Not deferential enough: Cold

Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2013 in Opinion

Not deferential enough: Cold

by Gina Hamilton

Out of nowhere, a gentleman called me from New York, looking for a copy of an essay written by John Cole.  John, of course, was the editor and co-founder of the original Maine Times, and we don't have the archives to that monumental body of work, but against all odds, I was able to find it for him, republished in the New York Times in 1977.  I am adding it at the bottom of THIS essay for faithful readers to peruse.  You'll have to scroll way down.

As I read the essay, I realized once again that a good part of living in Maine is the seasonality of our existence.  Much of our lives is spent preparing for the cold. 

In the spring, we are cleaning up after the ravages of winter and with hopefulness, planting our crops and raising our chicks and helping our cows give birth.  We are repairing our boats and cleaning up our storefronts for the summer visitors.  We are fixing up our old cars in the vague hope that the vehicle will make it one more year.  We are fixing our roofs and replacing shingles on our barns and sheds and making enough maple syrup to last a whole year, the winter included. 

By summer, we, like the bees, are busily storing up everything needed to keep us going in the cold ... food, money, fuel.  We are finding those places where the old house has failed us, plugging up leaks, re-wrapping pipes that froze twice last year, putting in a new window or storm door.  We're canning our tomatoes and making our jam and our pickles, we're seasoning our wood, we're laying in a supply of kerosene or oil or pellets while they're on sale, we're making hay for our animals, twice, three times if we're lucky. 

By fall, most of the work is behind us, but it's time to batten down the hatches and hang the winter curtains and bring in new gravel and sand and salt.  We buy the kids new coats, try to make ours see another winter by fixing the hole in the pocket and replacing the zipper or the missing buttons, take the boots to the cobbler, and dig out the gloves and scarves and hats from where they spent the summer napping.  We're airing out our down comforters and doing our fall cleaning, knowing we'll be inside for a long, long time.

And then it is winter again, the cold, the penetrating wind, livened up by festivals and holidays, and hopeful preparations for spring.

It's been a rough winter, at least the last few weeks have been, and the preparations for spring are well underway.  Friends are seeing their first lambs appear at last, and others are ordering new chicks and seeds.

But we'll all have survived the cold, and that's the important thing. 























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