Cabin Fever

Yup, I got it.
Wait a minute, isn’t that some sort of suburban myth??
Nope. It’s as real as an ear ache.
But it’s not an actual fever, right?
Nope. Not technically. But it can make you wish you had one instead…
So then isn’t cabin fever just a strange state of mind??
Yup. But you better catch it and treat it while it’s still in the “sniffles” stage,
or it’ll put you flat on your back before you can say “Isn’t Spring here yet???”

Occasionally, both by design and ;by happenstance, the Sagebrush Chronicles is forced to “go random.” Now this isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. Just different. We go with it, see where it leads us, and live with the results. I think this is the first time The Chronicles has tried to put a post up when its writer had a bad case of cabin fever. If I recall correctly, the first Chronicles appeared June 2nd of last year. No, winter wasn’t quite done then… it finally finished up June 18, the day before my lilacs finally bloomed. It was an unusually long winter, but we snowmobiled until May 1st, and I was still breaking in my new sled, so I was in hog heaven. But the long winter made for a short summer for most of us in the Northwest, so when winter rolled in last fall, we were, quite rightly, resentful. And, of course, that attitude has made this winter feel even longer than it has been. Not helping the present scenario at all are the emails and pictures of many of the rest of you beginning to enjoy 70 and 80 degree weather and report of some of your flowers going into bloom. An old friend in New Hampshire reports that their snow is “gone, gone, gone” and that some of their flowers are ready to bloom. And I can’t even talk to my friends in Atlanta… all that is far too depressing. Thank heavens my friends in Seattle are still having to deal with much of the same crap we are… and hell, why not?? They’re sending it to us. No wonder it’s basically the same stinky weather.

I’d really be in bad shape right now except that my Kansas Jayhawks have actually made it to the Sweet Sixteen, and I must keep my head about me and root them on. They were an inexperienced ragtag bunch of benchwarmers when this season started. Now they’re a talented college basketball team with character and a backbone. Great coaching job, of course, but some sort of greatness must be lying in those young men, because they’ve come a long way in 4 months. I’m very proud of them. Their recent wins have helped me keep my cabin fever in a kind of infancy stage, which, so far, I’ve been able to deal with.

Another saving grace is Roxanne, of all trucks. Roxanne, who’s seemingly been out to get me ever since I purchased her late last summer. Tiny gave me four used tires for her last fall, as hers were quickly rotting from being out in the weather the past five years. The first snows came before I could get her new booties on her, so she’s been sitting in the garage all winter, waiting, waiting. For the past 3 weeks, the weather has almost been good enough to get her up, out of the driveway and onto the highway  to Norris to get the tires put on. The weather, a huge contributor to cabin fever, was messing with me the whole time. The very day the driveway snow melted, and I got excited about a ride in Roxie, a new storm would blow in, insuring I’d have to wait at least another 4-5 days. It was downright mean.

Well, last week warmed up considerably, and Thursday afternoon I was actually able to sit out on my deckette, sip a brew and listen to the water drip off the roof and run down the driveway. It was a delicious sort of heaven. I was dreaming of an early Spring, to offset last year’s endless winter, and it felt so good. Even when someone down at the post office told me not to get excited, that this warmer weather was “the teaser.” Actually, I knew that… was just trying so hard to ignore it and think more positive. And in that momentary reverie I booked time at J.R.’s Tire in Norris for the very next day, which was last Friday.

Oh, by the way, this is what Saturday morning looked like at my cabin…

Friday morning broke cloudy, in the high 30’s, and off we went, over to Norris, 31 miles away. A slow leaking spare I’d had to put on the left front held up, and we were in Norris by 11 for Roxie’s new booties. All went well over there, even though the wind was blowing to beat hell. There was no precip and I was feeling good about the whole deal. I decided to sit in the office while Dan put the new tires on the old rims. I’d seen that process a dozen times, it was always the same, so I decided to drink the coffee I’d brought with me and pet the shop cat, who had hopped up on the chair beside me.

It’s funny, when ( and where) a person’s mind suddenly decides to take stock his/her life. I’m sipping my hot coffee, petting the cat and listening to Dan’s air wrench whining in the adjacent room when suddenly my present life begins to flash before my eyes and I find myself contemplating whether I’m sitting there, at this point in my life, as a success or a failure. Good god. And worse, at the moment I wasn’t really sure. Negative instances and small failures loomed momentarily, ominously. I poured more coffee and looked at the cat, who looked back at me as if every thing I was thinking was true. Damn cat, anyway. Who cares what a shop cat thinks?! But the process had been started, a demonic attachment to my then “mild case of cabin fever” and my mind wouldn’t, couldn’t let go if the process. So I sat there, trying to make some sort of positive sense of it all. Maybe this was just a bad pot of coffee. No. These thoughts simply had to be dealt with. Now.

