Hey all. Gerry Boyle here, wishing you a happy 2014.
The year is off to a chilly, snowy start in my neck of the Maine woods. Temps way below zero every night, remnants of the pre-Christmas ice storm glistening and crackling in the trees, a foot of snow in the last dump and more forecast for today, and a northwest wind building.
This isn’t to say I haven’t done my share of grumbling. The best gift I received this year came at 2:34 a.m. Christmas day. Santa (in the form of crews from Central Maine Power) hit the switch and the house came back to life. Me and the cat high-fived.
Nothing against candles and cooking outside on the gas grill, but I’m a sucker for running water. But when the Maine weather stirs itself awake and reminds us that, no, this isn’t North Carolina, I have to smile. In fact, walking today and taking in the ice-bowed birches, birds pecking at crystalized berries on the trees, deer tracks in the snow, I got a jolt of creative energy. It was time to explore yet again this recurring character called Maine.
I haven’t written a winter book in some time and now I’m ready. Darkness at 4 o’clock. The silence of winter nights broken by the sound of trees cracking in the deep woods. Ramshackle compounds on back roads, a chimney spewing woodsmoke. The clues left overnight in new snow. Deer. Coyote. Work boots. You can commit crimes in the Maine winter, but it’s tough to disappear without a trace.
There’s a malevolence to a Maine winter, too, the lethal edge of bitter cold and icy water. Go down in the snow on a sub-zero night–injured, drunk, disoriented–and there’s a good chance you won’t get up. Go down in a snowstorm and there’s a good chance you won’t be found, not before April.
Whoah, this got dark in a hurry, just like the light fading as I write this in the late afternoon. Sorry about that. I really did want to give the Maine winter a shout-out, tell those snowbirds in Florida what they’re missing. Wind-chill advisory for today, exposed skin may be damaged by single-digit temperatures and gusts that have blown in all the way from northern Canada.
So who would be out on a night like this? You’d have to be nuts. Or desperate. Up to no good. Or terrified. Tracks that lead from an abandoned car on a lonely stretch of frozen road, veer into the woods, the wrong way, for a long way. And then end.
Nobody. No body. Nothing.
Chapter 2 ….
Maine winter, a writer’s best friend.