It is finally safe to write about this. We are truly over the danger. At least for this year. If you are a hoarder and you keep stacks of newspapers around for years, this is one you should burn immediately after reading, lest you come across this next January, February or March and decide to read it again. Because the first couple of months following the New Year’s Day are the prime times for this horrible disease to strike.
This plague is prevalent in the northern countries and the northern states of the United States. It hits hard in mountainous regions, yet can also be found in lower lands that receive a lot of rain, fog and generally gray days. It spreads like a creeping plague and can be transmitted by mere words or even suggestions. This is why I urge you to dispose of your paper after reading. What am I referring to? Measles? Chicken pox? Whooping cough? No, I am referring to the dreaded Cabin Fever.
Cabin Fever, or CF, can occur at a moment’s notice. One second the victim might be fine; going about the day watching the snow fall, keeping the fire going. But suddenly the mounds of snow go from appearing to be beautiful, pristine icing to showing themselves as a never-ending Ice Age, sparking panic, claustrophobia and worse. A person might be free of any symptoms and then someone will casually mention Cabin Fever and, BAM, the plague spreads, much like the Insomnia Plague in the book “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
I once heard a tale of an elderly couple living in upper Lost River that got CF so bad that they stopped shoveling the snow that piled up on their paths, on their porch and against their door. They allowed themselves to be completely and literally snowed in. The couple subsisted on canned goods, dried foods and meat that had been in their freezer for months. They must also have had quite a stash of alcohol, as when a hearty soul shoveled into them, they were both drunk as skunks.
Sometimes CF causes less-dangerous sorts of behavior, instead causing a sort of loopy hysteria combined with trickery, as happened a number of years ago and played out on the Methow’s Main Stage, the Methownet.com Bulletin Board. This was before the bulletin board got the ol’ lockdown and snarky trolls were allowed.
Someone exhibiting symptoms of CF posted on the BB claiming to be looking for a place in the Methow that was near a mine and possibly near an abandoned ski lift. The initial post began fairly benign and seemed like a joke, but perhaps was not. But then every valley resident that read the post must have contracted CF, as the follow-up posts and responses just got wilder and wilder. There was a person named Roscoe involved, the Feds, and a hidden treasure. I heard of some people sitting at their computers just refreshing the web page all day to read new comments. If I remember right, there were over 5,000 views of this particular post. Then one day, spring arrived, the post disappeared and that year’s CF epidemic was over.
What can be done to protect you and your loved ones from Cabin Fever? There is no surefire vaccination other than poking your eyes out. And this is not recommended. Happy spring! We made it!