Our shrinking world

Posted March 1st, 2011 by kcorliss. Comment (1).

Consider the size of an infant’s world, his universe if you will. The only thing it knows is maybe a crib and some colorful walls. Months go by and the infant crawls. Now his world is slightly larger, expanding around corners into rooms he didn’t know. Then he walks and his universe grows even more. Now he is getting into places his parents don’t want him to be, maybe even up onto the kitchen counters. He now walks alongside mom at the mall. Soon enough he learns to ride a bike. Whole neighborhoods become a new area to enter and explore. The day comes when the young lad learns to drive a car. Watch out world. His universe has now blossomed to include entire other towns, maybe even states. Finally he takes an airplane ride. There is now nowhere he can’t go. His universe is as big as it will ever get.

Eventually the gentleman ages and starts to slow down. Ultimately he retires. He doesn’t drive as much anymore, he doesn’t go out as much anymore. Night driving is difficult so he shies away from evening outings altogether. A day comes when even walking becomes problematic. Suddenly he finds himself in a wheelchair. His world has shrunk to maintained sidewalks and pavement. Stairs are once again out of the question. At last there comes a time when he is struck down by some malady. His universe, like that of an infant, has contracted to the size of a single bedroom

In a way, this is an allegory of our seasons here in the Northland, with summer being the height of one’s life. There is no where we can’t go. We play golf on maintained greens, we boat around on blue lakes, we can ride our bicycles on any piece of ground, we walk nearly any place we want to go.

Winter, on the other hand, is unbelievably restrictive to our movements. We are like the infant or the old man. Our yards are knee deep in snow which covers any vestige of green grass or gardens. Streets and sidewalks are iffy most times with varied levels of ice buildup. Lakes are covered in thick blankets of ice. Numerous township roads are not even maintained and won’t be drivable for weeks. Interstate highways close at times as a result of storms. Our world, is noticeably smaller.

As one who freely admits to an annual case of cabin fever, SAD, or whatever you want to call it, I’ve given this notion much thought. The restrictions to our movements (real or perceived) brought on by winter are difficult to internalize. If you’ve ever been to a zoo and watched a tiger pace aimlessly around in a circle, you get the idea. We want to do things, we want to walk, ride and cycle. But we are severely limited. It’s this unsatisfied urge which festers and can dominate our thoughts.

Okay, it’s been shown that lack of sunlight is causative in SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder). But at the risk of throwing out an assumption without scientific proof, I believe the feeling of being hemmed in by the season is something the experts need to examine. Is this why they call it cabin fever?

One response to “Our shrinking world”

  1. Daryl Ritchison

    You made me think of winter in a way I have never really thought of before. This is a great post. Thanks Keith, I may “borrow” this thought for either a weather talk for the paper, or in my talks in the public.