After all, it’s January in the northern climes. So why shouldn’t it be snowing heavily?

OAKLAND — Sumner Davis stirred his coffee, took a sip and looked out the window at the snow piling up outside.

“It’s Maine and it’s wintertime. This is what happens,” the Oakland resident said from his counter seat at the Early Bird Restaurant on Main Street. “There’s too much hype and nonsense. If you live in Maine, you should expect a day or two like this.”

Tuesday morning, Davis was one of several customers who came to the restaurant, one of the few places in the Waterville area to remain open during a snowstorm expected to bring 12 to 18 inches of snow and high wind. Some, like Davis, said too much hype surrounded the storm. Others said they were already getting antsy in their homes, weren’t able to get to the grocery store or came simply because the local restaurant was open.

In its 18 years in business, the Early Bird has never closed because of bad weather and wasn’t about to start doing so Tuesday, owner Sandra Furbush said.

“It’s a little dead right now, but we’ve actually had more customers than I expected,” Furbush said.

Around 9 a.m. all of the booths in the restaurant were filled – mostly with hungry members of plow crews – and by 10 a.m. customers were continuing to trickle in for coffee, eggs, muffins and oatmeal. At least a dozen customers were there.

George Gehrling, who lives nearby and whose girlfriend, Kirsti Trafton, works as a dishwasher at the Early Bird, popped into the restaurant in the late morning for a breakfast sandwich. Gehrling, 28, a student at Kennebec Valley Community College who also works at Formtek-Maine Service in Clinton, said his classes were canceled and the factory also was closed for the day.

LET IT SNOW

“It’s crazy. I talked to some of the guys that have been working there a long time, some as long as 20 years, and they said this is the first time they remember the plant being shut down,” Gerhling said.

“We haven’t been too busy, although I have because I’m the only dishwasher,” Trafton said. After lunch, Gehrling said he was going home to shovel snow, and he planned to take a nap and then have a quiet movie night with his girlfriend.

Nearby, 80-year-old Marie Lord sat in a booth by herself, enjoying a big plate of scrambled eggs and a warm cream-cheese-stuffed pumpkin muffin. Lord said she had spent most of the morning shoveling her car out and trying to prevent snow accumulation in her driveway. She wanted to drive around town to prevent her car from getting stuck in one place.

“The plow does come, but there’s no sense staying in the driveway,” she said. “There’s so much accumulation, it doesn’t do anything.”

Lord said she couldn’t get her family to go out with her, so she came to eat breakfast by herself.

“I’m an adventurer,” she said. “I can’t stay home all day, even when it’s like this. I need to move around.”

As Lord was finishing her breakfast, a group of five people came in, stopping to stomp the snow off their boots and dust off their jackets before taking a seat at a large table in the middle of the restaurant.

Tamara Pomerleau, her three children and one of their friends were in the middle of moving to a new house and didn’t have the time or energy to go to the grocery store Monday night. Early Tuesday morning, Pomerleau, 36, drove a carload of belongings to the family’s new home in Winslow while the roads were still OK. She went home and took the children – all out of school for the day – out for breakfast.

“We haven’t done major grocery shopping, because who wants to move $200 worth of groceries to a new house?” Pomerleau said. “It’s way too windy and cold to be walking, so we drove here. The roads weren’t too bad earlier, but they’re getting worse. We could definitely use another plow on our street.”

Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

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