Winter acquisitive syndrome

Snow falling on a sub-zero January night on our little house in the North Country can trigger bouts of winter acquisitive syndrome.

Snow falling on a sub-zero January night on our little house in the North Country can trigger bouts of winter acquisitive syndrome.

…some part of my brain goes haywire because I cannot hibernate for the next ninety days as so many North Country species do. There is probably some medical term for this phenomenon… …like “emotional compensation for seasonal affective disorder caused by winter isolation and sunlight deprivation.”

 

Winter acquisitive syndrome

The doldrums of January tempt me to commit the sin of covetousness. Like all minions of this consumer society, I have been conditioned to believe that my winter depression will be cured by buying a new toy.

Gloomy and dejected on this snowy day when the hunting seasons are over, the thermometer on the deck reads five below zero, one of the dogs has chewed to rags the new wool socks I got for Christmas, and the bathroom scales indicate I have added seven pounds during the Thanksgiving-through-New-Year eating binge, I can’t decide whether to commit suicide or go bowling. The sun rises at 7:40 a.m. and sets at 4:45 p.m. and the other fifteen hours of the day are spent huddling in the dark by the woodstove drinking endless cups of tea and reading articles in AARP magazine about arthritis and incontinence.

Desperate to escape the winter blues, I open my computer, go online, and search for an affordable trip to Southwest states. This is not an uplifting pastime. For one thing, I worked three years in southwest Texas (actually, one thousand one hundred nine days and seventeen hours), and I left with no desire to return. Ever.

Winter fugitives from the North Country refer to the Southwest as The Sunbelt. I call it The Thirstbelt. It is mostly desert. If the gods had meant for me to winter there they would have provided water as well as warmth and sunshine. January through March can be harsh and nasty up North, but the desert Southwest is harsh and nasty January through December. The only green places are golf courses, and I do not play golf. I hate golf.

Also, I am a cantankerous vacationer, and finding places that will welcome a grumpy guest who travels with two large and flatulent bird dogs is a challenge.

Having failed to brighten my spirits with a computer search for snowbird opportunities, I drift away to other websites and – what’s this!? A nearby gun shop has listed a bargain price for a Browning X-Bolt Hunter rifle in 7mm-08 caliber. Excellent anti-depressant medicine!

Dreaming of this perfect rifle, I can see myself mounted on a handsome roan horse, heading up into the Rocky Mountains some chilly October morning on a mission to find, stalk and shoot a record 12-point mule deer buck. Just like the ruggedly handsome character in the Browning advertisement. Him and me, partner, we’re cut from the same leather – except he may be thirty years younger, in considerably better physical condition, experienced in the ways of mountain hunting, and not prone to collapse from altitude sickness.

No matter, I will become him and enter that mythical world of hunting mulies in the Western wilderness if, and only if, I can acquire that Browning bolt-action rifle.

Looking upon the south wall of my clubhouse where the mount of the trophy deer head will someday hang, I realize how much I need this rifle. Optimism, esteem, and a new outlook on life can all be mine for less than $900 – plus some loose change for a few accessories: scope, sling, hard case, scabbard, reloading dies, 7mm bullets, brass cases, a selection of smokeless powders… Maybe $1,700 or $1,800 max. Plus the four or five thousand bucks for the outfitter to guide my hunting trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness, of course.

But that will take care of itself. Once I have this rifle in hand, this magic wand, I will be somebody, go places, do things. People will point at me and whisper in hushed, reverent tones, “That’s him, the famous hunter and outdoor writer.”

Admittedly, this plan fell short of the mark when I bought the Marlin 336 lever-action rifle for the fantasized Minnesota deer hunt five years ago. And the Remington 700 varmint rifle for the prairie dog shoot in 2012. And the Ruger Red Label shotgun in the winter of 1998 that was going to be the ticket to championships in sporting clays tournaments.

But there is some truth to the happiness-through-acquisition tenet of capitalism. Buying something bright and shiny and new releases a flood of endorphins from our brain, a chemical high that is positively stratospheric compared to the low to which we have descended following the mid-winter holiday season.

