During messy, snowy, cold days like those over the weekend when we were left without power, there’s always a bit of happiness waiting to be found – if we take a moment to look for it.

Snow is a joy for me no matter when it arrives, even in spring. Growing up in hot, dry East Africa, every snowflake that falls here at my new home still fills me with wonder, and I often think that I am experiencing a life that my parents and ancestors never even thought of.

Abdi Nor Iftin is a Somali-American writer, radio journalist and public speaker. He lives in Yarmouth and can be contacted at noriftin@gmail.com.

I like winter despite growing up in a country where we don’t even have terms for all sorts of snow-related things, like skiing, skating, snowshoeing, tobogganing. In the Somali-American community here, we’ve come up with a term to describe snow to our relatives back home: “Baraf suuf,” or “cotton ice.” It describes the soft appearance of snow as it falls, but also its cold, iciness when it settles. However, explaining freezing rain, icy roads and icicles remain a challenge.

Unexpected snowstorms are quite common in Maine, so I’ve learned to always keep my winter clothes ready, some at home and some in the car. Just a few weeks ago I told a friend that although it looked like spring was arriving, I still had my hat and gloves in the car because I couldn’t be sure winter was really over yet.

Maine stayed true to its nature this weekend, giving us a cold weekend covered in snow and ice with, of course, a power outage. Instead of getting upset or thinking about moving somewhere warmer, I considered whether the outage was a reminder that we all need a break from screens and basketball games and TV series. I decided to get out and enjoy the winter scenery. In the cold air, I cleared fallen branches and admired the beautiful icy landscape. I talked with neighbors out walking their dogs, and that made the time even more enjoyable.

Back inside I found comfort in simple things: a warm blanket, a hot cup of tea I brewed over the fireplace and the chance to experience a weather phenomenon that many people around the world only dream of. I remembered my mother’s stories of heavy rain in Somalia that brought everyone out in the open to shower in it and to give their animals water. I realized that tough times often teach us resilience and happiness.

Fallen trees and power lines blocked roads and kept me at home and my phone needed to be charged, but those were inconveniences I chose not to dwell upon. Rather, I chose to appreciate the rarity of the time when I could enjoy the company of my community, the beauty of Maine and its ever-changing weather. It’s not about the problems we face, but how we choose to see and enjoy the world around us.

As the snow melts and power returns, I’ll remember the lessons learned from this memorable weekend, thankful for the variety of experiences that make life in Maine truly special. And I’ll keep preparing for the next unexpected snowstorm.

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