Our second Arctic cold snap of the season has arrived, with the high temperatures today only reaching -7 degrees and temperatures overnight heading towards -20 or colder. The air is so frosty that it even hurts to breathe deeply, it seems to scorch your throat and lungs as you breathe in and out. One of the things we found out tonight is that apparently the snow gets so cold during this time that it even hurts the dog’s paws. As we took them out for a short walk to do their business, they started picking up their paws very awkwardly, as if they were walking across hot coals, but in this case, it was the opposite, walking through polarized crystals of snow.
It’s days like these where I suppose the phrase, “Cabin Fever” originates from. The actual idiom first came about in 1918, and has a negative connotation of referring to the irritability folks can get when holed up inside due to adverse weather conditions. But for myself, much to the contrary, I feel a sense of content during days like these. When the weather turns cold and brisk like this, I find a certain sense of comfort from being snug and warm in our log home, snow covering the ground, the fire burning bright in the stove. I feel at peace just curling up with a good book, the quiet of the hushed snow and cold, sipping a cup of tea or hot cocoa. It makes me reflect on the kinds of people that in fact, make their home here in Nederland.
It’s interesting during our five years spent living here, meeting the other neighbors who have come and gone — some going on thirty years of making their home here, and some leaving within a year or two. Many of those who only last a year or two, and move on, refer to the isolation, and lack of social activities nearby as a driving force. Many of the couples we know are split, with one loving the life in the mountains, and the other desperately wanting to move to the city below. It’s too quiet, it’s too cold, it’s too snowy, it’s too far away from a movie theater. One woman we know, Barbara, says she’s unhappy if she can’t drive down to Boulder every day. In reality, Nederland is only 17 miles from Boulder and with normal driving conditions, a 30-minute drive. But for myself, I find that many times, the thought of going down “below” is exhausting, and that left to my own devices, I could hole myself up here in our mountain refuge for days on end. I perceive the distance to be much greater psychologically than it is in terms of time and distance. When I drive home from work, and wind my way up Boulder Canyon, pulling down our narrow dirt road to our log cabin in the woods, I feel a sense of peace and content to have returned to our mountain refuge. I consider myself lucky to have found a partner in life, who feels the same way about our chosen home and way of life.