‘Maine, life as it should be’

Our summer visitors sometimes ask us How Do We Survive Up Here All Winter.  I remember that a long departed friend, having been asked The Question one too many times, once sweetly replied “Why by talking about all of you, of course, what else is there to do?”.  Others returning for the summer will ask, with nothing but kind, innocent, good intentions: “How was your winter?”  Asking a Mainer how the winter was is like asking Mrs. Lincoln how she enjoyed the play.  Usually one grits one’s teeth and answers ‘just fine, how was yours?’.  By 4th of July weekend, with winter long gone (well, a few weeks gone, anyway) one chafes: “How the Hell do you think it was? It’s f—ng Maine—it was long, it was cold, it was dark at 3:30! If you really cared how our winter was, you’d have sent plane tickets or at least, some gin.” By early August, one doesn’t even try to remember they’re only being polite: “How was my winter?  Really?  Is that the best you’ve got? Call me up and ask me in March. I’ll tell you how my winter was…”

Maine, life as it is: Our harbor a couple of weeks ago.  It looks no different today.  All that flat white stuff is frozen water, and likely to still be there in early April this year.  (All photos by Sidekick)
Last winter, we were spoiled.  Very very spoiled.  We were given a glimpse of another world.  The one that has Spring. The storms and deep chills that overtook much of the rest of the country last year blew out to sea before they hit here, and we had the shortest and mildest winter in memory, and the earliest and truest spring we’ve ever seen—-we might as well have been in Virginia. Our hearts were full of sunshine and love for mankind.  Really.  It was just like a technicolor Disney movie, with happy citizens tossing Bean boots and down parkas aside and happy little forest critters waking up and dancing with them in the streets.  Just like that.
The foot of my street on one of the eight or nine sunny days we had all winter
But, the Calvinist spirit of retribution beats deep in the hearts of true Mainers.  It’s a spartan place, and we know that we’ll be punished if things get too good—-and this winter was ample proof that we’re right.   Nearly nine feet of snow fell, and it fell often–at any given time, two to four of those feet remained on the ground. Old timers who never complain were complaining loudly.  Souls and tempers were frayed. Temperatures stayed below freezing, heating oil stayed above $3.50 a gallon, plans were made an just as quickly  canceled as the next storm moved, and well, as you can tell it was just more fun than a trip to St. Kitt in February.  Thanks for asking.
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A friend’s garden, about four o’clock  in the afternoon a few weeks ago.  Spring must be coming, because this is now how it looks at about five thirty in the afternoon.
So why do we stay here?  Better not ask me right now, with freezing rain predicted for Thursday—but part of the answer can be seen in the photos of my friend Sidekick’s very beautiful shrub and flower gardens, a glimpse which in the pictures below.  Maybe another day I’ll post a few of sailboats on the bay in August, and the question will be answered.

And the same scene in late July.
On the flip side, the Maine coast is superior gardening country, so for those few brief weeks of summer, we enjoy a floral abundance that temporarily makes up for the rest.  In summer, only a very cold and dry martini will lure my friend Sidekick out of her garden, seen above in late July, and below in late May-early June.  It is her firm belief that when it comes to flowers and shrubs, more IS more.  Based on the evidence, I firmly believe she is correct.

Just a few more weeks…….
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