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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

cabin fever

Cabin fever is a phrase describing a condition that produces restlessness and irritability caused from being in a confined space. It possibly originated in the United States at the time when settlers would be snowed in to their log cabins and had to wait for the spring thaw in order to travel to town. Also the phrase may be associated with ocean-crossing sailing ships in which passengers had to endure weeks and months of slow travel while living in cramped cabins below deck.

Stir crazy is a phrase that dates to about 1925 according to one source and 1908 according to another. Used among inmates in prison, it referred to a prisoner who became mentally unbalanced because of prolonged incarceration. It is based on the slang word ‘stir’ (1851) meaning prison. It is now used to refer to anyone that becomes restless from being stuck in one place too long, with a similar meaning to cabin fever.

Being semi-confined for several weeks now, due to my back/leg problem, I’m not sure exactly which of the aforementioned conditions would be found nipping at the edges of my consciousness at various times of the day. When nipped enough, I usually respond by going out a few minutes, even if for nothing but riding down to the post office to check the mail or walking outside to make sure we are still having weather.

During one of my relatively gimp-free days last week, the confinement thing again nipped at me and I went just outside to the garden area and pulled up the dead okra stalks remaining there. Also involved in the outing was the snipping of the rest of the zinnia flower heads for next years seed – many of these have already been gathered but these were the last before I pulled up the dead flower plant skeletons. Going back inside, I admired the cleared garden area from the kitchen window.

The next morning, much to my chagrin, I realized that I had pulled up the main things that drew small birds to that area – they landed on and pecked around these stalks. The phrase came to mind that I had “shot myself in the foot”, in a manner of speaking – since I do enjoy watching the antics of these avian critters. The next best place for viewing is the back kitchen/dining area window, which includes a view of the pond. At the very moment I chose to look out this portal, a very exciting action was taking place in a tree by the water’s edge.

Much thrashing was going on in and around what looked to be a large squirrel nest about a third of the way up the tree. The movement that I could see was being done by what I finally identified as our ‘friendly’, local neighborhood hawk that has been mentioned in other missives. All during the flopping and flapping about, it seemed to have its talons attached to something in or on the edge of the nest.

Hurriedly getting my telescope and keeping my eyes on the action as well, I had just set it up and got focused on the area when I realized that there was no more movement and the hawk was gone. I surmised from what I did see that we had one less pesky squirrel and the hawk was somewhere nearby enjoying a fresh meal. This natural method of squirrel control is much more acceptable to me than having to do it myself – since I have trouble killing anything anymore.

The creatures of God’s creation and their instincts for survival continue to be amazing things to me – even though some of the survival methods seem pretty harsh – especially for the squirrel in this case. ec


Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Cabin fever comes upon one quickly; for me, I often don’t recognize it until I have been down for quite a bit.

12/05/2006 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I had always assumed that the phrase came from up north and the long Arctic nights that were spent indoors. But it was only an assumption. Whatever its origin, I hope that you are able to combat the affliction with lots of little outings and various interesting sightings through your windows.

12/05/2006 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

SSN - More than just being inside, it's the forced inactivity that bugs me.

AC - So far I'm managing with what I can do - but the back disapproves of me being more active. ec

12/05/2006 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Granny said...

I hope you'll be feeling much better soon.

Thanks for your comment. We're all hanging in. I figured out the "typo" before I saw the correction. Just figured you were so accustomed to typing the word "God" that's what flew from your fingers.

12/05/2006 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Mr. Eddie ~Sorry to hear you are still having pain and restriction of movement. You are wise to keep moving, even in shart bursts. I'm not keen on hawks as when my mother and I raised baby chickens, we had to keep a watch out for hawks that helped themselves. Thanks for your comments about the photo of Bill and me. I think he looks good for 78, though he is very thin. Also very positive and cheerful. We both hope to stay around for many years. That is in the ands of our Lord. I am
hoping to write on my Christmas cards later as I have already got
6 in the last couple of days.
Take care, Merle.

12/05/2006 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

granny - Thanks - with my ailment and with your folks there it's the waiting to find out that is the thing. But in this imperfect world, God is still good.

merle - Thanks for your concern, hope to know something in a week or so. We have yet to start on our Christmas cards, we need to get cranked up on that in the next few days ourselves. This is a great season of the year. ec

12/06/2006 06:01:00 AM  
Blogger The very nice man said...

Here's sending you a special blessings to overcome your back/leg problems and a prayer that you stay sane thoughout all of this!
These things can and do eat away on us!

12/06/2006 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger mreddie said...

the very nice man - Thanks for the blessings and prayer. The back condition, though still aggravating, has eased just a bit today - for the which I am grateful. And you are right, it does tend to eat away at one. ec

12/06/2006 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Bonita said...

Unfortunately, a good walk can cure cabin fever - that's my tactic anyway. Sorry to hear about the gimp, and I hope it becomes corrected in due time.

12/11/2006 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

bonita - That would be a good limp in my case - I can still drive without a lot of pain and do get out a little - anything helps. ec

12/11/2006 10:10:00 PM  

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