Dear Plumas County Winter,
You win. I’m not even playing the game anymore. You win, I forfeit. Like other people who have grafted themselves onto the mountains of Plumas County, I pride myself in being able to take pretty much anything.
Four days without power? Bring it on. Gas shortage in town because of panic? I got this. Grocery stores emptied out of basics because of a rush? I got a garage that would make bunkered apocalyptic men weep.
Prior to moving up to the mountains nearly 17 years ago, I worked in Southeast Asia with Habitat for Humanity — that was amazing training for so many things. Made me a less uptight parent and made me appreciate indoor plumbing and rebar. That training in making due, in services not being reliable, was awesome training for a life in the mountains.
My nerves are shot. I thank goodness for all that time spent playing driving video games in college. It has helped my reflexes in dodging boulders and tire-killing rocks.
But. I. Just. Can’t. Do. It. Any. More.
In 1999, I watched this creepy but oddly compelling documentary at The Castro in San Francisco by James Marsh called “Wisconsin Death Trip.” It was based on a 1973 book of the same title by Michael Lesy — which I immediately went out and found afterwards. The book and film were based on 19th century photographs — many taken for newspaper stories at the time — of poor rural Wisconsin’s struggles. In a 10-year period in the then remote Black River Falls area — inhabitants fell to crime, disease, and mental illness — mostly in winter — and began harming themselves and others.
I have no problem believing that premise now.
I have — what many of us here probably have — a good deal of cabin fever. I barely have a right to it — I got out a week ago for four days to San Francisco. I literally watched from a friend’s window of her Russian Hill apartment as the recent storms headed east and north to Plumas County and felt blessed that I could stay with a friend with my daughter and her friend for a few days of weather sanity. You know cabin fever is affecting teenagers when you can get them to walk miles in San Francisco without complaining about their feet hurting.
I have been on Zillow.com eight times this week looking for houses in Orange County — a county I used to look on with disdain — all because I need sun. I’m falling for real estate descriptions that say “bright and sunny” and “feel like you live at the beach” and other obnoxious descriptions.
My friend Kelsha did a post on Facebook this week where she addressed cabin fever being a very real thing for many us. How many of us are out there silently exploding inside because of stepping knee deep in slush water on the way to their car door this morning? You are not alone, she reminded.
People weighed in. There are some of us bursting into tears at Safeway for no apparent reason. There are those of us who feel claustrophobic at the sight of snow piled over waist high on either side of their driveways. Historically, winters are bad for domestic violence; people decide to divorce in winters more than summers. Use of drugs and alcohol goes up for many.
I don’t drink or take anything and that’s perhaps why winter feels so damn long.
There’s only so many books you can read, so many Netflix series you can binge watch, so many quaint pots of soup you can make before you’re screaming ENOUGH at the wallpaper.
The struggle is real for those of us born into Mediterranean climates. Everything about this onslaught of cold, gray, slush screams NO. My daughter was born in Reno though and we can literally see her soul rise and get happy when we near the coast and sun. Conversely, we can see depression setting in as well.
Some people make New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps we do that because it’s winter and we have too much time to think and too much time to sit around eating cheese and watching our behinds get larger in the chair. I make them. They are usually about things I want to create.
I have a new thing I want to create — a new goal. I love Plumas County, I really do — but I want to be a snowbird. I want to live here from April to October and I’m not ashamed and I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m weak for saying it.
A few hippie types weighed in on Kelsha’s Facebook page with “cycle of the seasons” and other such smug finger waving. I’m not refuting that we should have seasons. I’m not refuting that we definitely need the snowpack to make up for years of drought. I GET that we need you, Winter, but do you have to be such an unrelenting jerk about it?
I just looked out the window. We had snow earlier this morning. Rain all night. Now sleet. Oh, how much fun you are, sleet. My snow boots and socks have been sitting on the radiator and are barely dry enough to go back out in you, Winter. I’m headed to the gym to work on my atrophying muscles.
And for you snowbirds of Plumas County? I am so sorry for all the times I made fun of you in the past. It was just envy. I wanna be you now. I will be you now. Life goals. Winter? Go die.