Cabin Fever · 26 December 2008

To just about anybody not living in the Puget Sound area, a foot of snow probably does not seem like much for a northern area. After all, places on similar latitudes get lots of snow. But here in the Northwest, snow cripples cities because it is pretty rare. But just because we do not get snowed in very often, we do have other forces of nature that keep us indoors and give us cabin fever.

I remember a Sunday long ago that was the beginning of a long stretch of inside living. It was May 18, 1980. The sun was shining on the way to church, but on the way home, it looked like we might have a thunderstorm. We saw what we thought were dark clouds rolling in on Spokane. Something did fall from the sky that day, but it was not rain. It was ash. Mount Saint Helens had erupted and it seemed like the whole Eastern side of the state was ashed-in.

Since volcanoes erupting and ash falling from the sky are not common events in the state of Washington, my mom told us to go outside and stick a piece of paper on the ground to catch the ash. She wanted to save some for posterity. Our family laughs at that suggestion now because when all was said and done, we had a couple inches of ash on the ground. Some places had much more than we did, but we had enough. So much that I am sure that my parents still have at least one coffee can of the ash that we shoveled off the driveway.

After the novelty of the ash went away, we found that we could only play so many games of Monopoly or put together so many puzzles. My brothers, sister, and I even found out that we could only bug each other for so long before it got boring. Days of being cooped up in the house took their toll. We got bored and wanted to get outside. We got cabin fever.

Last year, my family and I went through much the same thing. Without power. The kids could probably last for weeks without going outside as long as they had video games to play if they had parents who would let them. They might not even know if it was sunny or cloudy, day or night, raining or snowing. Being boys, they would probably suspect that they needed to eat every now and then, but they could probably play video games to the exclusion of all else if we let them.

When the power went out last year, we let them play their hand-held games until the charge was gone. The first time the power went out, the charge held out the whole time. But during the long power outage, we were forced to have a slumber party in the master bedroom which has a fireplace. Even a Nintendo DS must be charged every once in a while and even a few days without power means lots of time without a video game. Like my parents before me, I found out that there are only so many things to do when everybody is held hostage by the elements. And it is even worse when everybody is in the same room twenty-four seven. Fortunately, books came to the rescue during the day and sleep came at night.

Personally, I love the snow. I love the cold air and the quiet when the ground is covered in white. I even like to shovel snow from the driveway and sidewalks. In the snows of 2008, I have been able to avoid cabin fever so far by getting out to sled with the kids, shovel snow, and build a snow sculpture or two. So far, we have not lost power so I can get on the computer to write and surf.

I know that the snow will eventually stop and the roads will be clear of snow and ice. Hopefully, we will not get to the point where we find out just how many games it takes to finally get bored. Hopefully, we can keep playing in the snow and getting fresh air and getting out of the house. Hopefully, we can keep from having all the tables in the house covered with jigsaw puzzles. Hopefully we can avoid cabin fever. Hopefully.

© 2008 Michael T. Miyoshi

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