Shakespeare & Company A Body of Water June-July 2024

Whittling Away: Cabin fever


By Dick Brooks

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of a man named Dick Brooks.

The holiday season is now officially over.

There are just a few signs of its former glory remaining. There are still Christmas lights that glow in the early winter dusk but they get fewer each night and soon will be gone except for those on the houses of the folks who celebrate the season all year-round and don’t bother to take their lights down, celebrating the Fourth of July by turning their icicle lights on. 

The massive herds of white-lighted reindeer and blow-up Santas seem to have started their annual migration to garages and attics or to wherever they summer over. Even those bastions of holiday spirit, the retail stores, have abandoned Christmas, like fickle lovers, for the next holiday to come along promising full cash registers. 

Full, voluptuous displays for Valentine’s Day greet the eye now while the few remaining Christmas items live on the discount tables. After all the anticipation and hustle bustle, there’s always a kind of sweet, sad, empty kind of feeling after the holiday season.

I, for one, shall miss her and will remember her fondly.

However, with Christmas out of the way, we can now get down to the main business here in the north country — winter! This year’s is still a puppy and already it’s gotten our attention a couple of times even before it was officially born. Too soon it’ll be screaming and howling around the house, dropping a load in the yard and in general, making a nuisance of itself. 

I see folks out every day during this mild spell taking what may be their last walk until spring.  Folks in the supermarkets are loading up on supplies. I personally picked up a barrel of flour, 10 bushels of potatoes and 50 pounds of salt pork and stored them in the cellar. I’ve hung the storm windows and banked the walls (the old ways die hard), so I’m ready. 

Now I can just sit and wait because I know it’s coming.

The worst part of winter, other than having your runny nose freeze in your moustache, is dealing with cabin fever. Cabin fever sets in when you can’t get out because of the inclement weather for days and days — just you, the family and the cats — for days and days.

The batteries for the remote give out and the television is stuck on the Home and Garden Channel. The light of your life has run out of reading material and is now mentally remodeling the whole house and describing it to you in great detail. The cats, who never liked you in the first place, have taken to running ahead of you and jumping into your chair, then glaring at you to do something about it. The supply of adult beverages starts running dangerously low. You haven’t seen another living human being for days. You’ve stopped shaving and taken to going to the door every few minutes, throwing it open and yelling to no one in particular, “It ain’t a fit night out for man nor beast!” in your best W.C. Fields voice, which is really starting to get on your wife’s nerves — things are getting tense and it’s only the beginning of January.

Like our ancestors before us, we shall survive this. Like our ancestors before us, we know how to deal with Northeast winters. Like our ancestors before us, we’re going to Florida until it warms up!

Thought for the week — Here are a few things to think about while you’re snowed in.  Pondering preserves sanity. Why do “tug” boats push their barges? Why do we call it “after dark” when it’s really “after light?” Why do they sing “Take me out to the ball game” when they’re already there? How come “wise man” and “wise guy” are opposites? And lastly… If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach columnist Dick Brooks at

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