April is supposed to be the cruelest month, but I vote for February and some of March, too. That’s when everyone I know starts to crack from too much cold, too much snow, and not enough getting out of the house. Serious cabin fever sets in, and the fault lines in our emotional foundations start to show. So what do you do when you’ve been trapped inside for weeks and your last nerve is starting to fray? In my house, we start by acknowledging our predicament. We stop fighting being stuck indoors and embrace the concept. Movie nights are a favorite antidote, and we make them special by picking a classic with a message to share as a family. Last week, for example, we made some popcorn, watched Dances With Wolves and had a conversation about the film’s history. To Kill a Mockingbird is up next. We also have a weekly game night with the neighbors because they’re stuck, too. It breaks dour moods, and the grown-ups love it as much as the kids. It matters not who wins. We all get to claim victory over monotony, which works out because I'm terrible at Pictionary. My wife has been teaching cooking to our daughter, who last week made her first quesadilla. (Verdict: pretty good!) There have been lessons in eggs and tomato sauce. Also pancakes and waffles. My daughter gains culinary skills, and I gain weight, a small price to pay for a happy kid. (We always clean up with products from Seventh Generation!) Sewing is another pastime we’ve embraced. We made new pillowcases out of some fun fabric. Then we took the scraps and made doll pillows and cedar sachets with needles we’d saved from the Christmas tree. (I know, I know… heavy on domesticity but if you have other suggestions send them my way!) We also have a puppy. I’m not suggesting getting one to cure your own cabin fever—they’re a serious responsibility—but we’ve got tons of hours to teach ours tricks and obedience, which kills a lot of the time we’d probably otherwise spend killing each other. The point is that it doesn’t matter what you do only that you do something, anything, to keep everyone amused when the weather isn’t funny. The result is some pretty cool entertainment. And, dare I say it, I might even miss these snowbound hours when they’re gone. photo: Lori L. Stalteri
The Inkslinger has written about environmental issues for over 20 years and is a freelance writer for some of America's most iconoclastic companies and non-profits. His true loves include nature, music of the Americana/rock and roll variety, interior design, books, old things, good stories, pagan rituals, and his wife of 24 years, with whom he lives in an undisclosed chemical-free rural Vermont location along with his teenage daughter and two infinitely hilarious Australian shepherds!