PAT NEAL: A new cure for cabin fever

THE HOLIDAYS ARE over. Only the mess remains.

Not being one to put off until tomorrow what can be put off for today, it’s time for some serious house cleaning.

Cleaning your house is one of the most effective ways to combat the ever-present threat of cabin fever.

If you don’t know what cabin fever is, you’re probably not from around here.

Or maybe you think you cured cabin fever on a fancy vacation to a tropical paradise with little umbrellas in your juice and a bigger umbrella to shield you from the sun.

All the while sending pictures to the poor folks back home of you swimming with the sharks, the whales and the turtles while checking with the house sitter about what to do when the basement floods, the water pipes freeze and the power goes off long enough to thaw the leftover meatloaf in the freezer.

Don’t worry, those of us whose financial or xenophobic instabilities cause us stay at home and suffer through the winter will get our revenge when you return from your tropical vacation.

Even the most hard-partying tropical vacationer has to come home to the cold-gray wet of a North Olympic Peninsula winter sometime.

When they do, the rest of the rabble will be waiting with a list of I-told-you-so’s as long as your arm.

As the tropical vacationers hack their way through one box of tissue after another in an attempt to clean out the masses of sludge in their sinuses, we’ll tell them how flying on a jet is one of the best ways to pick up the many trendy new strains of flu, colds by intestinal disorders you can get from sitting cooped up cheek and jowl in a fetal position with a couple of hundred other sick people encased in a tin can with no air.

At least the rest of us have sense enough to catch the flu at home, where it is way cheaper and a lot more convenient.

Even if our modern air travelers survive this airborne health hazard, they are liable to come down with a malady more potent than all the colds and flu combined once they get home.

That would be the cabin fever.

This year’s strain of cabin fever is even more virulent than last year’s, where some of us were forced to undergo challenging and strenuous treatments just to pick up the pieces of our simple lives and go on to survive the winter.

Experts agree that house cleaning is one of the most effective ways of dealing with cabin fever.

A good place to start might be to shovel the holiday leftovers out of the refrigerator.

As with any tough job, you’ll need the right tools to get it done properly.

A hypoallergenic blue plastic tarp placed in a centrally located strategic location to encase the excess holiday flotsam can be a godsend in dealing with the problem.

Unless your blue tarp is on the roof.

It’s okay.

Don’t get bogged down in the details as an excuse for doing nothing.

Most house cleaning projects are simply a matter of delegating, prioritizing and moving on to the next disgusting chore on the endless list of stuff you should be doing today.

Lately, I’ve discovered a new and easier method of avoiding housework and cabin fever altogether.

It can short-circuit the brain muscle into thinking you’re doing something when in fact you’re sitting there doing nothing.

It’s quick, it’s easy and perfectly legal in all 50 states the last time I checked.

It’s so simple even I can do it. It’s called writing.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patnealwild