How to Prepare for a “Potentially Historic” Snowstorm


This is from another (smaller) storm…but you get the drift

The storm is brewing. “Potentially historic,” the forecasters are saying. “Up to two feet.” In Maine, you grow used to this. The storms and the predictions. The rush to the grocery store for bread and milk. It’s kind of a joke (that people focus on pre-storm bread and milk), but it’s based on reality. At least that’s what my checker friend Carol says.

Carol is one of the people I see almost every time I go to the large supermarket in our small town. She’s one of the people I enjoy talking to. She’s engaged with customers, but she’s focused on her job, too. I know she has two sons, twins, who are now adults. She loves reading. She’s always upbeat so I seek her out when I look for which line to stand in.

And I’m not the only one. Yesterday while I was standing in Carol’s line, an elderly woman rolled up behind me in a seated shopping cart. She asked if it was a “14 or fewer” line. I said no. When Carol overheard us, she asked me what the woman had said. When I told her, she smiled and said, “That’s because I’m usually at the 14 or fewer registers.” Because Carol is fast. She’s fast and courteous and positive.

I knew the woman in line in front of me, too. She works for a friend of mine—Mark—who runs a catering business. She’s the best at rolling pie dough than anyone I’ve ever seen. And by best, I mean she can roll perfectly round pie crusts, seemingly effortlessly. Mine? Mine are more like oblongs or amoebas or some other amorphous shape.

Mark is famous (I told Carol) for his chicken pies.

“Oh I know,” Carol said. “Mark and I grew up together. We were like cousins.”

Of course. Everyone knows everyone in our small town. In Maine, too. There are only 1.5 million people in the entire state. Here, we have two degrees of separation (compared to the normal six). You don’t mention the name of someone to another person unless you’re saying something flattering—unless you want a fight or a cold shoulder. And those cold shoulders can last a long time (take it from someone who’s breached the two-degree rule on occasion).

The pie roller paid and left, and Carol started ringing up my purchases.

“You know those leftover edges from your rolled dough?” Carol said. “My mom used to make them into popovers. My mom made the best pies…”

Carol spoke lovingly about her mother’s pies—how they grew all the fruit, how she’d fill the freezer with unbaked pies to be baked mid-winter during a storm. I imagined Carol as a small girl, sitting next to the wood stove eating a piece of blueberry pie that was made from berries she and Mark picked the summer before. They wouldn’t care about the weather outside or a power outage, either, because they’d be warmed by the stove and by all the love that went into that blueberry pie.

I paid for my bread and milk and drove home.

Here’s hoping we don’t lose power—and if we don’t I think I might just bake a pie. I have the ingredients. Carol made sure of it.

How do you prepare for an epic storm…or the threat of one? Do you buy bread and milk?


  1. Micky Wolf says:

    Delightful post, Julia. Stirs some random thoughts…

    Ummm, brings back my own childhood memories of something delicious bubbling away to golden goodness in the oven. 🙂

    We have had five plus inches (on top of previous four or so) of snow since last evening here in northeast Ohio. Still coming down! Not near what you are expecting, but enough to make for slow going and close schools. And yep, a trip for bread and milk before the white stuff began to blanket the landscape.

    Am I also reminded of our first home–we installed a hulking air-tight wood burner in the basement, vented it to some of the downstairs duct work and thoroughly enjoyed the toasty warm wood floors. Couldn’t bring it with us to this house for various reasons. Do have a fireplace, which can serve in a pinch if needed.

    Hunker down with a piece of pie and stay warm! 🙂

  2. Lisa says:

    This is such a lovely post. I wish that people around here prepared that way instead of panicking. We did have to do the pre-storm shopping, but we would have had to do that anyway just to have food.

    I’m hoping for a cozy day with no power issues, maybe a pie, maybe some brownies. Lots of books, writing, and projects galore.

  3. Stay warm Julia. My biggest fear around here when the ice and snow strike is that we will lose power. We have four fireplaces in this old house and none work at present. They were all converted to coal burning way back when and it costs a lot to restore them. Your wonderful description of the cast of characters sharing your line is much like our burg. I soon learned that better not say anything too clueless because everyone is either related or went to school together. Look forward to another snowman pic.

  4. Here in SW Ohio everyone panics at the thought of snow and makes a made dash to the grocery to stock up. LOL. Most of the time, our warnings are false anyway. If I had a quarter for every snow forecast we’ve had this winter, I’d be using it to buy a ticket to the NE. I am really bummed, our forecast of a nice ground covering turned into less than 1/2 inch of snow and my son and his family in Boston are expecting 3 feet!! I clearly live in the wrong part of the country. Enjoy your snow and keep warm.

  5. Ann Mc says:

    What a lovely post! I have a cashier I go to in my grocery store and she always asks what my menu is for the week. …like you, my pie crusts always come out amoeba shaped as well (thanks, I could never find the right word for the shape – now my life is complete!)

    Stay safe in the storm! We’re all praying for you down here in the south. I suspect it’s much like preparing for hurricanes. Preparing for the worst, praying for the best.

    Let us know you’re safe!

  6. Cherry Harris says:

    I probably mentioned it , about a zillion times in this blog and others, I have moved to a small community in West Wales just like yours . I am reserved by nature ,but having moved here , I find myself talking to people at supermarkets etc all the time …it’s such a lovely atmosphere .
    I have some very , very ripe bananas that I promised to turn into banana muffins …that’s a start to warm the cockles , especially with a huge mug of hot chocolate to wash it down …yup on to the case tomorrow,

  7. Julia — I loved reading this down-home, heartwarming post. I swear I smelled a pie baking in the background!

  8. What a charming little slice of your life. 🙂 I have to admit, my first thoughts were of Stephen King. He really does capture that small-town Maine vibe well, and so do you! I know you don’t care for horror, but have you ever considered trying some of his non-horror stuff? If nothing else, I think you’d get a kick out of the fact that he always uses Maine (and it pretty well fits what you’ve described here). I hope the snowstorm doesn’t hit you too hard and that you’re snug inside with pies and books by the time it comes through.

  9. Great post, Julia! It’s so nice to connect with neighbors in a meaningful way. I think it makes life a much richer experience. It feels like Cheers — where everybody knows your name. 🙂

    (You would not be able to engage in this kind of small talk with the cashiers in my neighborhood, I’m afraid.)

    Here’s hoping we both successfully ride out the “potentially historic” snowstorm.

  10. Nina says:

    I love the atmosphere I feel with your photos and with your descriptions of your town and your whole state!

  11. I loved reading this and getting to know the people in your town. Such great characterization!

    Hope you’re staying warm, Julia! And that we can catch up again soon! xoxo