Each school day I’m up at 5:00am, and we’re out the door at 6:15am. My son and I hop in the van and drive down the hill to his bus stop. The month’s freezing temperatures have dipped into the single digits again and we’re impatient for the dashboard heat to hit us. “Mom! You always blast the fan before the heat is there. It’s not the season for the air conditioner! Oh, I really don’t like winter”, he says shivering. I laugh, for he’s right about the way I blast the fan before the car’s even warm, and I find myself needing to reassure him that the Maine winters can indeed be enjoyed, but that means getting ourselves out into the snow and onto the ice: “You love to ski downhill.You enjoyed going skating the other day. Remember when we all went sliding together? We ought to go snowshoeing this weekend. Or we could go cross country skiing and bring along a thermos of hot cocoa and a lunch”.
“Listen to you!” my son teases. He begins to mock my string of winter activities, doing his best impersonation of my “Mom voice”.
He wasn’t buying it, but I know that it’s tough to raise the spirit or the temperature of a 14 year old boy who could use a little extra sleep in his warm bed these days. The conversation took me back to when I used to hear my own mother explain to me how important it is for we Mainers to get out and enjoy the winter weather, otherwise it’s an extremely long trek to spring. To this day, my brother struggles with winter and I am sure he is ready to go to Florida any day now, once he reaches his retirement. But would I want to do that? No. I’ve always echoed my Mom who says she loves the four seasons, and I cannot imagine what it’d be like to forgo the snow falling outside my window or to miss out on the series of weather-related cancellations that grant me an excuse to cozy up by the fireplace reading a good novel for an entire day.
To “hunker down” in a storm would be one thing I would truly miss if I were to leave Maine. I also don’t think avoiding the cold elsewhere could ever come close to appreciating the beauty of the first buds on the trees, witnessing the way in which they quickly fill in by Memorial Day weekend, or simply catching my breath after a beautiful trek on the snowshoe and snowmobile trails outside my door.
So, I agree, I ought to warm up my car a little earlier before my son and I get in there each morning. And perhaps it’s time for me to make good on my preaching that the best way to enjoy a Maine winter is to put yourself out there in its elements. Because truth be told, I’ve seen enough movies this winter. I’m ready for some real adventure. With the temperature rising this weekend to a balmy 36 degrees, my son heads to Shawnee Peak for some night skiing, and I vow to begin tomorrow by finding a good pair of wool socks and strapping on those snowshoes.
–Written by: Anne Freeman Walker, a resident of Naples, Maine for the past 22 years.