Cabin Fever

I walk up behind the Bearded One and kiss his neck.  “I’m hitting on you,” I say.

“Ouch,” he says and grins.

I laugh but I get the message.  I’ve gotten a little mean this week.  I start out nice — asking him to make the oatmeal this morning please — and then the temperature rises and I am compelled to imply that this behavior is actually expected, once in a while.

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There are excellent reasons for my bitchiness, of course.  Dream demons, twitchy legs, squeaky doors, football, the weather, hormones.  I’ve been cleaning and putting away holiday decorations, assessing my life and wondering about the New Year, and hauling around a pile of gardening books hoping to learn by osmosis.  All indoors.  The truth is that I can plan all sorts of projects for winter, but there’s nothing for the psyche like just being outside.

“I’m working outside today,” I announce, and the Bearded One nods.  He has seen cabin fever before.

January garden jobs in the Pacific Northwest are busy work, I think as I troll the wet grass and scan the bleakness.  It’s stopped raining and the wind is blowing.

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I see the wood smoke from our chimney heading straight east.  It flavors the balmy air with unmistakable cedar.  It’s a warm 40F degrees.

I brush Sage for a long time.  It’s been a year this week since these lovely goats came to our farmlet, and I can see huge progress.

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We could barely touch their noses while feeding them last year.  And now I’m the one who breaks off our session.  Time to move on.  I strap on my kneepads for the first time in weeks.  I have no real plan, just hoping they’ll lead me to another outdoor activity, and they do.

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The wheelbarrow squeaks almost as badly as the front door.  I back in between the two firewood stacks.  A series of tarps cover the stacks, overlapping like shingles on a slope to shed the rain.

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I pull the tarps back.  Moss and fungi grow on every available surface.  The huge cedars overhead creak in the wind, and I begin loading the dried wood.  I can hear the Bearded One adjusting the metal extension ladder against the house.  He lives outdoors.

I’m trundling the load up to the house when the Bearded One appears on the roof with his broom and soap.  The laundry powder, which has no bleach, kills the moss and then washes off in the rain.  He does this once a year.

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Lunch is easy tuna casserole leftovers, and after we eat, the Bearded One suggests we fix the squeaky front door together.  There are 3 pins in the 3 hinges and the Bearded One explains the steps he envisions — even though I don’t envision, my style is to just do — knocking out the pins, setting the heavy door aside, and rubbing Gulf Wax on the inner hinge surfaces.  I make an inner vow to be extra sweet to him just for this chore.

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I stand at attention as he studies the pins and talks to himself.  I tap my mental foot, waiting to get started, wondering exactly what my role is here.  What I’m supposed to DO.

Garfield watches from the couch.  He meows loudly for a treat.  “No,” I say to the cat.

The Bearded One and I maneuver the door out, and I hold it while he explains every step to me ahead of time again, every potential problem and snag, the future hell of putting the pins back in after he slowly doctors the hinges.  I pray to the rainbows and unicorns.

Garfield meows again.  “NO,” I say.  He shuts up, and I look over at my kitty and he then actually moves his mouth — Meeeee-owwwww — but makes no sound whatsoever.  Such a smart cat, I think as I take the lesson and listen and nod throughout the entire pin replacement procedure.

Finally the Bearded One swings the now-silent door back and forth.  “Done and done,” he says, and I move my mouth, but make no sound.  My cabin fever has been turned down.

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9 responses to “Cabin Fever

  1. I have been snappy at Steve lately…noticing the debris and carnage of his ways…we are SO opposite that I can’t even begin to fathom why he does what he does BUT therein lies a learning experience and a chance to become mellow and buttery and soft centred all over again about what drew me to him and what a truly good man he actually is (under all of that chaos! 😉 ). The spoon is coming…soon The Bearded One will fear cabin fever! One thing about gardening books is that they are beautiful things… they are about gorgeous unattainable gardens…they require a billion gardeners behind the scenes to maintain them and they turn their hapless humans into mindless slaves in the pursuit of their “perfection”…and the sad thing is that even then, they still don’t measure up! You need to walk around your space…your precious, special “Christi” space and open your eyes up to what it holds…what is the soil like? How much rain falls “right there…”…look at your trees, at how much wind manages to make it into your garden space (and not the angry “wind” that comes from yelling at Keith as you slam the back door 😉 )…sit down in your garden (when it stops raining and the snow clears 😉 )… right on the soil…pick some up in your hands and sniff it…let the entire space talk to you because it is ancient and primal and has a voice and we just need to learn to listen to it.

