Friday, August 30, 2013
Winter In America
Winters aren't hard in Maine where I live. They're not harsh. They're not long. Adjectives like hard, harsh, and long don't help describe the thing. What winter is here is A Fact.
Before we moved here, winter was not A Fact in my life. I lived in various places in Massachusetts, but you could basically pretend winter was just a few nasty weeks left over from fall, or a ghastly beginning to spring, but you didn't really have to pay attention to it in any meaningful way. I went years without owning an ice scraper, or having a proper winter coat. You could just sort of clap your hands over your ears and sing la la la for about two weeks in January and pretend it didn't matter.
They'll find you in the spring in western Maine if you pretend winter doesn't exist. You're not going anywhere, and you're not doing anything without paying attention to it when it shows up. And you're not staying home, either, without paying winter's attention vigorish. If the power went out in Massachusetts, we'd have a jolly fire in the ornamental fireplace, made entirely from cardboard and bits of cut-off wood left over from building the house, and wait for the television to be restored. If the power goes off overnight in Maine in January, you've got about four hours to do something about it before the water in the toilet bowl turns to slush. I have a back-up plan for heat, and a back-up plan for that plan, too, and I'm probably considered woefully unprepared by my wiser neighbors. But I do get the concept, so elegantly put by my dead neighbor, E. B. White: just to live in winter is a full time job.
Of course he lived on the coast, where's it's warm and doesn't snow much. I live over by Mount Washington. It's west of here, about an hour and a half's drive --and a bit southerly.