In downeast Maine, the late autumn’s unaccustomed mildness has been good for some local tradespeople. It’s too chilly for outdoor house painting, but not for carpenters, roofers, or even excavators to hustle around comfortably, getting another job done and socking another few bucks away against the looming heating oil bill. Scallop harvesters, too, can go fishing without risk of their boots freezing to the deck between one step and the next, or of their icicle fingers snapping off when they yank their gloves.
For my writing self, though, pleasant weather is the enemy. After all, any time I take a walk here in Eastport I can tell myself I’m ‘soaking up atmosphere for a book.’ A chat session, conducted while basking in the sun on a bench outside Bank Square Pizza on Water Street, can be labeled ‘research.’ And, should I give in to temptation and wander out onto the breakwater, with long watery views to Canada and to the seaside village of Lubec, I’m ‘getting inspired.’
But sooner or later all this mental and spiritual prep work must be justified, and that’s where winter comes in. Days when it gets dark at three in the afternoon, when my office is so chilly that I’m tempted to wear a hat and fingerless gloves, and when that rumble from outside isn’t an earthquake, it’s just the plow going by again – that, friends, is when I can really sock out the pages. Because really, what else is there to do?
Oh, I suppose I could take up a winter sport. Let’s see, now…skating? But if I break a wrist, I won’t be able to type. Skis require snow, and what we get here on our little granite island halfway out into the North Atlantic is sleet, slush, freezing rain, freezing mist, and snow that melts, then freezes. Sledding, see ice, above, and ice hockey – right, I’d be great at that. The other players could use me for a cushion if they fell, since I’d already be sprawling most of the time (an athlete I’m not; also see broken wrist).
In short, in a downeast Maine winter there’s nothing for me to do but walk (I’ve got ice cleats so sharp, you could stride up the side of a building in them), work on this old house (as usual), eat (note to self: why is it that less exercise makes a person more hungry?) and –
Bring it on. Darkness? I can handle it. Cold? Pshaw, I tweak the frozen nose of sub-zero temperatures. Sleet, slush, fog so cold it tinkles and falls to the ground when you walk through it? Nothing to it.
To sum up, then: Put up your dukes, you icy behemoth, but for heaven’s sake, hurry. I’ve got a book to write, and even though it’s fifty and sunny out today, with the deadline I’ve got hanging over me I can’t take much more of this wonderful, fabulous, marvelous, glorious…
Um, what was I saying? Oh, yeah: winter. Sigh. But — bring it on.