This winter has been the weirdest of all. About a week ago, I caught a weather teaser on television a couple of hours before the newscast. The meteorologist blurted out his five-second preview, “Highs near 60 and a little bit of snow in the forecast at 11.”

Wait – what?

On Christmas Day, Spouse and I stood on the shore of our local beach watching a gorgeous sunrise. We were not bundled up and freezing. In fact, we were barely dressed for winter, and a few hours later, the temps soared to 60-something. Not one snowflake was to be seen. Confused plants have begun to re-bud in the past month.

Fast-forward three days. The supermarket is overflowing with shoppers rushing out to get milk and bread if nothing else. Many are filling their grocery carts as if Armageddon was at the door. The reason: a weather report that predicted our first major snow storm slipping and sliding into the area by the next morning.

Welcome to New England.

Sometimes it’s important to know the right people, like plumbers or politicians. In Maine, it only matters that you know someone who owns a truck with a snowplow. It’s not even like you need to call them each year to tell them you could use their services again. They just keep on plowing until you call them, because really – why would we cancel? If we ever move from here I need to add that to my to-do list: cancel the snowplowing. Or maybe I’ll just leave his name and number for the next owner to cancel. Chances are, they won’t want to change a thing.

By the time you read this, Second Born will be two days from arriving home. One of her requests (besides my stuffed shells before she goes back to college) was snow on the ground. I was hoping it would wait until after she arrived home, only because I don’t want anything hindering the progress of her flight. It is January and it is Maine, so chances were slim that my wish would override hers. The fact that folks were walking around in shorts a week or so ago doesn’t mean anything when you live in New England, as we all know. The bread and milk panic eventually hits, the snow blowers are started up and the roof rakes get broken in once again.

My newest accessory that I’m carrying around with me these days is a pair of ice cleats. The brick sidewalk from the garage where I park my car to my office can become a skating rink this time of year. Though I spend the short trek to work fretting about falling (and not being able to get up), I am thankful my car sits in a covered garage all day and I’m not shoveling and scraping (and perhaps mildly swearing) at the end of the day.

I’m not anti-snow. I would have just preferred that it held off until after Second Born was home… and then after The Love Couple flies up for a visit the following weekend… and then after we make the 10-hour drive to Pennsylvania to move our college student back to her dorm in two weeks. Oh … maybe I am anti-snow.

I think it is more that I don’t have young children whose school cancellations give me the perfect excuse to stay home for the day. We also don’t have the same amount of help clearing the white stuff off the cars and driveway as we used to. Sometimes I miss getting kids bundled up to work and play in the snow. I enjoyed prepping hot cocoa for everyone to warm up with once the shoveling was done, even though it also meant chunks of snow melting all over the kitchen floor down the hall to the bathroom where all soaking wintry items are hung.

I still make hot cocoa for Spouse and me. He still carries snow throughout the house. We grumble a little more each year as we get older and the cold seems colder – and we pick up bread and milk two days before everyone else.

— Janine Talbot lives in Saco with her husband Chuck and their dog and cats. She writes about adjusting to the empty nest and not voting her spouse off the island at www.momofmanywords.com. Contact her at [email protected]


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