As i usually do when a dark moment rolls in, I began to think about all the things I had to be grateful for. And there were plenty. Did i deserve all of them? Oh no, but I do deserve some of them, maybe most of them. And things started slowly looking up. For one thing, gratitude, heart-felt, is a real magical, healing elixir which totally changes one’s attitude and frame of reference toward life. When we’re feeling truly grateful, we’re not needing or wanting anything… we’re busy being grateful for what we already have. In those wonderful moments of gratitude, we’re totally at peace with what we have, and who we are. What a concept. The Buddhists in Atlanta taught me those concepts of gratitude and compassion, and I’m still boggled at how powerful those two concepts are when put properly into motion.

I mentally began to strip away the trucks, tires and snowmobiles from my present life to get at the real things I’m grateful for. My son Dillon, my continuing good health, my warm cabin, my Betty Ann, and my good friends. All these blessings define me, and I am so grateful for them. I’ve stumbled into the near-perfect life here in my little Paradise, and am a fool to waste time analyzing it, wondering if I deserve it or not.

But have I done enough?? God, who knows… have I lived life to the fullest I could? Oh yes, I think so, especially if the way I feel these day is any indication. Have I ever done anything significant for others? Yes. Could have done more, naturally, but I get a check for effort on that. I’ve nearly finished my next book this past winter, a project I’d planned that is about to be successful. That damned book is part of the reason I’ve got this case of cabin fever… you can’t write a book on a snowmobile. So, moving on, am I an old man, growing older by the minute, and living alone, no hope for love in my life? Ha! Absolutely not! Au contraire, mon frere… there is now a love in my life, a love it seems I’ve been waiting for for ever. And it is, of course, my Betty Ann. She is the best, the luckiest part of my life. I am convinced she would not be with me if I were a bad person. And in that, I’m so much better of a person with her. She brings peace, joy, contentment, laughter, heart and wisdom to our relationship. But most of all, she brings a deep sense of integrity, and love. How could I be so damn lucky??! Sitting there, thinking about B, and what she means to my life from here on, I was smiling through some tears when Dan came into the office to tell me my truck was ready.

Ahhh. Cabin fever. It’s a bitch. You go a little crazy, you suddenly get very sane… then off- balance, over-emotional… it’s a real illness, my friends. And the strange cure is to Get Outdoors!!! Weird, huh?

Driving home from Norris, Roxie cruised along as proud as she could be, causing me no trouble whatsoever. We got over the Norris Hill without incident, through Ennis and up the hill to Virginia City… and then it suddenly got interesting. I couldn’t see the top of the pass, and soon found out why. There was a full-bore blizzard up there, and i drove right into it. near the top. Had to slow Roxie down to 20, and could barely see for the next 3 miles. Starting down the other side, it finally began letting up a bit, until i could see the edge of the road again. Roxie’s rear end was slipping around a bit, even at 20 mph… those were not snow tires we just put on her. I had to smile, thinking about why only 150 people live in my town, Virginia City. For one thing, it can be fairly hard to get to, and out of, from time to time. For another, its weather is not very appealing, except for that one week in mid-July. And finally, most people would rather be trapped, by bad weather, in a town that at least has a mall in it, rather than just a post office and a bar. But wait…  maybe that’s not too bad…

Now you have at least an inkling of what cabin fever can be like. It’s real, it can be dangerous, and one needs to take positive and forceful steps at the first signs of this dreaded fever.

Take the guy above, who is, perhaps, a good example of a person close to the terminal stage. He is either overly optimistic, or more likely, just a fool. Actually, I know that guy. He is both.

Steve Hulse

2 Replies to “Cabin Fever”

  1. Love it! I will not bore you with commentary on what the weather is here, nor will I make an excuse for my tardiness in writing! It is turning in to a compendium of verboseness! Too much to catch up on. Never the less () I always forget the hyphens), I will complete the sojourn and forward it on. I too reflect on all that has transpired, and although I am still trying to catch up to you, one of the brightest memories is that friendship that still shines between us! Reading the blog almost puts you in the room…….your scenery is much better!


  2. I prefer “growing old gracefully” even though the evidence seems to suggest that grace is a state of mind having little to do with the body. De Nile river is very deep and wide at times. It’s when I awake in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep, realizing my freaking body is trying to kill me, that I make that gratitude list. It never fails to get the wheels back on the ground in a straight line. Good on ya my friend! Thanks for the Chronicle. It gives me courage in the face of senility.

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