Maybe some part of my brain goes haywire because I cannot hibernate for the next ninety days as so many North Country species do. There is probably some medical term for this phenomenon. My wife calls it “temporary insanity,” but I was hoping for a more flossy-sounding name like “emotional compensation for seasonal affective disorder caused by winter isolation and sunlight deprivation.”

She’s probably right, though; mild insanity with a touch of childish petulance is a better description of these flights out of the world of reality. I’m calling it “winter acquisitive syndrome temporary episodes of dementia” – WASTED, for short.

Who needs another rifle anyway? How impractical. What a waste of money.

But a longbow? A traditional yew wood longbow? This would open a whole new world of bow hunting for me. If I had one I would be so happy. So very happy.

____________________________________________________

More stories about hunting adventures and hunting rifles are published in my collection of essays, Crazy Old Coot, and my novel, Hunting Birds. Both are available in Kindle and paperback editions at Amazon.com.

 

 

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About Jerry Johnson

Curmudgeon. Bird hunter and dog trainer; indifferent wing shot. Retired journalist and college public relations director. Novelist and short story writer. Freeholder: 50-acre farm with 130-year-old log house. Husband, father, grandfather. Retired teacher, coach, mentor. Vicious editor. Blogger.
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8 Responses to Winter acquisitive syndrome

  1. danzane says:

    I have a few Eastern RedCedar selfbows lying about the place. They are essentially poor man’s yew. You could have that Browning for not a lot more than a good yew stave, never mind having someone actually make you a yew bow. 😉

  2. danzane says:

    I have a few Eastern RedCedar selfbows lying around the place. It’s essentially poor man’s yew. You could have that Browning for not a lot more than a good yew stave, never mind having someone actually make you a yew bow. 😉

    I notice similar afflictions myself, except that we have a bow season lasting through February here (though deer are seldom to be seen), as well as some small game. March is close to worthless though, as fishing usually doesn’t start to heat up until April or May.

    • Dan – I think it was Garrison Keillor who said, “God created March so that people who do not drink would know what it’s like to have a hangover.” I think longbows are beautiful and would like to hunt with one, but after two rotator cuff tears and rehabs (and running a piece of heavy equipment over my left shoulder and arm last June) all my bow hunting is currently done with a crossbow, which is not as enjoyable as my former hunts with recurve or compound bows. Essay: https://dispatchesfromanotherntown.com/2014/06/11/shoulder-to-the-wheel/ I am impressed that you make your own longbows; a rare skill, and I am sure they are beautiful.

  3. M. Rainone says:

    Now, if you could just go to a mall to get all of this stuff, life would indeed be perfect. Actually, life here in the “Southwest” isn’t so bad. It was only 36F here this morning!

    • Thirty-six degrees is too warm for winter. Stuff melts and gets ugly. Daily high temperatures in the teens and twenties would be okay, though. Admittedly, a lot more winter month shooting goes on at your place. Only occasionally at the local mall 🙂

  4. uplandish says:

    Universal truths. The best cure for “WASTED” is throwing away all your extra money on something silly and impractical like car or furnace repair. Then with out money to fuel the flames of fantasy you will skip right over “WASTED” and go straight to the Shack Nasties.

    • Jerry says:

      Shack Nasties, more often call Cabin Fever here, is indeed the wreckage after the flight of fantasy has crashed. But avoiding it is a complicated flight maneuver.
      Postponing furnace repair, okay. We heat with a woodstove anyway.
      But neglecting car repair when your spouse has plans to visit grandkids, not so good. In my part of the North Country, “husband obstructed wife’s grandchildren visit opportunity” qualifies as a “justifiable homicide” legal defense for murder in the first degree. Exhibiting the deceased’s brand new rifle to the jury would pretty much clinch the not-guilty verdict. 🙂
      Very much like your website, by the way, but can’t figure out how to sign up as a “follower.” I have it book-marked so I can check it weekly. Maybe I’ll figure out the “follow” app the next time I visit.

      • uplandish says:

        Thank you very much. I think you have to sign up for blogger to become a follower. or you could just sit tight until I jump ship and move my blog to word press. that will probably happen at the end of the month when duck season ends and the shack nasties set in.

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