the teeming underbelly of the South Dakota prairie
Monday, January 1, 2018
South Dakotans are a practical, innovative people.
Take today, for example: It’s -23 degrees here this morning. That’s REAL temp,
folks (the wind chill was -35 when I woke up). The dogs went out this morning
and tried to pee standing on one foot. The outdoor thermometer froze at -10 and
refused to budge. Needless to say, there’s no going out in cold like this—in
under 10 minutes, frostbite can turn skin to blue glass.
When you’re stuck in the house for a few days, cabin
fever is an ever-looming possibility. And unless you live alone, two or more of
you are facing a WHOLE LOT of togetherness. The novice will experience the
typical stages of cabin fever: Stage 1: You’re delighted to be able to
reconnect with each other. You have conversations. Stage 2: You enjoy some “us”
time, then you each wander off on your own for a while. Stage 3: You avoid a
room with anyone else in it and only grunt if you pass someone in the hall. Stage
4: Nerves are like stripped wires. Sparks fly. Fires start. There is no Stage 5.
But because cabin fever is an annual risk for
prairie people, we’ve come up with ingenious ways to hold it off until help
(temps above -5) arrives:
1. Nap. Several times a day. In fact, since it’s
hard to tell day from night when you’re snowed/frozen in the “cabin,” all your
sleep should now be naps. If you’re not actually napping, pretend. Make snoring
2. Eat. This is a favorite strategy for Midwesterners.
Bake. Cook. Eat. Experiment with what you have on hand: red hot candies,
marshmallows, potato chips, Jell-O, 5 jars of mayonnaise, 2 power bars, cheese,
pickles, dark chocolate, frozen hotdog buns, canned jalapenos, garam masala, truffle
salt, croutons. Eat some more.
3. Make an elaborate hanging, moveable swing for
your African grey parrot, because on Day 3 of this, you binged documentaries,
one of which was Bird Brain, and now
you NEED to move your parrot from
room to room with you.
4. Go through the bin in which you’ve been saving makeup
you’ve collected since 1975 (including the ice-white, sparkly Pot ‘O Gloss lip
gloss you bought when you were 15). Throw out at least 3 things (but not the
Pot ‘O Gloss).
5. Clean/organize your fridge. Clean/organize your
pantry. Clean/organize your cupboards. Then see #2.
6. Wash every rug in the house.
7. Sort out your yarn and knitting projects. Shelve
17 half-finished projects, individually bagged and including patterns and
appropriate needles. Shelve your yarn stash, organized by weight, color, and
fiber content. File extra patterns in a 3-ring binder with transparent sleeves.
8. Start a NEW
knitting project, and knit while you binge-watch British cop shows or
documentaries on whales, birds, or elephants.
9. Take a shower at least once. Don’t bother with
shaving, nail-trimming, chin-hair plucking, etc. You can do that someday when
you can leave the house again.
10. Start a new batch of kombucha. In fact, turn
your dining room table into a kombucha factory. Start a batch with each of the
23 scobies in your scoby hotel. Spend an hour or two making adorable labels for
kombucha bottles, with cute names like Stir Crazy Strawberry and Gone Bonkers
11. Stay hydrated. Water is good, but Bailey’s and
coffee is more practical: It will keep you awake to tackle projects, and it
will soften those unfortunate run-ins you have with other humans. Also, see
12. Build a new set of shelves out of an old plank
table and some crown molding. See #7.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. One
last tip: If the weather doesn’t break by, say, Day 7 or 8, put on EVERY stitch
of clothing you own, wrap your feet in plastic bread bags under fur mukluks,
and make a break for it. Because any more togetherness than that, and it won’t