Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Maine Weather Forecast: Always Icy

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Maine Weather Forecast: Always Icy

Article excerpt

Here in Maine, ice is both the precursor and hanger-on of winter. It arrives as October's first frost - decimating the garden in one fell swoop - and lingers long past spring's first gleaming.

As I look out my window at the sidearm of the Penobscot River on which I live, it is still locked up tight, bound from bank to bank with a flat, unbroken sheet of ice as gray and smooth as slate. Well after spring has arrived, it will persist like a remnant of that extinct civilization called winter.

While snow may come and go, ice is a constant during the cold months. It not only transforms the waterways, but, greedily, it clutches at everything: fence posts, windshields, telephone poles and wires, and the eaves of the house, where it hangs down like sharks' teeth, glistening in the sun.

Recently my 10-year-old son and I came home on a fairly mild day to find huge stalactites of ice hanging from the gutters. "Wow!" Anton shouted, which inspired me to grab hold of one and break it loose at the root, like unseating a tusk. I handed him the four- foot-long ice stick and then extracted one for myself. We indulged in a bit of swordplay until the ice lay in shards at our feet.

By the next afternoon, after another thaw-and-freeze cycle, the things hung in front of the back door like a portcullis, through which my son burst in an exuberance of ice fever.

The power of ice goes beyond pleasing a child. Every winter, without fail, I bite my lip in daily anticipation of the day when a door won't close or a window won't open. As the ice sinks its claws into the earth about the house, it heaves our abode like a weight lifter hoisting a large piece of furniture on his back. This leads to the ritual of having to lean heavy objects against doors to keep them from swinging open. And then, one day, the heaving subsides, the weight lifter drops his load, and all our hatches are once again battened.

This winter began in mild fashion. But then, at the end of January, it turned bitter. The cold was so profound that it felt as if it were coming not at me, but from inside me. There just seemed to be no way to stay warm.

Ice formed on the walls inside our house, low down, next to the beds. …

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