It may be a little early for cabin fever — that disease of the home-all-day type that is alleviated only a little bit by the knowledge the second wave of seed catalog mailings should begin anytime now.

But just in case it sets in, here are some of the symptoms so you will know it in time to get an antidote, as shared by the Crawford County Independent of Gays Mills about 20 years ago.

*Cabin fever is talking to the dog for 10 minutes, then waiting another 10 minutes for an answer.

*Watering the cactus four days in a row, without thinking that it’s excessive.

*Reading the small print on the aspirin bottle and going through the stack of junk mail a third time before throwing it into the wood burner.

*Answering a phone call from an “unknown caller” simply to hear another voice.

*Sorting your recipe drawer, making piles of keepers and throw-aways, then keeping them all. You think you might be becoming a hoarder!

*In a weak moment, you decide it won’t hurt if you cut your own hair, then discover you’ve cut all the curl off. You try to imagine it doesn’t look all that bad.

*You try to justify making a new recipe that’s got to be fattening.

*Deciding it’s time to begin a program of shape-up exercises.

*Going out to shovel the snow from around the garden site.

*Looking forward to the school bus and waving as it goes by.

*Checking the mailbox three times before the mailman comes. Even on Sunday.

*Going to the barn just to say hello to the cows.

*You call a friend and ask them to call you back, just to make sure your phone battery is still working.

*You have a backache caused by doing nothing.


Recently there has been a lot of talk about the Common Man. It has been drummed into us that this is the Century of the Common Man. The idea seems to be that the Common Man has come into his own at last.

Thus we are in danger of developing a cult of mediocrity. But there is at least one hopeful sign: I have never been able to find out who this Common Man is. In fact, most Americans will get mad and fight if you try calling them common. This essay was first brought to my attention in 1988 and is still true today.

This is hopeful because it shows that most people are holding fast to an essential fact in American life. We believe in equal opportunity for all, but we know that this includes the opportunity to rise to leadership—-in other words, to be uncommon.

Let us remember that the great human advances have not been brought about by mediocre men and women. They were brought about by distinctly uncommon people with vital sparks of leadership.

Many of the great leaders were, it is true, of humble origin, but that alone was not their greatness.

It is a curious fact that when you get sick you want an uncommon doctor, if your car breaks down you want an uncommonly good mechanic; when we get into war we want an uncommon admiral and an uncommon general.

I have never met a father and mother who wanted their children to grow up to be common men and women. They wanted them to possess uncommon skills.

May it always be so. For the future of America rests not in mediocrity, but in the constant renewal of leadership in every phase of our national life.