Real Mainers Dig Snow
My driveway is shrinking.
With each new winter storm (which is to say, about twice a week lately) the navigable channel between parallel ridge lines of snow grows narrower. The turn-around near the house can just about accommodate a rickshaw. I regret now never having taken up the unicycle — a kid in my old neighborhood in Rockport village used to pedal one down to the park and it looked like fun, though of course being a kid he was equipped with rubber bones.
I love it when real, lifelong Mainers complain about what kind of winter we're having. It has taken me nearly a quarter-century to discern the twinkle in their eyes: secretly, you can tell, they love it. Secretly, I love it too, and not just because the four-foot fluffy mounds on my deck have tastefully swallowed up the Weber grill and blue plastic cooler and a whole bag of returnable cans and bottles that inexplicably paused there on their way to the redemption center. Snow makes tidy householders of us all.
The sheer physical presence of all this snow — rerouting footpaths, blocking lines-of-sight at highway intersections, smoothing over the jagged contours of the native landscape — is a powerful thing in itself; but I wonder if the symbolic weight of these billions of icy crystals is even greater. Snow in a curious way makes us feel safe. It reassures us that the strength of nature, even now, dwarfs that of the energized cabal in Augusta who are so eager to swap out our wetlands for superstores, lay off schoolteachers, and thumb their noses at children unlucky enough to be born into impenitent families. Mother Nature, we are thankfully reminded, kisses no one's butt.
Driving a car on our wintry roads requires (or at any rate engenders) a spirit of adventure. You can't always see the potholes and yellow lines and frost-heaved slabs of pavement ahead of you. Talking on a cell phone under these circumstances is ill-advised, texting potentially fatal. The only prudent use for a cell phone in a blizzard — other than calling your boss to promise you'll be in as soon as you get hauled out of the ravine — is the one for which it obviously was intended: taking photographs out of the windows of your car while craning your neck and swerving to avoid oncoming traffic.
The results are pleasingly Chinese: an abstracted landscape fraught with mystery that vanishes tantalizingly in the mist ... or, in this case, the white-out. You earn bonus Art Cred if the image contains strobing blue lights in the rear-view mirror. A couple of storms ago, I had a nice drive around Lake Megunticook in Camden, the results of which you can see in the photo above (and in the subsequent pics if you click the little slide show link).
I can imagine my great-grandchildren flicking through these images on their iWall after global climate change, or some other liberal hoax, has turned Maine into an attractive desert, tastefully paved-over and otherwise Nevadafied after a couple of generations of enlightened Republican stewardship.
"What's all that white stuff?" one of them marvels.
"Pollution," scoffs his older sister, wise in the ways of the world. Then she tosses the uneaten portion of her ratburger into the shining waters of Penobscot Bay, lapping at the pilings of the family cottage, which — according to family legend — once stood a quarter-mile inland.
In the interim, we have a real winter on our hands. And I'm totally digging it.