Tag Archives: winter

Tis the season to forget your friends’ birthdays

There are hundreds of interesting scientific studies linking winter birthdays to depression and other illnesses, and all of these studies propose cool mechanisms like womb effects and seasonal disease agents. Although I’m sure most of these proposed mechanisms are totally reasonable, I’ve always wondered about the cumulative effect of simply having your birthday ignored. Instead of thinking about you, your friends and family are thinking about Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanuka, Kwanza, New Year’s resolutions, and weight gain. And you’re saying, every year, “That’s OK, I’m fine, don’t worry about me,” … suppressing your disappointment year after year, silently throwing dagger eyes at your friends who have exciting birthday parties on the beach during the summer.

So after decades of wondering, I finally did the Google Trends search to see if interest in buying birthday presents dips. The result will surprise nobody with a winter birthday, I suspect:

Winter birthdays depression

So this holiday season, show your December and January friends some love.

By the way: season-of-birth (SOB) studies SHOULD include people who don’t actually know their true birthday (but for some reason the scientists know). I know that’s going to be a small data set, but that would allow the effects of womb and birthing time to be separated from the cumulative (social) effects of having birthdays in different months. There are a lot of factors in addition to just Christmas. Kids who have birthdays during the school year have a much, much easier time getting all their friends to the party (summertime takes people away on family vacations), and often their birthdays are announced on the school intercom — the cumulative effects of that cannot be zero, I claim.

And when people don’t know their birthday, which month do they choose? I’d love to know that.

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Hardy kiwis

I’ve had to wait over 10 years, but my female kiwi finally set fruit in 2014 after probably 12 years. The fruit are tiny — about the size of a big grape — but wonderfully delicious.

Colin Purrington Photography: plants &emdash; hardy-kiwi-1

Colin Purrington Photography: plants &emdash; hardy-kiwi-2

Colin Purrington Photography: plants &emdash; hardy-kiwi-3

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Skunk cabbages in snow

Photograph of Eastern skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) covered with snow.  I didn’t confirm with a thermometer, but these are famous for heating themselves up, maintaining 35 °C (95 °F) internal temperature even when outside air is below freezing.  Heat helps volatilize the awful smell, which can be attractive to flies and beetles, but also creates a hot “room” inside the curved leaf (spathe) that surrounds the inflorescence on the spadix (hidden from view at this angle).  But a more likely hypothesis of why this ability evolved is that thermoregulation protects pollen tube growth and female reproductive structures from frost damage. Either way, one of my favorite plants. Growing in the Crum Woods, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

colin purrington photography: plants &emdash; Eastern skunk cabbages (Symplocarpus foetidus) in snow.  Crum Woods, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania. They actually heat up to provide warm environments for flies, their primary pollinators.

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