Winter, Children’s Books & Epilepsy

Winter from the New Golden Almanac

I have been told that, astronomically, winter begins around December 21st, but, as a kid, learning about the seasons from reading books by (or illustrated by) Richard Scarry, I got the idea that winter starts when December does. You know,

Winter: December – February
Spring: March – May
Summer: June – August
Fall: September – November

When I hit school age, the fact that “Summer vacation” ran June through August where I lived seemed to confirm the idea.

Within a few years of that time, it began to bother me that people annually welcomed Winter roughly three weeks after it had actually started. By that point, I was reading a lot about astronomy, and I ran into this whole “winter begins with the solstice” rubbish that everyone else subscribed to.

But I still think Richard Scarry was right. It is already winter.

Of the first books I remember loving in my childhood, Richard Scarry’s were near or at the top of the list. It has to be admitted, though, that the book below gave me an idea that the English Channel was quite a bit smaller than it actually is.

Busy, Busy World

Fortunately, my actual favorite book as a child was the Rand-McNally World Atlas.

If anything, my love of children’s literature has only gotten stronger with age. Children’s books come with one set of limitations (subject matter) but without many other limitations that hamper much ‘adult’ literature — unwillingness to mix types media, for example. Children’s books might be full of stories, and poetry, and drawings, and paintings, and music – and no one thinks anything of it.

As we age, we go through various passage rites; one of them is to show we can deal with ugliness in our art as well as beauty or wonder. This is typically (and perhaps rightly) seen as a sign of maturity. Some people overdo it, however; they leave beauty and wonder completely behind in their art.

This can be a valid choice, of course; but it is sometimes reflexively adopted to display something like a posture of maturity. It is only when we have faced the ugliness life offers that the true value of beauty can be understood. And it is only when we know what guilt is that the value of innocence can be placed in fullest perspective.

In my mid-twenties I was diagnosed with epilepsy, a condition I have lived with ever since.

There are a number of things I have to either do or avoid doing to optimize my health, namely:

  1. Take my medication.
  2. Get plenty of rest.
  3. Avoid bright, flashing lights.
  4. Avoid alcohol, or anything else (like decongestants) that interferes with my medication.

So far, I’ve only had major seizures when something interferes with my medication; however, were I to have one while on medication properly I would never be able to drive a car again — a thing I would rather avoid. Hence, my focus on items 2 through 4, above.

I had to leave a wedding reception prematurely this last weekend when the dance floor lights started to bother me. I have had full-blown seizures set off by something as simple as seeing lights through a moving ceiling fan, and it’s not an experience I care to replicate.

While I have not had major seizures while on medication properly, I do have minor ones, which manifest themselves to others around me as tics or sudden jerks.

It’s not the greatest way to make a good impression on new people I meet.

These minor ones typically only start if I am really tired or externally overstimulated, such as I was by the wedding reception strobe lights. Since my wife and co-workers are the only people who regularly see me “really tired”, I don’t typically have to worry about the opinions of strangers on such matters.

There’s nothing cool about having seizures, but, for me, it’s like having freckles – I have a million freckles – it’s just how I am.

I remember my wife and I walking one winter evening, back when we were first married. We were letting the dog run loose in a big field near our old house, briskly walking along to keep up. The sun was setting. She was saying that she worried I wasn’t sleeping enough (work was really stressful at the time) and that I would end up back in the hospital if I wasn’t careful. And though I couldn’t say why, I realized, at that exact moment, that I was precious to her in spite of being damaged. I was not less of a man, I was more of a man she was worried about losing, if that makes any sense.

I remember it was winter, by the way, because it was December 1st. Richard Scarry taught me that.


Author: Sibelius Russell

Sibelius Russell (a/k/a/ Owen "Beleaguered" Servant) lives a life of whimsical servitude -- whatever that means.

3 thoughts on “Winter, Children’s Books & Epilepsy”

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