Chelsey’s blindness and age make navigation difficult. I’ve cut paths to channel her and blocked the exit to the driveway, to keep her from wandering into the street.
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Last February 30″+ of snow buried this river birch. Now it’s a in a frozen puddle of rain and melted snow. Eric at the transfer station reported early sightings of cardinals, goldfinches, and crocuses. Damned Arctic Oscillation.
This interim Maine season, part late winter and part early spring, has a raw beauty. Snow melt saturates the earth, snow lingers in the shade, and dead branches litter the forest floor, but summer’s diversions beckon. The dock needs only one day’s labor (a full day’s labor, true)–and ice out to become the summer living room on the lake. Stacked dock furniture awaits setup, canoes and kayaks need only open water. One of the most fortuitous aspects of my schedule is that the Maine spring comes alive just as the school year winds down. Commencement ceremonies one weekend, dock installation the next. Try to find that in other professions.
I drove north from Boston yesterday afternoon in driving 40 degree rain. A few miles beyond the Maine Turnpike tolls the rain turned to sleet. Two hundred yards ahead–not close enough to threaten collision, close enough to make my heart race–a sedan spun out in the left lane and skidded, back-end first, across three lanes of highway, stopping 20 yards off the shoulder in deep snow. Somehow it didn’t hit another vehicle. I considered stopping to help, call police, console, but a short distance beyond the sedan was a state police cruiser helping another vehicle that had skidded off the road. I saw a dozen more vehicles that had skidded off the highway, their paths marked by swerving tire tracks through the snow. By the time I exited the highway the road surface was less treacherous and the storm was over. I passed a man and snowblower clearing foot-deep snow from his driveway. “That’s odd” I thought. “That snow is so deep–he must not have cleared it for weeks.” What was odd was how long it took me to acknowledge the obvious. This storm, only rain in Boston, dumped a foot of snow in this area of Maine. The camp road was plowed up to my driveway, the entrance to which was blocked by a three-foot high berm of plowed snow.
God invented 4-wheel drive for moments like this. I punched through the snow, negotiated the driveway, and arrived at the house–where I stepped from the cab into calf-deep snow. No boots, no gloves, no hat. Why did I need them? It was raining when I left home. I had to shovel out the front door to get into the house.
It’s worth it. Winter in the Boston area is frozen piles of dirt-blackened snow, plates of ice seemingly welded to road surfaces, the long, slow, painful wait for a thaw. Winter in Maine is this:
Sometimes February in Boston provides a classic New England winter with deep fluffy snow, narrow paths carved through the drifts, and a brilliant blue skies. Other Februaries are like this one. A thin crust of iron-hard frozen gunk covers the ground, sand covers the roads, and lawns are scarred from exuberant cowboy plow operators. It’s hard to imagine how much can change when you travel 120 miles due north.
There has been so much snow that the oil truck has not been able to drive down the access road to get to the house. We’re nursing about a half-tank of oil, keeping the thermostats low and relying on the wood stove and fireplace to maintain a livable temperature. The oil man is due again Monday and part of today’s job was to shovel a path from the driveway to the oil fill pipe–which is located about as far away from the driveway as can be.
In winter, it gets no better than this.