Douglas McIntire

Douglas McIntire

As I sit here, taking ibuprofen like it’s Pez after another round of shoveling, it struck me how much I used to be fascinated by winter storms. Even when I hit the age to help clear the stuff, it was always bigger is better. I really couldn’t wait to see what Mother Nature could bring our way.

It’s abundantly clear now, that something has changed — changed dramatically.

As a child, I used to sit out in the yard after dinner after the early sunset and get down low on snow hills to catch the glint of light from our porch across the snow. With the right tilt of the head and angle of light, the scene turned into a rolling sea of diamonds as light glinted off light flakes that drifted and blew across the driveway.

Across the street form my Columbia Avenue home, I could see the woods where I played during the summer. I imagined the wealth of these diamonds, drifting up against each fir bower, creating a perfect, nature made snow fort to crawl into after the storm.

I’ve heard that our sense of vision is far more acute in our early childhood. Colors shine with an intense vibrance we will never see in our adult years. Maybe it’s natural ocular degeneration. Maybe we just stop seeing diamonds in snow drifts. Maybe it’s a trick of the eye — how we only partially see the mundane, letting the mind fill in the blanks we didn’t take time to notice.

As I became a little older, I stopped seeing the glint of diamonds. I did, however, take to slogging through the slush to downtown in my clunky snowmobile boots with the toggles and felt lining — no doubt, one lace trailing a foot or so behind me. Even tromping through the brown soup of salt, sand and slush had its own rhythm to it. A loud slonk followed by a thin squish called cadence as I made my way to Maine Street.

Once there, people rushed — I lingered, passing quietly through LaVerdiere’s, J.J. Newberry and finally Brook’s Feed and Farm to plot my next critter purchase.

I didn’t understand the rush happening around me; the feeling of urgency on an otherwise serene day after a storm. I was only busy scaling the mountain ridge that sprang up between road and sidewalk, imagining I was somewhere else.

As a teen, I would take to the streets, mid-storm with my friend, Andy. Together, we would intentionally seek out stranded autos and give them a push on their way. The hottest spot for this seemed to be the Union Street entrance to Shop and Save. There, we could have stationed ourselves throughout any storm and pushed cars all evening as they rushed to get supplies home in their rear-wheel drive cars.

As part of this teen tradition, we also would each pick up a pizza from Tess’ Market and tuck ourselves between railroad cars, out of the wind, to enjoy them as a treat for our good deeds.

Once, we had the fun of returning a shopping cart to Shop and Save. The fun part, actually, was riding that cart down Pleasant Street hill through the slush. It was a deed well worth the amusement.

Now I’m an adult — at least some might say that, and I’m rather sad my perception of snow has grown up as well.

I no longer linger and just watch the snow glint in the porch light. The days of just wandering the slushy streets for the sake of being out in a fresh coating of the white stuff have long past and although I still help stranded drivers, it’s more from a standpoint of pity — as we’ve all been there. It’s no longer the youthful zeal of doing it just to help as many people as I can because I can and it’s nice.

No, I’ve become one of those rushing around with no end in sight and it’s too bad. I cheer for just a moment at the announcement of a snow day — but just a moment, because if it was enough to cancel school, it’s enough to put my back out and leave me wheezing in the cold.

Still, with the next shovel of snow, I’ll strive to remember how much of a blast younger me would have had and try, for a moment, to recapture my old love of snow and see diamonds in the drifts.

Douglas McIntire is a writer and educator in the Midcoast area. He can be found yelling unspeakable things at snow plows or at [email protected]

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