Gray Matters — Fun factoids: My cure for cabin fever

By Tanya Mitchell | Feb 13, 2014
Source: File image

Belfast — I don't know about you guys, but I'm kind of all set with winter at this point in the season.

It's funny how it happens, too. I mean, I've lived in Maine all my life, so I know it would be foolish of me to expect a cold- and snow-free season. It's not so bad at the start of it all, with those first few snowfalls adding a fine blanket of snow to the landscape to compliment all the holiday lights. The first few times I had to shovel off the deck and the walkway after a storm, I thought, "Well fine, I can use the exercise anyway."

Then you have a few snowball fights with the kids in the family, build a few snowmen and maybe try out ice skating and other winter-type activities.

As fun as that stuff is, I am absolutely one of those people who wishes winter would end sooner than later. Fact is, it never does.

So it is about this time of year that I try to find some ways to count down the days until the official start of spring (at least, according to the calendar). As a native Mainer, I know the winter weather can easily continue through the first month(s) of the new season, but I figure I have to set my sights on something in order to stave off the winter blahs.

Anyone who knows me can tell you I've always been a lover of useless facts, or what I like to refer to as fun factoids. So I've decided to take each remaining day of this winter to educate myself on at least one new useless fact per day.

With the help of the world wide web, I have had no trouble doing so, and I often find myself absorbing several interesting facts in the process. Here are a few I've found on one of my favorite sites, uselessfacts.net:

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain. It takes 8.5 minutes for the light from the sun to reach the earth. A species of earthworm in Australia grows up to 10 feet in length (um, ewww, I'd hate to run into that while working in my flower gardens!). And did you know it is illegal to frown at cows in Bladworth, Saskatchewan?

I'll have to remember that for the next time I visit Saskatchewan, for sure (not that I can ever remember a time when I felt compelled to frown at a cow).

And how about a few fun factoids about the Pine Tree State? Did you know Maine is the only state in the U.S. with a name that is just one syllable? At weirdfacts.com, I learned about some interesting laws on the books in our state — in Augusta, it is apparently illegal to stroll down the street while playing the violin. In Portland, it is illegal for men to tickle women under the chin with feather dusters. And if you're a disgruntled renter in Rumford, avoid biting your landlord because that's a no-no in that particular town. In Waterville, don't get caught blowing your nose in public.

I may never use any of this information in my life, and I hope none of you have to either (especially when it comes to those strange Maine laws), but they're certainly funny to think about. And each time one of these gets a chuckle out of me, that's a few more moments when I'm not focused on what the world looks like outside my window. Winter can be depressing after all, so what better way to combat it than with a little shot of ha-ha?

If I can keep that smile on my face until the first few blades of grass emerge from the muddy ground, I think I'll survive another Maine winter.

And if I find myself in Saskatchewan between now and then, I'll run a much lower risk of accidentally frowning at a cow.

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