The Northern Michigan JournalNM LIVINGNEXT

The Strategies of March
by Duncan Sprattmoran

With March spring begins to tease us, the lakes are frozen solid and the sun makes it higher into the sky each day. March is also the month we all suffer cabin fever in a major contagious dose. You go to the super market to buy some oranges from Florida for some vitamin C and come home to find you've contracted a bad case of the cabin fever blues. The four walls of the house are too tight, the couch too hard, and your true love is just as blue as you, and so you really don't want to do the things you have to do. Even sex and cooking become strained in March when you know the sap is pooling in the bottom of the roots but hasn't started to rise yet and there's nothing to buy but rutabagas, beets and potatoes.

But the sun does begin to shine, and with each extended afternoon, the blues begin to boil and you think that you could take the funky sap that runs through your veins and boil it down into the quintessence of sweet. On sunny March days I walk through the house naked, warmed by the heat pouring through the windows. I pretend it is summer even though the thermometer may not even read over twenty. And on those days when the ice begins to melt, the sun to shine more brightly than it did in January, the chickadees to flit around as if the spring has come, I begin to imagine that winter has really come to an end, that the verdancy of May when trillium and morels spring from the leafmold will be here in just a few days.

But tomorrow is bound to be cold again and the clouds will lower, a grey ceiling that presses down on the treetops, and now instead of snow, which at least redeems us all with the prospect of skiing, rain falls. And the rain is cold, grayer than the clouds, and the house grows chilly despite the furnace putting out the heat, and the self wants nothing but to run unfettered through a blossoming world. In March in northern Michigan the garden of Eden is a cruel dream which we wake from and remember through out the day. Sin becomes a fantasized possibility, a smorgasbord of sensuality the cold precludes. Wanting to fall in love, we drink too much beer and say stupid things to our friends and go home and rue our words within the insulated confines of our walls. Wanting easy redemption, we pour through the catalogs and charge to the limit of our gold cards.

This afternoon the light was golden and these stratagem were at worst banal and at best reinforced the deleterious effects of the weather. I daydreamed the afternoon away, imagining all I could do once the weather gets better, where I could go once the ice leaves the roads. For a case of cabin fever I retreat into my studio and throw paint, tear paper, strum wildly on my guitar, hammer on the keyboard hoping to make some sense of the malaise which grips me. Each of these things works to pass the time, to make me forget the inexorable fact that winter is still here by the calendar (remember that summer when Pinatubo blew up and it frosted in July).

And yet I can never fully fool myself into believing there is a cure for cabin fever. There's really nothing you can do but read a good book, drink some tea, crawl deeper under the blanket and believe summer must follow winter, that the complement to the blues are naval oranges, sweet as a sentimental remembrance, thick skinned as the best of them.

And on those days when the temperature climbs and the sun brings sweat to the brow, I think: "I've made it somehow, survived yet another case of cabin fever".

The Northern Michigan JournalNM LIVINGNEXT

mail to nmj

NMJ Land - NMJ Views - NMJ Community - NMJ Living

NMJ Home Page

webdesign by leelanau communications

northern michigan journal advertisers