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Hummel column: Cabin fever is not fatal

Detroit Lakes Newspapers columnist Lynn Hummel recently published his fourth book, "The Last Word," a collection of some of his favorite columns from the past 40 years.

During the long siege of brutally cold temperatures, heavy snow, church cancellations, school and business closings and general hunkering down in mid-January and early February, there was general grumbling about "cabin fever."

Cabin Fever, as defined, is the general irritability, listlessness and boredom resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors during the winter.

The good news is that cabin fever is not fatal. I am of the opinion that cabin fever is a relatively recent concept and is symptomatic of a certain softness that is embarrassing to admit.

We have all read about the Battle of the Bulge fought in France and Belgium near the end of World War II in December of 1944 and January of 1945, when the Germans launched their final major offensive of the war — counting on severe weather and American troop fatigue due to continuous combat.

The weather was horrible and the troop fatigue was severe. Read Stephen Ambros' Battle Of The Bulge about frozen American feet, spending weeks in the same underwear, lack of replacement personnel and scarce, cold meals. Over 700,000 American men were engaged in the combat. There were 85,000 casualties who were killed, wounded, missing or captured.

Heroic service. These Americans prevailed and were later labeled "The Greatest Generation." They prevailed because they were tough — no talk about cabin fever in the winter of 1944-45 in the Battle of the Bulge.

The next generation was the post-war Baby Boomer generation born between 1943 and 1964. This was a generation that enjoyed prosperity their parents had never known. With this prosperity a certain softness developed and cabin fever came along during the cold winter months.

Again, cabin fever is not fatal. Even when the weather is severe, there is relief outside — in brief interludes. Some fresh air and a change of scenery helps heal. Take a short hike outdoors.

I keep urging you to be readers. Get a good book at the library (like Battle Of The Bulge, for example), and read about that heroic struggle. There is no boredom in that story

Or read a Jack London book about life in the harsh Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897. Hardships aplenty, but no cabin fever. There doesn't have to be loneliness, either. Reach out to a neighbor spending the winter in a warm place. Without needling, find out about life where it's warm and share some details of your shut-in winter existence. The cabin is a good place to do your indoor hobbies — get ahead.

One other cure for cabin fever — write an article about cabin fever. This writer is no brilliant Jack London, but London drank himself to death at the age of 40. The bottle is not anti-cabin fever medicine. Hang in there — we're all in the same cabin.