We have officially endured our first winter storm of the season, and for the most part I believe we have made it through.
I always enjoy watching the reaction of people upon notice of an impending snow storm because the grocery stores are over-run like New York City on New Year’s Eve, fuel prices of all kind tend to peak, and if you are brave enough to venture out during the blast, you can’t find a spare gallon of milk with a search warrant.
Usually, the result of such a winter climatic event is a psychological phenomenon we call “cabin rever.” I say usually because while watching the descending “white death” I noticed a tremendous number of motorists braving the treacherous conditions of the highways and roadways over the weekend, and most long before snowplows ever made a pass. Are we really that afraid of the idea of having to remain homebound for a few hours? Now, if there is a medical emergency for a family member or a friend, or your hair is on fire, then I can see that, but otherwise I don’t get it. Where are we going that is important enough to risk life and welfare?
Growing up on the farm we seldom had the chance to get cabin fever because we were out working most of the time. It seemed that there was always a cow to milk, a hog to feed, stalls to be bedded down or ice to break to make certain livestock could access drinking water, so we were always on the move even at home. Little chance for cabin fever to catch us. When we weren’t working, we were often found sled riding down a hill, building a snowman or in a snowball fight. There was always something to take our minds off the limitations the bad weather placed on us, even when our video games weren’t operating properly.
I do remember the blizzard of 1978 that socked most of the Midwest inside for what seemed to be an eternity. Cabin fever was rampant. The ice storms that struck the Ohio Valley in the early part of the 2000s not only left most of us homebound, but without electricity and water for days on end. In both events, the walls seemed to close in around us. I find it interesting though that when I ask my kids, and my brother’s daughter, to name some of the best times of their childhood, they without fail mention the ice storm. We were all huddled around a fireplace for warmth, we cooked on a gas fueled burner and obtained water from melting snow and ice.
Maybe it’s a vivid memory of times like those that instill a phobia deep inside us that makes our psyche scream for freedom. It must be akin to claustrophobia, both of which are very real. Perhaps it instills a caged animal effect in us. I do believe that we have become so much attuned to changing backgrounds thanks to videos, gaming and incessant travel that we find it difficult to remain in one place for any length of time without a changing scenery.
By contrast, we were content with staying home, making chili and lots of other comfort food, watching television, catching up on some work around the house and just hanging out with one another. I must confess that once the highways were clear, we did venture out a couple of times over the weekend to catch a movie. So perhaps, whilst I point a finger at someone else, I need to notice that three fingers are point back at me!
One thing I did find a little disheartening was that while just about every church have canceled services Sunday morning, indoor soccer venues and other recreational establishments were full. It’s like the fellow who was asked on the golf course Sunday morning why he was golfing rather than attending church that day, and he responded that it would have been impossible for him to go because his wife had the sniffles. I guess we will find a way to do what we really want to do.
If you’d like to stop by and shovel out my driveway, let me know. I’ll pull up a chair and watch. Yeah, I’m easily entertained.
Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. You can email him at [email protected] and follow his work at www.HerbDayVoices.com.