Snow, winter in Maine for that matter.
One of the most misunderstood seasons and to many when the word Maine is uttered, a flash card rotation starts of images. Lobsters, potatoes, blueberries, lighthouses, woods, lakes and snow. To some just snow and then moving on to thoughts of Arctic Circle, not the Maine that really is.
Winter is one of the four seasons.
Folks, people, we have four fingers held up. We spend all those Maine seasons outside, outdoors. Because fresh air, clean water and wide open space happens year round. We feed on those natural elements to maintain our life balance.
So snow, if you live where you only experience it on the weather channel map. Or in stories when the guy with the red velvet suit trimmed in white fur is doing his holiday routine with the flying deer. It can be vague, fuzzy, default BRRrrrr and a tad Stephen King scary. The unknown always is.
There really are fifty Eskimo words for snow. They have that many “shades”, variations of the white stuff.
In Maine, being out in a soft steady snow fall of the larger flakes while walking hits all your senses.
No, you are not cold. You are layered, dressed for the winter weather. Our wardrobe rotates in Maine. You also are cuffing right along walking exercising. Hood up or hat on. Eyelashes with hitch hiking flakes drifting in. Your tongue like a kid slithers out to sample a few.
Or shoveling it, skiing or pond hockey skating or lake ice fishing while it gravities to Earth. We know how to drive in it. Just adjust your speed. Scrape off the windshield, have good winter wiper blades. Warm up your ride so the defroster works. Or park your keester in front of a crackling fire with a cup of good cheer, a loved one. To warm your bones after playing in it. To wait out the winter storm warning or advisory.
Today the white flag for cancellations of schools and events is more common than when I was a kid.
When snow fences were rolled out in the open country fields in late fall. To create a sand bag like effect to keep highways from filling in. Some of the hyped up storms where “they” promise up to and use words like “possible.”
Pushing the more exciting, dramatic higher end of figures for accumulation of snow expected. It keeps the quarter hours in rating sweeps high. The audience glued to the set, on the edge of there seats. Don’t touch that dial. And often frightened when some forget we live in Maine. This is just a dusting of snow. No need to stock up on groceries, flashlight batteries and bath tubs filled, extra jugs of water collected.
All the senses are affected by snow in Maine, not just our sunshine tickling, tanning your face and felt on your shoulders.
The soft sound of heavy snow is like someone turned up the whispers. Boosting the signal of the quiet that is deafening. You can hear yourself think. As you blend in with the landscape that makes visibility a plug someone pulled. Shut off. Tripped over and you are hidden in just a few feet surrounding you circle.
To gain your bearings on the “where you headed?” question asked inside your head. On a private island cloaked from looking out, anyone looking in. During a time in the cloud of snow flakes, wispy like atmosphere. Where someone took, shook, summoned an army of pollen seed release effect from a million bygone, flat line dandelions of ghostly white.
As you make your way with the crunch, compaction of snow underfoot.
Leaving distinct foot prints that are quickly, quietly erased with more new snow to obscure them. Listening to the dog collar tags jingle. As a navigation guide. Seeing street lamps, vehicle lights moving slowly in and out of the shadows. That add a hazy glow to the walk during a winter snow fall.
Like harbor floating buoys depended on to guide and glide Maine lobster, fishing, ferry boats back to the mainland. Your other senses beyond just the peepers step up to the plate. To fill in the missing, not so sure pathway bearings. The course you are on or to adjust, should be taking to swerve, avoid an approaching hazard. Ah grasshopper, the force of winter snow is strong within you.
You woke up and when you stepped out in to your yard it “smelled like snow”. Felt like snow was brewing and the heavens would be opening up. You tap the glass. The barometer numbers signal it was so. Plan accordingly whether you were a boy or girl scout or not in your preparations. You decide what is ahead and the adjustment in your life course.
Without over the top sensationalism needed to be poured on by the weather guy or girl.
The big grin, fast talker in front of the green street using the clicker to change the back drops. Looking off the set at a television monitor for a reference. To help guide the hand gestures to match the screens. For what you and I see in the audience but not the talking head delivering the forecast without the corner of the eye aid as his service dog and white cane aid.
One of my broadcast bosses, George Hale in Bangor Maine would tell us never, ever ever let him hear one of the DJ’s telling the audience to stay home. Never open the pie hole and blurt out that it is “too snowy out”. Don’t give the new fresh powdery snow a black eye.
Instead tell those listeners, true Mainers to head out a little earlier but never shut it down and hide out like a coward at home. “Off the roads” warnings not to leave our lips. When the mic is open and the tunes wind up or down in the musical bed. Unless the governor, national guard, state police had called, issued the directive to clear the weather deck. Baton down the hatches.
Merchants that have sales running, the revenues for the ads that pay our salaries are percolating. Those spot rotations to get people through the wide open, front double doors so vital to the store owners we serve.
Not shelling out the moolah for dollar a holler ad clusters for nothing. Or to keep people away from shopping their aisles. Darkening those same doors.
When you are out in the snow in Maine as it happens, everything around you sounds insulated, dampened. Like being inside a cave tunnel made out of whatever the snow plow man deposited along the dooryard perimeter. Swept back and piled high. Inside that tunnel, Jack Frost turns down the sound. You have invisible ear plugs added to the being outdoors, getting pink cheeks. Working up an appetite where hunger improves the taste.
Where I live, the snow that accumulates is usually the white fluffy dry kind.
Not wet, sticky and making you damp like along the ocean coastal areas of Maine. When you get damp like a snow sledder wearing leathers in late winter with spring frost heave like conditions during the thaw. And your outer wear is heavy.
You don’t just add another layer and call it good. You are wet and cold feeling fatigued from the extra water gain weight. Not just a quick fix simply cold. When hot chocolate, coffee, a toddy is going to heat from within.
You have heard of dry heat and the kind with moisture, humidity. When your head ping pongs back and forth between Mr Arizona And Ms Florida’s debate on the kind of heat in their locations. How they like it served up best. Same principle but what happens when the temperature dial is left around freezing. Maine’s average winter temperature in Aroostook County is nineteen degrees. It is a dry cold, not wet. Just no two alike snow crystal flakes showing up. Not sleet, not a rain hail of ice pellets as a rule where I live when I look out between the pulled apart window blinds.
The fun and test of a Maine winter weather driver is the experience is the transitions. When the temperature drops suddenly and here we go from wet pavement to black ice. In ten minutes. You slow down, don’t have to go the posted speed limit unless you want a trip to the ER, the morgue. Or to create dents and creases that mean a call to the insurance agent. A visit to the auto body fender bender, dent pulling, painting expert. Come experience the magic of snow, a Maine winter. Form your own conclusions on Maine, the weather rather than recycling those old wife’s tales.