I’ve now lived through 39 Maine winters, and I can honestly say I’m not a big fan. I know. I know. If I don’t like winter, what the hell am I doing in Maine?
Well, for starters, I really like the other three seasons. And the lobsters aren’t too shabby.
So, what exactly is it about winter that gets so many Mainers pumped up? Is it the prospect of staring down Mother Nature at her most brutal, and not blinking? You know — that whole macho thing. Because if it is, I’m looking at daily injections of testosterone just to scrape the ice off my windshield.
It’s not like winter is anything new to me. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, which had its own macho winter etiquette — like going to school in sub-freezing temperatures with only a T-shirt above the waist. “Layers? We don’t need no stinking layers.”
But back to Maine. Who are these winter people anyway?
Skiers, for instance. Let me get this straight. Intelligent life forms actually set their alarms for 4 a.m., get up, and drive three hours to ski resorts with names like Sugar River or Sunday Loaf. Then they pay a week’s wage just to get in line for the privilege of careening down a mountain at warp drive in sub-zero wind chills. Only to stand in line and do it all over again?
Not me. At 4 a.m., the only activity I’m eager to engage in is turning over in my sleep. Or, on a good night, mixing my last martini.
Some folk’s idea of fun is to burrow a hole into the ice, sit on an overturned bucket, and drop a line into a frozen lake. Others build little houses on the ice to stay warm. And we all know how easy it is to get dehydrated while waiting for the fish to bite. So, these outposts become very popular when liquid refreshment is being offered.
Hey, maybe I should look into ice fishing. I could bring the olives.
It’s the snowstorms that really get to me, though. I’m OK with the Bing Crosby-type snow where you put on a scarf, step outside, and croon “White Christmas.”
No. What I’m talking about is the 27 inches of snow from a nor’easter that involves serious shoveling.
Typically, I ignore that task for as long as possible — especially if the Patriots and Dolphins are tied at 17-17. The couch never felt so comfortable or the bean dip so tasty. I’m in denial, of course, hoping it will all just go away.
But then I hear a hellish sound. It’s my neighbor down the street firing up the snowblower just as the last flake hits the ground. Obviously, he’s not a football fan.
That’s when the guilt kicks in. I’m shamed into turning off the TV, dragging my sorry butt off the couch, putting on six layers of mismatched clothes, lacing up my 10-year-old (no longer waterproof) boots, throwing on my hat and gloves, and praying that I don’t repeat last year’s trip to the ER after slipping on the ice hidden beneath the snow.
I wave to a passerby walking his dog who shouts to me, “It’s great exercise.” Right. Another neighbor passes by and says, “This is nothing. Shoulda’ been around for the winter of ‘59.” Apparently, that’s when suffering was suffering. But I digress.
So there I am, waist deep in snow, pausing for a moment to ponder the exact ingredients of a Rum Runner or Pina Colada … and wondering if Bangor flies direct to Bora-Bora?
To be fair, though, there are some truly wonderful moments to be had in winter. Like the white-knuckle thrill of driving to work in a raging blizzard with no snow tires, worn-out windshield wipers, and no defroster. (Yeah, like you haven’t been there.)
“Please God, just get me through this and I promise I’ll never do it again.” Right.
Ice storms? Don’t get me started.
I’m turning over now. ZZZZZ. Wake me when it’s spring.
Eddie Adelman is a writer who lives in Belfast.