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I don’t know what the weather’s doing as you’re reading this, but as I’m writing this here at Storyteller Central, in the second week of the New Year, the weather outside is about as warm and weird and out of the ordinary and as I’ve ever seen it in Maine in January.
It’s not like I’ve never seen winter weather that’s different. I’m old enough to have experienced many isolated mild winter days before, and I hope to experience more in the future. But the days we’ve been having lately – warm, even balmy days – aren’t like any I can remember anytime here in Maine.
Continuing their tradition of reporting the obvious, local television stations fill their nightly news with stories about how warm it is – like we didn’t know. We’re also being told about how the lack of snow is affecting the ski resorts and the businesses that depend on the hordes of skiers that flock to Maine’s mountains in winter.
In Maine in January ice fisherman normally have their ice shacks available to them. With no ice to put ice shacks on, these poor sportsmen are being forced to spend more time with the family. Some have said that if things don’t improve – that is freeze up – they may give up ice fishing all together, or at least find a new place to drink!
Maybe I’ve been listening too much to overnight radio hosts like Art Bell but I almost feel like I’ve been kidnapped and transported by aliens to a place that’s several hundred miles and several degrees closer to the Equator. Despite that, I figure I must still be in Maine because yesterday I had lunch with a friend who owns a store that sells things that have always been useful here in Maine in winter -- remember shovels and snow blowers?
After settling into a booth at the Mainely Food Diner and giving the waitress our order my friend and I started making small talk. I avoided asking how business was because I figured in his case, it was pretty bad. Eventually he volunteered the information saying the weather’s so strange around Maine this January that he could probably still be selling lawnmowers and weed whackers if he hadn’t put his warm weather stuff away for the winter.
When I was a kid my grandfather would tell me stories about the wild winters they had when he was young. I didn’t know if any of his stories were true and to tell you the truth I didn’t care, I just liked the way he told them.
He’d always begin by saying the winters we were having then were nothing like the winters of his childhood when it would snow almost non-stop from December to March.
There were stories about fierce blizzards that lasted for days and when they finally stopped snowing the only way to get outside was to climb out an attic window.
I don’t have any grandchildren to tell winter stories to yet, but when they finally arrive I plan to tell them about the Weird Winter of 2007 – the winter that was so warm that no snow blowers were sold anywhere in Maine.
I just hope I can still remember what snow blowers look like.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly
throughout New England. John’s e-mail address is mainestoryteller@yahoo.com.
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