This winter is about…


This winter has been trying. The coldest February on record in many parts of Maine. More snow since mid January than we get in an entire winter most years. The statistics speak for themselves.

But this winter is about more than statistics.

This winter it’s hard to get around. There are huge snow banks at the entrances to roads and driveways that makes driving treacherous. People seem grumpier. In their cars. At the grocery store. At the gym. It’s grinding us down, this winter.

This winter is about isolation and crankiness and tiredness. It’s wearing me out. Twenty-two or more days below freezing (I gave up trying to keep track), so I really don’t want to go out. I love being inside at my desk writing, but I am tired even of that. I reach out to friends, but planned outings often need to be postponed due to yet another snowstorm. For a while we were on an every-weekend then every-Wednesday snowstorm schedule. It was predictable. The weather guys on one channel who usually wear sweaters (instead of suits) for storm days stopped wearing them. They stopped playing the “storm center” music, too.

This winter is about water leaking into the house through a new window. It’s about MEH (My Engineer Husband) coming home from work early last Friday to climb up a ladder and scrape snow off the roof with a roof rake. (We have a two story house.) Then he used an axe to break ice a foot thick off the edges of our roof, all around our house, to ensure no more ice dams formed that would allow more water to leak around the roof shingles, through the walls, into our house around our windows. “The water finds a path,” MEH said before climbing another ladder onto the porch roof to shovel snow off of it. MEH spent the better part of the weekend shoveling snow off the roof.

This is usually water...Casco Bay... that's an Osprey nest out there

This is usually water…Casco Bay… that’s an Osprey nest out there on the pole

This winter is about new words and new ways of talking to our neighbors (that we see more at the grocery store than around the neighborhood). Ice dam, roof melt, roof rake, “the water finds a paths,” and “where will we put it?” become common conversation starters.

This winter is about giving up, giving in, embracing. One end of our driveway is unshoveled, unplowed. We have enough room for our two cars. Why should we shovel more? The end of the driveway (that’s not shoveled) has a five foot frozen-solid berm at the end. Snow is piled everywhere. The mailman used to avoid that end of our driveway; now he just walks through the snow and over the frozen berm.

This winter is about layers. Most winters I’ve worn fleece and (TMI?) sometimes long underwear (on top). This winter I wear long underwear (top and bottom) every day, pants and turtleneck, fleece top and bottom over that. Boots outside. Fleece slippers in. Down jacket everyday. And an indispensable lavender scarf my daughter gave me for Christmas. I often wear it in the house, while under the electric blanket.

This winter is about hats. I knit two hats in January before the historic snow season started. One for MEH and one for me. (No, they aren’t the same—color or style—I write that in answer to the question forming: “are they the same?”…a question my daughter already asked me.) I hate hats. (Especially with all the dry air creating static electricity.) But I wear that hat every time I leave the house.


These robins found the morning sun…

This winter is about appreciating…

…the sun. Last weekend we had one day of 40 degrees. We reveled in the warm weather. It was a good day. A great day. It made us remember spring. And that spring is coming.

…the landscape that looks so foreign. The water froze over between the mainland and Cousins Island (a town island connected by bridge). Then it snowed over the ice. And the ice and snow got craggy and crazy looking. I’ve loved taking photos of the unnatural looking landscape. The landscape is so foreign that sometimes when I’m driving I miss a turn and find a new way home.

…the birds. Watching the crows roost. Hundreds upon hundreds of crows flying from tree to tree at sunset, looking for a place to roost. I’ve never seen this before. It was amazing. I also watched flocks of robins…I never realized that some robins winter over in Maine. I thought a lot about being a bird and trying to survive outside in this winter.

This winter is about new terrain, new landscapes, new landmarks, new ways of thinking and feeling and acting, new sights and sounds.

This winter is (I hope) almost over.

How’s winter going in your neighborhood? What is winter about for you?


  1. Nina says:

    February . . . it is that sweet spot (not so sweet, but you know what I mean) when it has been SO COLD for SO LONG and yet spring is not around the corner yet, not in Minnesota or in Maine where it can still snow in April for goodness sake. You have had a much harder winter than me though this year. Still, I feel a bit of a kindred spirit with you in our two states separated by so many between us yet not worlds away.

    • We’re definitely state kindred spirits (in addition to the #teamblueandblack)…our weather this year is very similar to Minnesota’s usual, in fact. Yes, February, particularly the end, feels like it should be a turning point. When it shines, the sun feels like spring, yet the snow is still here and it’s cold. Here’s to our two M states warming up soon!

  2. Micky Wolf says:

    We’re on track for the coldest February on record–ever. Plenty of snow, too, although not nearly as much as you have received. I sit at my desk, appreciating the opportunities to hibernate and write, thankful I do not have to battle the elements on a daily basis as others do. And the poor birds…didn’t know a purple flinch could fluff itself so big.

    I second the notion that winter is almost over! Looking forward to lotsa sunshine, green grass (it is under all that somewhere?) and walks through the neighborhood minus the layers of leggings and woolies. 🙂

    Hang in there! Spring’s a comin’. BTW–your photos, as always, are worth more than a thousand words. 🙂

    • Glad you like the photos, Micky! Thank you. Like you, I appreciate the opportunity to hibernate and write, but do feel a bit hermit-y. Here’s to lots of sunshine and a colorized world and outside walks! Sounds lovely!

