Are Maine Winters Murder? Try Some Of This Stuff!

Sandy Neily sharing  here. (And there will be more good winter stuff; look for a special Maine Crime Writers “Cabin Fever” post, January 30th.)

My deck, daylight. Before the plow …

It was late.  The snow was still falling furiously and I was still typing furiously, finally getting down a scene where my narrator Patton and her dog Pock face death. (Deadly Turn is due out in 2019). Snowplows rumbled on roads across the cove, swinging their lights back and forth over my desk. I typed on in Patton’s voice:


“ ‘Don’t look,’ I yelled at Pock, dragging him up the rock. ‘Don’t look at the bad thing. Just don’t look!’

I couldn’t resist a peek. Instantly I wished I’d never seen that perfect wave in The Perfect Storm.  The wave swallowing the top of the rapids seem to hang in the air—heavy with pulsing weight. Then without breaking, it rolled downriver like a giant, white fist aimed at us. I dropped to the rock and wrapped one hand around the iron ring and another around Pock’s collar, twisting it tight so it wouldn’t slip off. I took a deep breath and curved my back into what was coming.”


And then I stopped typing. Snow slapped my windows in a white wave so hard panes rattled and pictures fell off the sills. I opened the door to see what the plow had done.

Raven and I considered the chest-high wall of snow left by the plow. (See the picture.)

“You really need to pee before bed?” I asked.

She wagged, cocked her head, and jingled her collar. What do YOU think?

Unable to contemplate shoveling with pajama pants on, I simply yelled and charged the snow wall. On my back in the driveway, I had a clear view of Raven calmly stepping over me, squatting, and then climbing back over me into the house.

The next morning, (January 21, 2019) I realized the storm had been a “where-the-hell-is-the-car” storm. My Subaru was completely buried. After I found it, dug it out, and moved it, a car-sized snow angel outline decorated the stone wall. (See the picture: car outline.)

Yes, winter. It’s often a big deal.

So just to remind myself and our readers that there’s great reasons to savor Maine winters, here’s a list of winter things to do.

Now Get Out There!

Go to Maine Public’s online calendar; it lists indoor and outdoor stuff to do all over the state. (Don’t forget the Boothbay Opera house. It’s often very affordable. Across the street is a small bakery run by a Vietnamese family. The wonton soup and dumplings are to die for and totally unexpected. Boothbay? Winter?

Here’s my favorite indoor day trip strategy. Because (for just a few dollars a month) I am an Evergreen Friend at Maine Public, I have a card good for all kinds of discounts all over the state. My husband and I use the two-for-one restaurant offers all the time. Next up, a trip Rockland to the Farnsworth Museum (two for the price of one) and Café Miranda (same deal). Funky décor; amazing food.

Skidompha Used Books Store

On the way home, we’ll stop at one of my favorite second hand books stores. Down a back street in Damariscotta, it hangs over the tidal comings and goings of the river. It’s light and airy, has a fabulous carpeted kids’ section, a riverside alcove with bird guides and binoculars, and room to explore or spread out and work. Oh, and the fireplace with cozy chairs.

Kate Furbish, “Trillium”

Then next time we’re off to the Bowdoin Art Museum (it’s free) and an Evergreen Friends two-for-one meal at the Frontier. I’ve wanted to see the famous Maine botanist Kate Furbish exhibit there. (Ends in February.)

Now for the outdoors! You might be surprised.

HURRY UP! This ends January 31. If you always wanted to learn to ski or snowboard, or set up a friend or relative to learn the slopes Sunday River is offering the deal of the year. For just $29, you get rentals, a nice, long lesson, and the rest of the day to practice with a lift ticket. (This would normally cost around $275 I think.) Later on, just go to the Ski Maine website and cruise around on member websites (both cross country and downhill) to find affordable mid-week and two-for deals, especially at smaller hills.

Winter Kids! This non-profit exists to get Maine kids and families outside in the winter. The Passport Program offers free and discounted access to outdoor activities in Maine for kids grade five through seven. For most skating rinks and downhill and Nordic areas, the passport nets a free youth ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket. “Family Days” offer further discounts. With twenty-five percent of Passport holders new to winter sports, the program is truly bringing new people to the Maine outdoors.

Strap on a pair of snowshoes and walk around the woods and fields finding tracks  and scat. (Kids love scat clues.) How do you snowshoe? I tell folks, wear warm boots, just walk a bit wider and use some poles for balance. It’s sooooooo easy, feels great, and you’ll find wildlife all around you. In March, there will be hooting owls!  Track Finder and Scats and Tracks are my favorite guides: small, easy to carry, and easy to understand.  

Reid State Park: snowshoe or ski in, hike the beach out.

Maine State Parks and Public Lands site has information on groomed ski and snowshoe trails and some wonderful winter beach walking.  (I noticed Lily Bay State Park, Greenville is not listed and it has great groomed and signed trails.)

Both the Appalachian Mt. Club and Maine Huts and Trails have wonderful hut to hut or camp to camp ski packages with amazing meals. (AMC will take your gear from sporting camp to sporting camp.) I also hop on their groomed trails for day excursions.

Raven loves winter. Good idea. Let’s all get out there and rub it in!

Parks and Lands, AMC, and Huts and Trails sites are dog friendly. Clean up! Clean up!


Raven and I waited for snowmobiles to pack down snow on Moosehead Lake before I put on my skis. Large fluffy tracks stalked the lake and then disappeared into the air near shore. A mystery! I thumbed through my Track Finder guide book. Lynx. Lynx jumping up a tree. Lynx in my backyard.

How cool is that?

Sandy’s novel “Deadly Trespass, A Mystery in Maine” won a Mystery Writers of America award and was a finalist in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association “Rising Star” contest. It’s at all Shermans Books and on Amazon. Find more info on the video trailer and Sandy’s website. “Deadly Turn” will be published in 2019.















About Sandra Neily

Sandy’s novel “Deadly Trespass” received a Mystery Writers of America award, was named a national finalist in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association “Rising Star” contest, a finalist in the Mslexia international novel competition, a runner- up in Maine’s Joy of the Pen competition, and recently, an international SPR fiction finalist. Sandy lives in the woods of Maine and says she’d rather be “fly fishing cold streams, skiing remote trails, paddling near loons, or just generally out there—unless I’m sharing vanishing worlds with my readers. "
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4 Responses to Are Maine Winters Murder? Try Some Of This Stuff!

  1. Cindy says:

    Fabulous post! Thank you for all the great inspiration!

  2. Brenda Buchanan says:

    Great suggestions all around, Sandy. Thanks for this wonderful post.

    How thrilling to think about a link jumping from the frozen lake into an overhanging tree!

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