It is hard to believe that this week is already Christmas week. I feel like I am just getting finished putting the leftover turkey in the freezer from Thanksgiving. But here it is getting almost to the end of December. We have snow on the ground, and temps have already dipped into the below zero readings a few times in the past few weeks. And of course it is dark by 4:30-5:00 pm now. I never quite know what I dislike worst in winter, the extreme cold or the early darkness over everything in the late afternoon. It remains a toss up for me. I do know that the combination of the two does make me a little crazy at times and longing once again for Summer. And knowing it will be a good 5 month wait for warm sunshiny days with more than 7-8 hours of daylight, let’s just say I find it unbearable at times. And those around me sometimes get to feel my restlessness.
There is a term, “Cabin Fever”, many Minnesotans are familiar with. Defined in an article in Medical News Today it states it is “the psychological symptoms that a person may experience when they are confined to their home for extended periods. Such symptoms may include feelings of restlessness, irritability, and loneliness.”
Last year’s Covid lockdown during the winter saw many people experiencing cabin fever at rapid rates. But it wasn’t so much the weather keeping people shut in, it was that many things were closed and many people tried to follow guidelines to stay put and not spread the Covid virus. It was a year of Cabin Fever of magnitude proportions for many.
While this year, we are still at odds with Covid and it is rearing its ugly head and running rampant here in the North Country, it is nowhere near the fear level it was last year at this time. Many have been vaccinated and gotten their boosters. And many have had Covid and now have the antibodies in their bloodstream. There are also those who just have decided to take their chances and continue with life as it was pre-Covid. I am not here to judge anyone’s Covid decisions. Me and my Best Half chose the vaccination route for us, while some of the family chose the non-vaccination route and eventually got Covid and now have the immunities in their system. In the beginning it was a topic of hot debate in our household. Having several family members who worked or are working in the medical field gave cause for some intelligent and important conversations on the pros and cons. But, just like trying to convince someone on Facebook to see your opinion and point, so it goes trying to convince others to see things your way in person. It rarely happens. And that is where we have left it in our family. We all have our facts and opinions we live by, but it just may not coincide with the thoughts of those other family members.. And that is OK for now.
But back to Cabin Fever. Usually around New Year’s day, the tree is taken down, lights and decorations are put away and we are chalking up another Merry Christmas for the books. A week or two will go by pretty uneventfully as the New Year is upon us. And then it happens...4:30 will come and it is night time. It is around -25 below, there is crunchy snow on the ground, and it hits me. I look out the window in the darkness, see the snow on the ground, and feel the cold air coming through the door jam. It’s here...cabin fever. And it takes all I’ve got to drive those restless feelings away. Those desires to take a bike ride, load up the kayak and go fishing, even a longing to mow the lawn and clean the chicken coop wrestles up into this restlessness. I have cabin fever.
Attempts to bundle up and go outside and take a walk or go get the mail are met with snot running into my scarf, my eyelashes frosting up with ice crystals on the ends of them, and my nostrils eventually sticking together because the snot is starting to freeze inside my nose. A walk down to the mailbox is more like moments of survival from a Bear Grylls episode. And 9 times out of 10, I manage to slip and take a dive in the driveway. After 20 minutes outside in -25 below temps and trying to enjoy the outdoors and rid myself of the restlessness, I am ready to go inside and hunker down again. Instead of curbing cabin fever by going outside, it more or less will intensify those feelings of restlessness to do something outdoors. I start to feel like one of our dogs pacing back and forth through the house. Together the 3 of us will aimlessly wear a path walking the length of the house.
This year I am hoping that about the time cabin fever arrives at our house, we will be packing and planning for a road trip South of here. As the Better Half has said, “We will drive as far south as we can and hang a right to Texas.”. This is our first time ever that we will be able to take a winter vacation and not have to be back home in time to go back to work. We can stay as long as we decide to stay South. A whole new concept in our traveling agenda. Here’s hoping there are no new mandates with cross country traveling that will keep us here during cabin fever season. But if it happens, just know this woman will be the one outdoors riding her bike in -25 below weather.