Saturday, December 20, 2008


We've had several snow days recently, but only today has it increased to a level of a bona fide snow storm. So today, there will be no heading out at whim, no quick dash to the store, no going out. Period. This has its good points and a few irksome points.

I sit here watching the snow blow outside my window, collecting in lovely clumps on the camellia, admiring the contrast between the whiteness and the deep green leaves. The wind speeds up periodically causing the falling snow to swirl and it makes it feel colder somehow. The birds have disappeared, no sight at all of the ubiquitous crows that live around my home. The cool blue winter light filters through the windows giving the room a chill. And I see that the tenacious rosebud has finally given up the struggle.

I've spent most of the day puttering. The chores have been virtuously completed and a quantity of knitting has been done. In the background, A Christmas Carol is playing on the television. There is no need to go out and so I find myself content to stay in, separated from the winter outside. This was not the case earlier in the week.

During the earlier snows, when the city shut down for no apparent reason, I found myself quite restless and resentful of inactivity. It got me to thinking about the nature of cabin fever and why it hits sometimes but not at others. Today, just like those earlier days this week, I am inside and most definitely will not be going out. But today I am content whereas before I was not. So, what is the difference?

Previously, I had plans for my days and evenings and could see no good reason for those plans to be disrupted. Having grown up in a different part of the country, part of me does not totally understand how such a little bit of weather can have such widespread effect. So I went out while others stayed in lamenting their inactivity. I just wasn't fazed by it. And, I'll admit, I was also a bit cocky about my Midwestern experience of "real" winters. Don't get me wrong, I completely respect bad weather and won't engage in foolishness during a storm, but my definition of bad weather is a bit stronger than some folks.

Having had my earlier plans thwarted by what I considered insufficient reason, I really struggled with the imposed inside isolation. I thought it was because I was not able to have full freedom and control of my own activities. But I don't know that that was quite correct. Today, I am also confined to the house, as the snow continues to fall all day long. But I do not feel any of the restlessness that accompanies cabin fever for me. I am no less restricted than those earlier days, in fact, I am more snowed in now. And yet, I am content.

Perhaps the difference in my reaction lies in the recognition that this particular storm is its own restriction. It isn't imposed on me by others deciding that the weather could be bad enough to cancel my plans. This hemming in of my options is due to a truer reality than what I perceived as the timidity of others. There is no arguing with an actual storm and, thus, I don't feel constrained. I could be wrong about this. It could be that two or more days of "real" weather inactivity will bring cabin fever just as the other days did. But, for now, I am content to curl up in my chair, with my rabbit at my feet, and knit the day away.

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