Powerless in Maine
As I write this I find myself once again pleasantly, albeit unexpectedly, ensconced at my lakeside camp in rural Washington County. Not that there is actually such a thing as urban Washington County, you understand.
But, I digress. Sunday last I drove my wife and 18-year-old stepdaughter to the Portland Jetport. They were headed south for a week of sun and fun in Florida and I had plans to spend a productive week working in my home recording studio in Brunswick. Things went along just fine until I awakened Monday morning to a cold house. It was clear that as I slept the previous day’s warm, spring-like drizzle had morphed into a heavy wet blanket of snow and that overnight I’d joined the 100,000-plus Maine households struggling to function without heat or electricity.
How’s this for a 21st century Maine bumper sticker: Warming Globally, Freezing Locally!
I hastily built a roaring fire to take the chill off, rounded up the 8 lb. dog (a much simpler proposition than it was when I was being towed around by a brace of huskies a few years back) and headed out into the fresh-minted winter wonderland in search of a hot cup of java and a warm place to sit. On the way I paused to snap a couple of Christmas card shots on my cell phone and send them along to my wife and daughter in Florida.
Nothing enhances a Florida vacation quite as much as solid confirmation that the folks back home are suffering the rigors of a Maine winter.
My regular coffee place was plunged in darkness but a few more minutes of four wheeling around town got me to where I needed to be. As I sipped my coffee I considered "Plan B."
So exactly what is "Plan B.” anyway? The last time this happened, during the early December ice storm, we were powerless for two-and-a-half days. After running a few errands and getting a not-too-optimistic CMP outage update on the car radio, I returned to find the fire dying and the lights still off. A couple of calls to neighbors downeast confirmed my suspicions that while the snowfall there had been a lot heavier than we experienced in Brunswick the power hadn’t even flickered once. “Plan B.” was a no brainer. Within the hour the dog and I were headed for warmth and heat.
I always feel like I’m abandoning ship when this happens. Practically speaking there just isn’t much to be done until the power comes back on. Like a lot of other Mainers, we’re seriously considering a back-up generator system for next season, but that won’t keep me warm today. So, I’m writing this from camp where the biggest challenge this morning was shoveling a path for the propane deliveryman to get to the tanks ‘round back. That was a big enough challenge for me. At one point the tunnel of snow towered a foot or more above my 6’ plus height! It was a weirdly claustrophobic experience. I felt like one of those arctic explorers they show in National Geographic mugging for the camera inside the mouth of a half-mile deep crevasse in some ancient ice floe. Anyway the path is clear now. I can’t vouch for how long it’ll stay that way. The fellow who shovels the roof is coming and a bit later and I’ll have to remember to ask him not to dump all the roof snow on that side of the building.
Maybe before I head home I’ll try shoveling another path through the deep powder so that I can visit my motorcycle, which is safely stored in the heated basement. As some of you know I’ve been riding motorcycles for nearly 40 years and for hard-core two wheel fans like me nothing beats a bit of motorcycle fantasizing to break through the winter doldrums. The bike stored at camp is actually my ‘back up” ride. It’s a 1975 Honda Goldwing with just 21,000 miles on the clock. That’s the first year they built the Goldwing and back then it was a radical design featuring all sorts of exotic technology, a flat four engine, a radiator, shaft drive and even a tricky “fake gas tank with storage space where the real gas tank is “supposed to be.” The ‘wing is what folks like me call a “time machine.” It’s completely stock and still looks pretty much the way it did when it rolled off the showroom floor during the waning years of the Ford administration. Just crank it up and you can almost ride back in time to a simpler age.
I keep it at camp so that I’m not as tempted to put excessive miles on it and it’s lots of fun to watch modern day bikers ( many of them younger than my bike ) gawking at it when I fill up at the Irving station at the eastern terminus of state Route. 9 — The Airline. That’s a popular pitstop for long-haul bikers, many of them mounted on current editions of my bike. These modern ‘wings have grown an extra set of cylinders in the 35 years since my oldwing was built and they’re loaded with a list of features that would make a Buick owner green with envy. Besides a full faring to ride behind you’ll find Lazy Boy-style seating for driver and passenger and such luxuries as multi-speaker am/fm/CD/stereo, cruise control, GPS navigation, ABS brakes the list goes on up to and including an airbag if you’d like one.
Yikes! Before I spring for a motorcycle with an airbag I think I’ll take another look on E-bay for a nice clean mid-seventies Buick convertible.
So, I’ll finish up here and go daydream a bit but I’m not going to get too worked up. When all this snow finally does melt we’re apt to be in for a classic mud season. If so, I won’t be able to navigate the trail from the basement to the driveway much before June anyway. Meanwhile we’ll all just try to stay warm, eh? Thanks for checkin’ in and please leave a comment. I really enjoy hearing from you.
Read more from Maine humorist Tim Sample here.