Through January, February and into Maine’s March, my mood sometimes darkens like the winter outside. And I have a brilliant solution: soft brownies or something fudgy with chocolate chunks at least, or mini-chocolate chips melted on top, as much for their sheen — so needed through the drab season — as their velvety flavor.

Brownies will fix everything. That’s the illusion anyway. Through frost, snow and ice, I crave the sweetness of long walks with neighbors in gentle spring breezes, summer at the beach with my cousins, playing outside in the sun with my grandsons. I seek big connection and great warmth and I head straight to the kitchen to whip up a substitute: cocoa, sugar, butter, flour.

Heartbeat and breath rush as I start the dance of baking. Adrenaline speaks: brownies are what I need. Brownies will cheer me up.

Mind racing with “gotta-have-it, gotta-have it now,” I throw the vanilla, the walnuts and gold box of baking soda on the soapstone countertop, clink the metal measuring cups and play with the hollow in the plastic spoons. I fold dry ingredients into wet, pour the ribbon of thick mixture into a 9-inch square pan. I inhale the silky scent of dark cocoa dissolving.

Brownies, fun and exciting, pull at me. I can taste their richness even as I peer through the glass oven door, peeking too soon, too often and with just a teeny bit too much enthusiasm. I read “bake until it springs back to the touch,” and finally my fingers trampoline off the spongy top.

My heart skips. It’s time. The aroma of steamy, freshly baked brownies wafts through the condo. My stomach rumbles as the chewy confection serves up a banquet for the senses and lifts me out of whatever ails me. For a short while. I sample and the ruse begins. The arm and hand rhythms, the gooey scent, the licks of batter fool me for an hour or so.

But when I really pay attention, I see that this blended brew can play tricks on me. For those first few sniffs and bites — ahhhhhh — chewy chocolate makes me giddy and wide-grinned. Then — after I scoff down two, three or four more, knife-straighten the edges, slice squares onto a plate and devour the morsels that fall — comes a drumbeat headache and sour stomach.

Sometimes way too late, I wake up and wonder: What did I want this physical substance to do for me?

The melt-in-the-mouth yumminess will linger a few minutes at most, pick me up and then, because it won’t last, let me down. Am I looking for love in all the wrong places? The joy of indulgence, impermanent as it is, always vanishes. The brownies will break, go stale, turn to crumbs and, for some of us, trouble.

Before we expect brownies to fix inner and outer unwanted climate, would we be wise to ask, “What do I really want?”

It’s true; some of us long for moments of chocolate relaxation and sweet-tooth satisfaction. It’s also true, especially in the insistence of gotta-have-it, we could be hungering for literal and metaphoric spring in our hearts. Maybe it makes sense to turn to something larger than fleeting pleasure for ultimate sweetness. Maybe there is little wisdom in brownie escape.

Of course, we choose dessert often, and it fills us. At other times, it’s possible we confuse human with spiritual yearnings, and leave our holy hunger starving, unfulfilled. Sometimes a brownie is just a brownie, a perfect antidote to winter doldrums. And sometimes, if we want no bitter aftertaste, we might have to look up from our plates and beyond our taste buds to feed our soul’s appetites.

Susan Lebel Young, MSEd, MSC, teaches mindfulness and is the author of Lessons from a Golfer: A Daughter’s Story of Opening the Heart. She can be reached at [email protected]