I’ve been snowbound for a week — well maybe only two days — actually about four hours — but it seems like weeks. The first day felt like a holiday. After all “snow day” means we can read books all day. I “had” to skip exercise class because the roads were dangerous. Another reason to like a snow day.
But, now I’m restless. We haven’t been stuck in the house for days on end, but many of my activities have been cancelled. Saturday, my writers group had to give up its Valentine party because high winds and blowing snow made driving unnecessarily a foolish move. Made it to the pet store today for cat food — what’s my safety compared to the cat’s happiness? — but now we’re in white out conditions again.
I have television, radio, telephone and internet plus neighbours who can walk through the snow to visit. If I get cabin fever after a few days of semi-isolation, what was it like in the 1890’s on the frontier, the era of my Prospect series?
Frontier women in the north tell of parties that went on for days–isolated settlers were so glad of company from outside they would go without sleep just to hear music and see another face.
Some pioneers dealt with the loneliness through hard work — chopping wood, carrying water, feeding livestock– and artistic pursuits. Sailors carved scrimshaw to wile away hours of inactivity. Some, usually men, took to whittling elaborate figures. Women could never afford to be idle. They turned their creativity to making quilts.
Some went mad.
In his short story, “One’s a Heifer,” Sinclair Ross writes
“You don’t know how bad it is sometimes. Weeks on end and no one to talk to. You’re not yourself–you’re not sure what you’re going to say or do.”
I remembered hearing my uncle talk about a man who had gone crazy living alone. And this fellow Vickers had queer eyes all right.
The heroines in my books always turn to hard work as a way to get through tough times. Perhaps that’s a nod to my farming background. There is always work to do — and productive work will keep you sane.
Anyone else with snow day tales to tell? Leave a comment and receive a free copy of my short story “Faith” about a woman whose plans are overset by a snowstorm.