Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cabin Fever

After several weeks battling various degrees of sickness, I finally started to feel like myself again over the weekend. I was a bit antsy by Monday, after about ten days of barely leaving the house, so I treated myself to a trip to the grocery store. I wasn't even going for cough drops or Kleenex this time! It was a dreary day, with a mix of snow and rain falling throughout the morning. Luckily I returned home just before the temperature started dropping and the precipitation turned to snow for good. Then the temperatures dropped some more. On Tuesday, I stayed home, peering out the windows feeling as if I were stuck in a snow globe. Then the temperatures dropped even more. Here's a screen shot of my phone from 7:30 this morning:

With the windchill it was -30! Temperatures this low certainly aren't uncommon in this part of Montana. We almost always see a few days each year than dip below zero but this is a bit earlier in the winter than usual and it's sticking around longer too. I read in the paper that we could be getting the lowest temperatures over a ten day period in over 40 years. Even though we might experience these temperatures every year or so, it still feels absolutely brutal. You can't be outside for long with exposed skin, it can take half an hour to get your car cleaned off and warmed up, and everything is much slower like gas pumps and commutes. I know what you're thinking: Yes, it's Montana and yes people choose to live here. For the most part life goes on regularly no matter how cold it is or how much snow we get. We have plenty of inventions that make life safer and easier under these conditions like down coats, balaclavas and block heaters for our car engines. But no matter how warm I'm dressed or how prepared I try to be for winter, it always makes me throw up my hands and say "Okay Mother Nature, I get it. You're in charge." 

So even though I'm feeling better and ready to return to the world and run errands, I've stayed inside with my dogs all week as I wait out the cold snap. I've been writing, getting housework done and  watching 30Rock on NetFlix, but I'll admit I'm starting to get bored. Now that my bronchitis is gone and I can finally exercise it's too cold to run, even on the treadmill in the garage. I'm getting my cardio from playing dancing games with the XBox Kinect, which is fine but it doesn't give my dogs much chance for exercise (they just aren't very good dance partners). Instead of letting the pooches into the back yard and taking advantage of a petless kitchen to sweep the floor, I stay at the door  so I can let them in as soon as they're finished. My poor Boston Terrier puppy can barely stay out there long enough to pee on a snowy corner of the patio before darting back in. Needless to say, our housebreaking has taken a couple steps backward recently. Even my Saint Bernard mix, who likes to leisurely inspect his territory and is typically stoic when it comes to weather conditions, does his business close to the house and trots directly back to the door. 

Having five pets who enjoy the outdoors be stuck inside for days on end certainly creates some entertainment. I actually think it has forced some major steps when it comes to everyone getting along. 

Thankfully the puppy has only gotten into trouble in ways that are cute, funny and not harmful to himself. I'm constantly amazed at how quickly he can go from a dead sleep to wreaking havoc. He's keeping me on my toes, that's for sure!

Today was the first day of sunshine all week, so this afternoon when it "warmed up" to zero degrees, I started my car for the first time since Monday. It didn't start on the first try but it started. My driver's side door was frozen shut and I almost landed on my butt when it finally opened, but I was just thankful the handle didn't break off in my hand. As I drove to check the mail (the bank of mail boxes is a half mile from my house), I thought of a George Carlin quote a friend of mine in Florida often says to me when I talk about Montana winters. I'm paraphrasing here but it goes something like "I'll never live in a place where I might die of exposure going to the mailbox." That usually makes me roll my eyes but today it would be a valid concern! One of the reasons people choose to live in Montana is for all the outdoor recreation opportunities. I love to ski and snowshoe but not when it's below zero! What makes it worthwhile for me is that even though I couldn't stay outside for very long today, this is the view from my driveway:

I might have a case of cabin fever but at least I know I won't die from it!

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