  3. Kristen says:

    I love how you and Lindsey both wrote this week about this unbelievable winter. You both capture the essence of what it’s been like. I’m in acceptance mode about it all now, but like you with dealing with the cold, I am fighting a losing battle with dry, itchy skin. I feel like I am putting on lotion every hour, to no avail. The humidifiers have been running nonstop since December, often requiring a refill twice a day! So I’m definitely with you on that last part about what winter makes us appreciate. The other day, that warm(ish) day, the birds were singing in a totally different way, their spring song. It felt so hopeful. I’m trying to hang on to their optimism (and obvious confusion!).

    • I KNEW I forgot some of the key elements of winter. And lotion. Yes. SUCH dry, itchy skin, and it definitely leads to more crabbiness. I don’t use a humidifier, so maybe I should try that, good idea! It seems so crazy to humidify in winter and dehumidify in summer, right? Yes to hanging on to hope and optimism, I’m with you on that one. I loved Lindsey’s post btw, and then I looked back and realized I may need to blog about something new. This is my FIFTH blog in a row about winter. At least I finally found my niche 😉

  4. Wow, Julia. I’m cold now. You made me feel like I was in an apocalyptic world with no more sun. I’m sorry this winter has been so brutal for you up there. We just got our first snow a couple of days ago here, and it’s already melted. Further south than us they won’t get any snow at all most years, and still I feel the effects of winter weighing on me. (Less sun, too much wet, etc.) I can’t imagine the levels of stay-inside-ness you’re talking about. Hang on, my friend. Spring will come!

    • Thank you for the compliment (but sorry I made you feel cold). It’s soooo apocalyptic feeling around here on days. Honestly there are whole days I see NO ONE. Weird, huh? I’m so glad you got some snow, I know it’s so much more fun and special when there’s just a little andit’s gone right away. Here’s to spring soon for all of us. It will come…

  5. Chris Jones says:

    My winter has in no way been as isolationg and cold as yours, but like you, I love being outdoors and I can’t be. My skin is dry, my hip flexors feel non-existentent and I long for spring. I need a day on the trails, an afternoon in a kayak, or just to lay in the sun. Not long now. We’re getting close. I hope you warm up soon!

    • I hope your weather has warmed up by the time you gt this (very late!) reply to your comment, Chris. We are very slowly warming up, yesterday it was almost 40! BUT we have feet of snow on the ground that will likely be around until at least mid-April. Here’s hoping for spring… (although, let me tell you, that 40 felt amazing!)

  6. Cherry Harris says:

    Oh Julia I can feel the crankiness and frustration oozing from your words poor you . I love the snow but I am sure I wouldn’t like what you have right now …too much of anything and all that jazz .
    Do you know I can identify with what you are saying that you love writing but you can even have too much of that . If I have a few days to myself I have plans , great plans , then I start thinking I’m not ready for all this time and I want hubby back to annoy me again ha ha .
    Here in West Wales we had one shower of snow after Christmas and that was it . I felt completely cheated but now we have have an abundance of snowdrops daffodils and bleating lambs everywhere …I love it . I do hope your Spring comes soon …thinking of you bless.

    • I am SOOOO envious of your snowdrop daffodils. I think it will be at least a month before we see any spring bulbs. The lilacs usually bloom mid-May…we’ll see. Enjoy the flowers and scents of spring for me!

  7. It’s snowing as I type this… I’m ready for spring.

    Walking to the subway in -17 degree wind chills last week just did me in. But then this morning, I was walking Reggie through the park and I couldn’t help but think that there was a beauty in the stark landscape: the bare trees that let you see all the way to the other side of the park and the white velvet blanket. A bird (cardinal?) was on one of the branches and tweeting away. It really was lovely.

    And spring will be even more wonderful after such a cold winter. 🙂

    • Those sub zero wind chills are the worst! And although there’s beauty in the starkness, yesterday was warm and sunny (well 40) and it was incredible to just walk outside without feeling painfully cold. I totally agree, spring will be all the sweeter!

  8. Chris says:

    We missed having the WARMEST February on record and would have if not for a couple chilly days right at the end of the month. As a person who loves the cold time of year, I’m almost jealous of you….

    • I’ve heard tell of the warm Montana winter… so I know what you mean about almost jealous. Maybe I’d wish for snow, too? Um, probably not, but still wish I could send you a little of this cold and snow, Chris. Could you get a couple of cold months or is it all said and done now? (I don’t think we’re out of the woods until mid April)

  9. I smile as I read this post again, Julia, and I think I had to wait to comment until a glimpse of spring was in sight. Yes, it’s been a tough winter. We had 4 hard winters in Prague while here in Ohio during that time temps hardly fell below freezing. Now that we’ve been back in Ohio 2 winters, it’s as if we brought the frigid Prague weather and snow with us — I think the Midwest has never had snow covering the grass for as long as periods in these past 2 years. Crazy, right? But, the one thing I believe is that spring is never more beautiful than after so much snow and cold. It will be a beautiful spring. To spring! xo

    • It really is crazy. Maine hasn’t had a winter like this since 1979. As you say, spring will be even more beautiful. And it’s so much easier to wait when it truly is right around the corner. I’ll echo your sentiment… “to spring”! xo

  10. Leah says:

    These images are just incredible! Not only are they gorgeous, but for this San Diegan, it’s always hard to imagine it real. But I love the beauty and true representation of winter.

    • Thank you, Leah!!! I’m so glad my photos give you a feel of winter. I absolutely love San Diego weather and wish we could trade places for each of us to truly get the flavor of the place. BUT I strongly suggest we wait until summer… you’ll have more fun here 😉