News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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January 15, 2014

RONN MOTT: Cabin Fever

I ran across the term “cabin fever” in a book when I was a kid, and I saw it demonstrated in some old movies also when I was a youngster. I ran headlong into it this past couple of weeks when we were graced with the most amount of snow and cold temperatures this area has had in 40 years.  

Actually, if you borrowed the old Boy Scout slogan (only old because I was so young when I was involved in the Boy Scouts) “Be Prepared.”  Fortunately, in this last go around with Mother Nature, we did not have to survive without heat, running water, or electricity. So the cabin fever aspect was somewhat nullified by the fact we had the ingredients for a comfortable existence if we did not try to venture out into the cold and snow.  

Before the first wave of heavy snow hit, the wife had gone to the grocery store and we were set to survive no matter what.  The electricity didn’t fail so we had heat and entertainment. That, coupled with the book I’m reading on World War II, gave me the necessary sustenance to not only survive the cold weather, but endure it … actually, enduring it rather easily.

It was easy because I am lazy.  That is, I don’t have to be doing something in a constructive fashion in order to be happy with myself and surroundings. I suppose I could be content in an igloo if I had all the things I have described. The biggest problem the snow gave us, other than being pretty much trapped in the house, was trying to get the cats to understand that when it is 10 degrees below zero a young cat’s fur is not going to be enough.  I don’t think I ever got this point through to them during this period of ice and snow.

Once outside, our male cats were too smart to stay out too long, and our little girl cat just didn’t want to go out at all. She has a good thing going and she knows it. So, the biggest problem was little cat survival and it has occurred. The old cat that was lost, or left behind and left to his own efforts without human assistance, has been given sanctuary in our garage. The wife made a box for him to further hold off the cold temperatures and he is being fed by us on a daily basis.  

So, other than my car battery being as dead as a door nail, and perhaps a small leak in our roof, we have not only survived the latest Polar Vortex, we have prevailed. (This is a small bit of language I stole from William Faulkner.)

Reading, radio listening, TV watching, and cat wrangling, kept the cabin fever from being a total bore. And if the next blast of winter gives us enough lead time, we shall endure it as well as we did the first one. Of course, being in a semi-state of retirement, meaning we have no place to go on a daily basis, makes it easier to endure cabin fever.  

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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