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Cabin fever setting in strong

February 20, 2010 at 09:49 AM


When the confetti falls on the Super Bowl winner and there’s still six weeks of winter to go, cabin fever can grab you by the throat and make it hard to breathe.

Wikipedia says the symptoms of cabin fever include restlessness, irritability, forgetfulness, excessive sleeping and distrust of anyone you might be with. I’ve experienced all those symptoms in just two days in a Kansas motel room with Buckwheat. I don’t think it was cabin fever, but now I know what it feels like.

In Ireland in the 1820s, cabin fever was an actual disease that affected rural people. This cabin fever was the result of farm families eating potatoes that had become wet in winter storage cellars.

Other experts contend cabin fever takes place when people are shut in a relatively small space with nothing to do for an extended period of time.

When we were kids and snowed in at the end of a half-mile lane — sometimes for several days — my mom started to fidget about noon on the second day. She’d stand in front of the west window and try to wish the snowplow down the road. It wasn’t necessarily that she wanted to go somewhere. Simply knowing that she couldn’t was bad enough.

Cabin fever can manifest itself in the urge to go outside no matter what the weather. That explains coyote hunting, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, trapshooting in a winter league, snowshoeing and all other activities that would cause Jack Frost to put on a sweater.

Several places north of here (where it’s even colder) hold ice-fishing tournaments. If you head up to Minnesota or Wisconsin, the big-time tournaments have hefty entry fees and offer prizes like new trucks.

There, sitting in the comfort of shanties that are decked out better than budget hotel rooms, ice fishing becomes similar to a day in the deer cabin.

If you’re not up for sitting on a frozen body of water, this is a good time to give your gear a good going over. Clean your equipment, get buttons sewed back on, waterproof your boots again. Those brand-new gun-cleaning kits that have never been opened will still do the job.

Most of us leave some clothes piled in a corner, or hanging in the shed from one season to the next, and then wonder why they smell funny the next time we need them.

There is a bright spot when we’re still calculating wind chill. It’s called banquet season. Many of the conservation organizations have their annual banquets during the next couple of months. Buy a ticket and give one of them a try. You will find yourself in the company of people who share your interest in the outdoors and in supporting outdoor causes.

You may like it enough to join an organization and volunteer to help with next year’s banquet. Do that, and next year, you will be too busy to worry about cabin fever.

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