Down East 2013 ©
I made it a point when launching this blog never to write about the weather. Blathering on about the weather, I reasoned — though we all do it in Maine constantly — ought to be reserved for social networking sites (by which I mean, for example, the checkout line at the grocery store). It has no place in a sober and literate forum like Down East.
This bold resolve has proven a little troublesome in practice. It's hard to click the "Maine Life" tag in clear conscience and then fail to take note of such phenomena as the monsoons last spring and summer which transformed many a backyard vegetable patch into a teeming slug farm. So I've granted myself certain exemptions.
It's okay, I figure, to write about the seasons. Seasons are bigger than weather; they are part of some grand and transcendent natural cycle (albeit one designed by an out-of-work deity freelancing as an apocalypse designer). So it's okay to make occasional mention of, say, the glories of a Maine summer, as long as one is careful to do so in sensitive and nuanced terms, viz.: "No one should leave the house during the month of July on account of mosquitoes."
One should also be able to write freely about the climate. Climate is a big deal these days, and it brings a certain gravitas to an online ramble about the latest dry spell if one can couch it in up-to-date, sophisticated terminology: "My lawn is dying. It's George Bush's fault."
And of course there is the universal exemption that covers gardening. Any statement at all (assuming it is grammatical or, failing that, heartfelt) is on-topic anywhere if it pertains in some way to gardening. Gardening is a much more serious matter than weather, or indeed than almost anything.
One can also refer obliquely to weather-related topics by embedding them in some other context. I admit, this can be a clumsy workaround. ("Isn't it terrible that we're losing such traditional means of earning a livelihood as driving snowplows? And isn't it also terrible that it's costing me more to pay my plow-truck guy than to heat this house, seeing as how it has snowed every other day for the past two months?")
Now with these obvious and common-sensical exceptions I do not intend to waste any space griping about the fact that it rained for two straight days and nights immediately after Christmas, washing away the lovely blanket of snow that covered all my mislaid yard implements and several stray plastic pots. Nor that the subsequent freeze has turned my parking area into a sheet of ice. Nor that my cat pesters me day and night to be let outside and then three minutes later to come in again, because, really, it's frightful out there.
With a little effort, it's quite possible to write thoughtfully about life in Maine with no reference to the weather at all. Here's an example: Last summer I scored an awesome, old-fashioned Brooks Brothers coat for five dollars at a yard sale. It fits perfectly and looks very well over a heavy wool sweater. There are deep pockets to hold your gloves — and by the way, I recommend the kind of gloves with mitten-style tops over cut-out finger holes, so that you can drag out your keys in the bitter cold without fumbling them, losing your balance, and falling on the ice sheet. The one problem with this coat is that it is very long and the tails keep getting caught in the door of my aged Saab. This car is too low to the ground, really, to climb in and out of gracefully with all the bulky clothing you have to wear at this time of year. You'd think the Swedes, with their challenging climate, would have worked this out by now.
At least, thank God, my old car's heater works. And it does handle well in the snow.
See, that wasn't difficult.
Next up: The high cost of fuel oil and the cruel impact it is having on so many Mainers. Also, the question of how to construct a properly insulated cat door.