsin where day after day was gray.

I was cranky. I was restless. I was depressed.

I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and without a certain amount of sunshine, I can easily slip into a low mood. And so, I slipped right into the person I gave myself permission to be — crabby, impatient, moody. (Hey, I had an excuse, right?) And then I took it a step farther, and convinced myself that whenever  the weather prediction was sunny, I would have a good day. Conversely, when it was cloudy, cool, and gray, I just knew my day was going to be a downer.

It didn’t take me long to realize that this was not a good game plan–giving myself permission to be “less than my best” on cloudy days–especially when Madison statistically has 89 sunny days a year (0% to 30% cloud cover during daylight areas) and 96 partly sunny days (clouds cover from 40% to 70% of the sky during the day). That is a grand total of 185 days with some sun visible or, said another way, the sun shines 54% of our daylight time.

No, that is not a good plan at all. I am NOT giving myself permission to expect that almost half of my days will be sub-par because of cloudy weather.

I needed a new plan. Quickly!

I borrowed some inspiration from Robin who posts at Life in the Bogs. She committed to spending time outside each day, and she began this winter. She has explored her outside environment in all sorts of weather–sunny, windy, snowy, sleety, rainy. And has lived to blog about it–in a positive way, too.

And as I read about Robin on her adventures, I considered what she was doing. And I realized that when I connect with nature, I too experience a boost in my mood, and that this happens in almost any kind of weather. (Not so much when it’s below zero and the wind chill is frigid, but I don’t have to worry about those conditions until December!)

So I have no good reason to stay indoors when it is cloudy or rainy, no reason to give myself permission to feel cranky or low, and blame it on cloud cover. When I go outside and explore my natural settings, I feel more positive, no matter the weather. So, time outdoors is now on the top of my to-do list–every day!

This is my first step. The next part of my new plan will be in my next post.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. Bo is thankful that spring has arrived. But she is working on a new adventure at home–one where she embarks on a daily outdoor experience, no matter the weather or season.





About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Good for you! The weather and circumstance do not create our reality, we create our own reality, and it’s easy to find pegs to hang our bad moods on. Gratitude and communing with nature are wonderful ways to replace the pegs of gloom and doom with better energy. Be a solar battery of cheer! Soak up those rays and use them to warm and cheer yourself the rest of the time.

  2. I know the feeling Bo, we haven’t had three sunny days in a row since last year, like everything else it will change and I will then be complaining about that…great shot BTW !!

  3. Joanna Paterson says:

    I also know that feeling! But you’re right, it’s the feeling of connectedness with the natural world in *all* her moods that is the real prize, regardless of the hours of sunshine.

    Thanks for being so honest about your transition back to cloudy days – there are lessons there for all of us.

  4. Gandalf says:

    That is some kind of contrast. Take the sun with the clouds and rain. Hope all goes well for you.

  5. Love how – every day – you commit yourself to a new adventure. I love the outdoors..need to feel the air – hot or cold..wet or dry!! Looking forward to seeing where this takes you!!!

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