I am a great believer in starting something that I want but can’t find. That was how Cabin Fever Club began. I was in need of a distraction, having three children at the time, one of them a toddler. I had about six other friends who also had toddlers so I decide to invite them all for a lunch date. I told them to feed their children first and then to come over for about 1 pm. We set the children up with lots of toys in the nearby living room where we could keep our eyes on them. Then we sat down for a leisurely lunch. I served a salad, rolls and an omlette for the first course and chocolate cake for dessert. I put on mood music and set out the Trivial Pursuit board game just in case we ran out of conversation. After 29 years of Cabin Fever Club we have never needed to open up that game box. We take turns hosting lunch on the fourth Thursday of each month and come Hell or High Water we are there. In our younger days we did all three courses ourselves, but now we share the job. One brings appetizers, one brings dessert and the hostess that month makes the main course. We all bring our latest grandchildren pictures and an appetite.
Over the twenty-nine years we have been lunching we have been shoulders to cry on and the source of many great belly laughs. We have experienced some wonderful lunches; some exotic and spicy, others home cooking with flare. We have gone on shopping excursions, cottage stays, camping outings and skiing trips. We went to a Gatineau Hills bed and breakfast for our twenty-fifth anniversary which was a lot of fun. We also spent a few days at a time-share in the Laurentians courtesy of one of our members. Altogether, over the years we have seen each other through children’s emergencies, teen crises, weddings, and parents moving into nursing homes. We have vowed to continue our once a month lunches even when we are all in nursing homes ourselves. Cabin Fever now consists of eleven good friends and we aren’t above shedding a few tears mixed in with the giggles.
A number of the members of Cabin Fever Club have also been involved in community activities together such as school lunches, pancake days and play days. We have also had a hand in starting a play group which eventually became a nursery school. The play group came about because there was nothing for three year olds to join. Some of us met and decided to begin a group. We got permission to hold it in the basement of a local church and decided that we would all volunteer one month of once- a -week playgroup supervision. We gathered together some gently used toys, a kitchen play set and tables and chairs. Once a week two of us would do crafts, read stories and play games with the children. As time went on we found that more and more mothers were looking for a play group but were unable to volunteer the time because of part time or full time jobs. At that point we investigated how to make the group into an official nursery school so that we could hire an early years education teacher. It took a lot of research and effort but we were able to make it official and for a while the nursery school was in a room of a local public school. This went well as the children then went quite happily on to kindergarten in the same school. The nursery school we established went on for about twenty years until junior kindergarten became a standard part of the public school curriculum.
Some of the “Cabinettes” as we fondly call each other, were also involved in an amateur drama group we called the “Fencepost Players”. A neighbour and I began the group because we both enjoyed acting. We did mostly one act plays, usually two for one performance. We had a great deal of enthusiastic help from friends who made costumes, found props, and designed programs or posters. The group ran for five years, during which time we did about eleven productions. One of the most successful was our first (and last) three act play, “Let’s Murder Marsha” which was a hilarious comedy. I discovered, while taking part in the group, that I enjoyed directing even more than acting. I learned a great deal from those five years and wouldn’t have missed them for anything.
Another venture a few of us took part in was the formation of the Valley Writer’s Guild. Eight of us came together once a month at each others’ homes ,in the beginning, as a group we called “Closet Writers” but as the numbers dwindled four of us decided it was time for a much larger group. We put up posters in the local libraries and drew 17 people to our first meeting. Gradually, over the twenty-two years it has been in existence, our numbers waxed to over a hundred and waned to only five. We met in a room above the town hall, in a college room, in two different church halls and now we meet in the local library meeting room on Saturday afternoons once a month. We have held writing festivals, dinner readings and cabaret nights. We have produced a number of issues of the Grist Mill, a magazine containing award winning prose and poetry and a marvelous newsletter for writers. We have had generous speakers who really gave out of the goodness of their hearts, especially at first when we only had computer paper as a payment.
At this time some of the Cabinettes have been involved in “Country Christmas Remembered” which is a winter festival in Spencerville, centred mostly around the local grist mill which is a museum now. They have also been Friends of the Library and volunteers for the local fall fair. We are a busy group but we have tried to contribute to the community with our efforts as well as do things we enjoy.