    It has been here for millenia and will be here long after our frustrated efforts to change it are flotsum in the ether and what we do to our little patch needs to be consistent with what is ultimately the best for it. It is hard to come out of horticulture with all the best ideas…”MAN I am going to change this place!…” and slowly realise that “this place” has wants and desires of it’s own. We are only caretaking our gardens for the future and these gardens flow through our veins, giving us our desire to create, to feed, to have a reason in many cases. Go and hug a tree…look up at the canopy and marvel at how awesome a concept a tree really is…the more we stop wildly gesticulating at each other and get outside into the real world, the more we can find ourselves, and our place in it. Starting a New Year always stirs up a hive of emotions, desires and hope for the future…it always points a finger at what we don’t like and very rarely bolsters our view of ourselves…diets, exercise regimes and all sorts of extreme ideas creep in as we try to change our world…to bend it to suit ourselves. You would think that humanity would have learned by now but we seem to have a God complex that would have us giving ourselves imortality at the expense of our world…
    The Bearded One is a man of processes like I am…I am outlining steps to Steve while he is wildly twitching to just “GO!”…my steps and processes are my way forward and Steve just doesn’t get it…he wants to run free like Don Quixote and I am often left sighing and trotting behind on my little donkey of resolve trying to clear up the mess that his “questing” leaves behind. I recognise that silent mouth and the mind that has gone…Gone…GONE! Behind it ;). I have my own cabin fever to encounter come June…we now have spoons to unite us and a common interest to excite us so hopefully our own squeaky door won’t cause a riot down on Serendipity Farm…but you never know… 😉

    • Oh, Fran, your comments are so rich and wise and hilarious, all at the same time. 🙂 I especially like “the debris and carnage of his ways.” LOL I am indeed the Don Quixote wild twitcher of our coupling. And you are absolutely right about establishing my relationship with the gardens afresh. I spent a lot of time with them when we first moved here 6 years ago, designing and building them, and then the Bearded One built the hoop house 2 years ago, or was it 3? The past couple of years I feel I’ve been focussed on the chickens, both layers and fryers, and the goats. A decade ago I immersed myself in the Perelandra Garden approach, working with nature spirits (devas) and flower essences and I’ve sort of let that all lapse. Something is stirred inside me reading your comment — “these gardens flow through our veins, giving us our desire to create, to feed, to have a reason in many cases” … Yes. YES. 🙂 I’ll let you and all the curious Farmlet readers know when the spoons arrive!

  2. Christine Widman

    God, Christi, I lololololololololololol at Garfield’s 3rd silent meow!
    LIfe in partnership…including pets who can annoy and endear within seconds of each other…exactly like our heart companions.
    I feel it lately with my Love not hearing and I have to be his ears. Plus the sense that he’s not “listening” to me sometimes.
    And then there’s the anticipation mingled with anxiety as we do all the medical pre-steps necessary before his cochlear implant surgery…and you know how I am about doctor stuff and hospitals.
    “Dream demons” for sure.
    I have to go outside also – for a 4 mile run in the desert. Soothes every molecule of my body and brain and soul.
    Know you are welcome here anytime for some sun and heat.
    Hugs,
    C
    PS Tell the Bearded One I love his door hinge preciseness. lolol

    • The Bearded One analyzes, and I feel my way through everything, as you know. But I can be nicer about it. Sometimes.:) What you two are coping with…deafness…is such a profound challenge to communication, my mind boggles. I’ve watched your dance together for years now — with Den’s exquisite photos and your heart connection with all things desert — and nature truly is at the core of your coping. Thanks for the open invitation to the Azure Gate…. love you!:)

  3. Beautiful personal essay, Christi!

  4. I have enjoyed reading your post (and Fran’s comment). I had a bit of cabin fever myself over the last couple of days due to a dramatic storm. All I want to do now is go to my allotment and put my hands in the dirt.

    • I read your blog about your cyclone/wind storm, Jean — it blew over your brick mailboxes! Whew! I love reading Fran’s comments, too, and your summer-time allotment adventures as our winter grinds on. Thanks for stopping by.:)

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