The Winter settles in your thoughts just like the inversion over downtown Salt Lake City. A metallic imitation fog chokes the enjoyment out of your mind and makes you would like for only a glimmer of that desert solar — the identical solar you cursed six months earlier. 

Some struggle the oppression of winter with train, however you received’t discover me jogging within the 6 a.m. darkness. Some wrap themselves in classic cardigans and crochet by the fireplace, however I’ve neither specialty knit nor fireside.

Though the southwest just isn’t topic to the howling winds of the Great Plains (famously inflicting settlers with “prairie madness”), or the moist unskiable snows of New England, our neck of the woods faces uninteresting, darkish, chilly months simply the identical.

How does one endure the season, yr after yr? Some might inform to maintain a constant schedule and to find time for family and friends. Those issues might assist. But I’ve a little bit of novel recommendation borne of lived expertise — purchase a fish. 

Buying a fish

Walk into your native huge field pet retailer and head on to the wall of water. Do not be tempted by animals with hair. Approach the array of fish tanks with exaggerated warning, to speak that you simply imply no hurt. Employees and retailer patrons will respect this gesture.

Watch unique grey-speckled zebras and inexperienced neon tetras drift by silk vegetation. Notice how they casually keep away from the translucent shrimp, furiously faucet dancing on the marbles lining the underside of 150-gallon tanks. One jet-black Molly fish breaks from its shoal and wriggles as much as the glass, the place its completely smiling mouth gapes at you.

After briefly observing the jeweled armor of tiny sea creatures, you’ll run into a lady with mournful eyes, the colour of the turbulent ocean.

She has witnessed a lot in her day, as you’ll quickly be taught.

“Can I help you, young man?” The fish girl will ask you, in case you are a younger man like myself. Answer within the affirmative. “I am looking for my first pet fish.”

She will shake her head in dismay.

“How big is your tank?” Tell her you acquire a one-gallon bowl from a unique big-box retailer. She will shudder, earlier than directing your consideration to the minimal tank sizes listed underneath every fish description.

None are lower than 30 gallons.

She will declare that “Swimming in the bowl you bought would be like living in the linen closet.” After feeling sufficiently responsible, brace your self for this girl’s clarification of the shop’s spectacular aquatic infrastructure. 20,000 gallons of water backstage, biking by each tank. Filters the scale of workplace printers, modified thrice a day.

Temperature, pH, and hardness — all constantly monitored. 

This is a chance to introspect in your incapacity to successfully look after the residing issues in your life. Take a second to meditate in your hubris, believing you can present an excellent life to just a little fish for lower than what you paid to your 2001 Dodge Stratus.

Turn your gaze to the bookcase filled with betas in take-out containers. Realize, regardless of the lady’s bowl-size protestation, that you’re able to offering for this very self-sufficient breed of fish.

Choose the one that appears probably the most residing (not all might be transferring). Get tricked into shopping for a $20 tank heater you don’t want. Accept the pamphlet given to you by your Virgil-like information — “So you just bought a beta, now what?”

Carefully drive that candy little swimmer residence.

Taking care of your new buddy

The winter is chilly, however by this level in your fish possession journey, your coronary heart needs to be warming. 

Congratulations, you will have simply stuffed your empty life with the duty of caring for one thing that’s depending on you for survival. This new buddy, Ribby-Mae Bowflex, will drive you to get up within the morning to sprinkle precisely three pellets of meals in her water. 

You will fear in regards to the temperature of that cup bowl in the course of the night time (good factor you acquire that heater). You will begin to dream of fancier vegetation to make Ribby-Mae joyful. You will analysis the pure proclivities of this creature (they take little naps!).

Some might say: Are you compensating for a scarcity of human companionship? Ignore the haters.

Ribby-Mae swims quicker once you stroll up the steps, isn’t that cute?

When you stare at your pet, it is best to be capable to really feel just a little glimmer of private change, that promise of a future Spring. Your small acts of care, day after day, convey good into the world.

After going by this journey of shopping for and caring for a fish, chances are you’ll be prepared to maneuver on to larger issues, like houseplants, quiet birds or, sometime, low-maintenance people.

In time, the earth will thaw, bushes will blossom and also you’ll have survived the Winter blues.

Take my recommendation. Go purchase a fish.

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