Lately I’ve thought there’s something wrong with Google. Every day I check their weather site and it says the sun is shining over Geneva. I look outside and the sky is the colour of an old bruise. It is grey and cloudy and sunshine is nowhere in sight. ‘Google, you piece of useless rubbish.’ I’ve thought. ‘What’s with the constant weather prediction duff ups?’
This cheerless, iron-dull sky has been sitting like a lid, a manhole cover over me for about three weeks. It turns out that Google is correct and there is actually sun and blue sky everywhere, except over my head. Well, except over my head and the Lake Geneva basin. Apparently, around November, a blanket of clouds drifts in and plonks itself over the lake and part of its coast. It hovers over the area and won’t budge until it rains, or the wind blows or the temperature changes drastically. This thick, distinct layer of murky grey is known as ‘La Soupe’ (the soup). The clouds invert the temperature so it feels cooler below them than above them. You must go about 600m up the mountain, through the clouds and beyond them, for the warmer weather and clear skies.
Here’s a picture of what I have seen from my bedroom window for the past three weeks. It reminds me of England. Depressing, innit?
Every morning, when I open the blinds in the bedroom, I see fog and gloom and I start the day feeling foggy and gloomy. I wish my moods weren’t so weather dependent. If it is a bright, sunny day, then I feel chipper and there’s a spring in my step. If it is constantly cloudy and miserable, then I am a bit flat. This is why The Black Dog followed me around in London and I felt permanently grey and damp, just like the weather.
The problem with weather dependent moods is that it is not immediately obvious why you are merry or down in the dumps. It is like that classic frog in hot water story that explains the best way to kill a frog is to place it in a pot and slowly raise the temperature. If you chuck the frog in boiling water from the start, it will notice the heat and leap out the pot to save itself. However, if you raise the heat gradually, the frog won’t jump out because the temperature difference is less distinct and it slowly cooks itself to death. The thing about weather-related ‘flatness’ is that it creeps up on you and it takes some navel-gazing to pinpoint the cause of the bleakness, especially when things are going hunky dory and there’s absolutely no obvious, logical reason to feel depressed.
I shouldn’t allow weather to affect me so much but I can’t help it. It is comforting for me to know that I am not the only person suffering in La Soupe. Last Sunday, I saw a friend at church who responded, ‘depressed’, when I asked her how she was and she then explained that the fog and greyness were ‘slowing killing her’.
Many people do special trips in search of brightness and blue skies. One of my friends said she took her kids up the mountain after school one day as they all needed to lighten their moods. She said they were above the cloud for 45 minutes and that short time did wonders for their state of minds. She said, ‘It will keep us going until the weekend.’ At my mother’s group on Tuesday, I asked one of the ladies how she manages in the fog and she said she is, ‘Totally depressed. Why do you think I am here?’ So you see, it is not just me.
Last week, I could no longer take the gloom. ‘Enough is enough’, I thought.
I was on a mission – I needed the sun. Megan and I drove up the mountain through fog that reminded me of misty, spongy English moors. All of a sudden, I broke through the cloud curtain into blue sky and sun. Hooray! Instantly, I felt happier. Megan and I had a great walk through St-Cergue, which is a little Swiss mountain village close to the French border. The fresh air, exercise, blue skies and brightness did wonders for my mood. At one point, I even skipped. As I drove down the hill, back into the fog, I felt as if I was holding my breath to go under water. Hopefully my dose of sunshine will keep me going for a while longer.
This is a picture of the sunshine in St-Cergue on the same day that I took the photo of the fog outside my bedroom window:
This is ‘La Soupe’ which is the low cloud cover over the Lake Geneva basin. I appreciate the beauty from above and not from below. I feel better when I am on top of it and not when it is on top of me:
One of my friends suggested I may cope better with La Soupe if I imagined it as an analogy for life. We humans sit here in the ‘fog’ on earth and assume that this is all there is. We plod along without realizing that there is something better – blue sky and sunshine – above and beyond the greyness in which we live.
Some people say La Soupe is heaviest in November and others say it can last all winter. What a thought! If so, Megs and I will have to make regular trips up the mountain and through the cloud curtain in search of mood-enhancing sunshine.