Monday, 23 January 2017

The annual cabin fever post

A thaw at this time of year isn't necessarily a good thing, and we've been in the midst of one for too long. It certainly isn't pretty. The snowbanks are gritty and brown, the roads are riddled with pot holes which are full of water. Cars going through the pot hole/lake just out there on our street splash brown water almost to the house. Yuck.

The snow pack is still plenty deep but it isn't reliable. With the thawing and freezing it's layered so that every step is a new encounter. Snowshoes get caught in that mess, bringing you down and twisting an ankle in the process. Paths are icy and treacherous. I haven't been able to have a decent walk in too long.

So, fine then, I hibernate.

I decided not to put out the bird feeders this year - partly due to expense and spotty availability of seed (we literally had to go from town to town in search of last year), partly due to one too many batches of said seed being 'off'; I don't want to poison the birds. They are wild birds after all, and can manage on their own, my feeding them was more for my entertainment than any need on their part. Without any 'good' reason to risk my neck in the aforementioned treacherous snow pack or paths in the back yard, I barely stick my nose out most days.

No bird feeder makes it awfully quiet out there anyway.

Today I woke up feeling fine but as the day progressed I felt like I had a hole in me somewhere that my energy was leaking out of. I'd eaten well (enough), I'd slept okay, I'm not sick, per se, it just felt like there was more gravity than usual - you know that feeling? Just getting up for another cup of tea felt like work. If I could have made it to the bedroom I would have napped, but inertia kept me at the table, on the laptop, checking in on my friends' blogs, chuckling at the news (because you may as well laff). By about noon I was starting to fret about what to make for the evening meal. At this time of year, when boredom is the watchword, nothing appeals. Nothing. I love to cook, but right now I feel like all I'm doing is rearranging the same ingredients over and over and I'm just about wrung fresh out of ideas.

Finally, my hero of a husband volunteered to do a bit of shopping and make supper (bless him), and I sorta kinda felt better knowing that wasn't looming over me.

It struck me that I literally could not recall the last time I had any fresh air. "This is not a good thing" said I to myself. "Get out there."

Layers were donned. The thermometer says it's "warm" for this time of year, but melting snow plus a brisk east wind makes it easy to catch a chill. Pyjama pants in lieu of longjohns, dress, another dress, turtle neck sweater, leg warmers and warm socks, boots, coat, scarf for head (that damp wind is evil on the ears), gloves. Lastly, a mug of yogi tea. All this to sit on the back porch for 10 minutes! hahahahaha ...

But it was worth it. Raven was wheeling through the sky yonder, over the old school yard. I called to him, he called back, circled, did a few tricks, called again and sailed away. As I stood there laughing at his retreating form, the air was nearby was suddenly full of wings and the tree tops filled up with starlings.

They stared down at me. Dozens of little birdy faces looking my way. It was uncanny, a bit unnerving. They were silent, so was I. I didn't want to speak lest I scared them off again but I was so charmed to see them - I know they're 'only' starlings, and common, but I'm not prejudiced - that I finally couldn't help it and called out 'hello' in that sing song voice that birds sometimes like. They didn't take off, instead they began to chirple and whistle as starlings do.

The sky was grey yet glaringly so, so all I could see was their outlines on the branches and I thought again of how they look like musical notes on sheet music. I remembered my half formed thoughts as I was waking up this morning, that birds' wings must stir the air magnetically .. whatever that meant. Morning, half dreamed thoughts are often quite strange, aren't they. Yet it makes some kind of crazy sense to me, and as I thought it some of the birds, about a quarter of them, fluttered off, stirring the air. Then another group, then another .. and they were gone.

When I came back in, I felt a little more alive. It's just lack of wild that's getting to me. So I made nettle infusion for later, ate a couple of leaves from the potted dandelion on my windowsill (what a brilliant idea that was if I may say so myself) had a spoonful of rosehip syrup and another of mullein, had a shower and used comfrey root tincture as moisturizer and massaged my scalp with nettle root tincture and between the birds and the weedy remedies I feel less like gravity is going to grind me into the floor. I'd say into the ground but ground is something I have not touched in a long time and won't for some time to come.

Winter is long here, so we don't dare think about spring too much. 'Spring' proper isn't until April, perhaps May. Instead of yearning for something so far off, we carve winter into manageable chunks, choosing dates that if we can just survive to, we figure maybe we'll make it through. The next one is February 2nd, aka Groundhog's day, not that any self-respecting groundhog around here would stick his nose out unless dragged out (much like me, right now). But it is the midway point between winter solstice and vernal equinox, and it is right there on the foreseeable horizon. I might make it.

That's Luna, the husky who lives across the street.
She's bored too.


  1. Yes, it was a brilliant idea potting dandelions. Ours have all disappeared and I was really in the mood for a few bites the other day. Given the cold shocks and our piddly snow and ice, I suspect they won't show for at least another month.

    1. They never missed a beat, those dandelions, I'm most impressed. I'm sure you recall me whining about how much I've missed that bittersweet taste in winters past.

      I have a sprouting sweet potato on the go now too, just potted it up a few days ago and it's leafing out nicely. The leaves are edible. Not quite wild food, but a novelty. We need novelty right now.

  2. Birds in trees or on lines against a grey sky in winter DO look like musical notes on paper! How lovely!

    We are beating our cabin fever a little by having a chess club for my kids and the homeschool kids at our house. My kids begged. But it's going really well. I think the others are all happy to get out and have a purpose to go somewhere, and I'm happy to hostess. (I don't like to go out too much and I don't mind muddy carpets.) And then, later the kids have a good time trying to beat their dad at chess. I don't like chess. We won't be here forever, so I know we will have fond memories of dark cold days and chess.

    I would like to go for a walk, but it is so slippery I'd have to invest in spiked shoes. Maybe I should.

    Winter-one chunk at a time!

    1. Chess - there's a thought, smart kids for coming up with that. I'm not even sure we have a chess board any more. But we have Scrabble! Love Scrabble.

      I'm considering a spiked walking stick.

  3. Oh my! And here, it is too warm. My dandies are flowering all over. I don't complain ever about our weather. Not when so many of you have harsh winters. When I lived in Iowa, that was severe; so I can at least empathize! Bless all of you.

    1. You're going to do something with those blooming dandelions, right?
      Bless you too, Sister.

  4. Uh, yeah! Munch. Ha ha Not enough to harvest because I want them to propagate. Last year, we didn't have many.

    1. I'm curious - Did you have a hot spring/summer last year? Seems to me we have fewer in hot years.

  5. Yes we had an incredibly warm/hot spring. Did them in as, you know, they like it coolish. With all the rain we had from the two hurricanes and storms a few months ago, the damp soil with these warmer winter days has stimulated them to burst forth right now. And to think so many folks spray them with weed killer!

    1. Hmmm - if I give my windowsill potted dandies a super-good soaking, maybe they'll bloom for me ..