I’ve already put my Subaru into a ditch this winter. I’m fine, the car is fine, no other cars involved. I was schlepping down to Portland during the year’s first snowstorm and drifted into a nice, fluffy pillow as I maneuvered an unplowed stretch of on-ramp. The fellow with the winch came by inside of an hour. I answered some emails, finished my coffee, and got out to gauge how ski-able was the snow. I was lucky and back on the road in no time — just a prosaic little foible of life in Maine.
I know this is the sort of thing snowbirds take flight to avoid, but where are you going to go and not encounter similar annoyances? Arizona seems nice, but there are scorpions. Southern California has smog. Heading to Florida? Yikes, watch out for Florida Man.
It’s a cliché of Maine writing to extol the winter as a time when we slow down, turn inward, settle in before our woodstoves, and reflect on the value of stillness and reserve and hearth and home. And those things are lovely in moderation, but let us also please reflect on the value of skiing and sledding and going into town on a Friday night and eating giant, warm meals washed down with something strong. Because these things are equally a part of our character, and they are altogether worth suffering winter’s small hassles.
Ask writer and parenting blogger Jennifer Hazard, who contributed to this month’s story on winter weekend getaways (page 46) and who has spent much of the last year roaming the state to promote her new compendium, The Maine Play Book: A Four-Season Guide to Family Fun and Adventure. Not a three-season guide, folks. Ask Susan Hand Shetterly, whom I am delighted to welcome as our new Room With a View columnist (page 42). In some of my favorite passages from her terrific 2010 book Settled in the Wild, she writes of putting her infant daughter into a carrier and spending winter afternoons tromping through frozen woods, of skiing country roads beneath full moons, of strapping on snowshoes to explore the ice-encrusted shoreline.
So relish that stillness, certainly, and take your seasonal pleasure where you find it. But don’t mistake Maine’s winter for a time to flee or hibernate — and save the slowing down for the roads.