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Published: June 10th 2017
Geo: 44.9653, -69.1086
It's been a very long, very cold, very snowy winter, the second snowiest winter on record for this part of the world. Our area has received almost three times the expected average amount of snow for the total winter! And I survived staying home for all these frozen months. This was a huge accomplishment for me, one I haven't done in years, but that hadn't been my plan; I had intended to go volunteer in Bali, or Sri Lanka, or India, or to teach a semester in the Philippines, but nothing came clear, nothing was so compelling that I felt excited about rushing to confirm the months I'd be gone, or to book flights. I did pay for expediting my new passport, but that turned out to be wasteful. So, rather than act for the sake of just going somewhere, just escaping, I waited until I was sure about what I wanted to do, and the winter simply happened and drew me along with it.
The xc skiing was incredibly wonderful this season; that was a gift for staying in Maine this year. There is an intricate system of snowmobile trails winding their ways through towns and communities all around us; when the kids were growing up we would take lunches in our backpacks and spend whole days on the trails, skiing and marvelling at the beauty of the wild woods surrounding us, stepping off into deep snow to let snowmobilers pass, waving at everyone who went by. Now we just go for an afternoon or so, but that is enough of a meditative workout to encourage blissful feelings of well-being, as well as good sleeping at night. We also skiied on trails at the City Forest, and love to take a day skiing on Mt. Desert Island on the groomed trails in Acadia National Park (our home for hiking during the summer months), seeing Frenchmen Bay in the distance as we ski around Paradise Hill and Witch Hole Pond, or zigging and zagging past the seven bridges on Aunt Betty's Pond loop, or the wonderful fast run on Amphitheater loop, or even Eagle Lake. During the summer months Eagle Lake is overrun with bicyclists, frequently out-of-control as they careen down the long gravelly slopes, but in winter, there are many fewer hardy souls who ski on the groomed and ungroomed trails in the Park.
Our tribe of cats was very happy to have me home this winter, and the National Theatre Live kept me enthralled with theater productions from London and New York, operas from the Met, and amazingly magnificent and glorious ballets from the Bolshoi Ballet, so there were some very happy times staying here in Maine. We also took many trips to Boston, to hear splendidly brilliant early music concerts, and to see the Boston Ballet, two passions of mine. But I am tired of shoveling off the porch, and my car, and stomping down the driveway to make a path to the mailbox (too lazy to put on my snowshoes, although you can sink up to your hips if you venture out back without them). The calendar says it is almost spring, but the feet and feet of snow outside plus the much colder than average temperatures, PLUS the continuing heavy snowstorms belie the turning of the earth. Just this weekend we got another foot of fresh new snow, with another storm predicted for tomorrow, St. Patrick's Day. Winter can be brutally gorgeous here, and I do enjoy sitting in front of the lovely warmth of our woodstove in the evenings, letting the heat soak into my bones, but seven straight months of cold can fill one with ennui; weariness and melancholy can set in and take hold. So I am finally leaving!
Next week I'm heading to Europe, specifically to explore Berlin first, then on to Holland to hopefully see the tulips in bloom and to bicycle along the canals. My dear friend, Louise, spoke of wanting to go see the tulips in bloom, but she couldn't come this year, so I decided to just do it anyway. Why not? (Who knows how long we'll have to do everything we want to do? Better to do things when you can rather than have regrets afterwards.) And then I'll go to Belgium, and maybe to Luxembourg before returning home in mid-April, hopefully by that time to hear the peepers sing me to sleep at night.
Maybe all the snow will be melted by the time I get back; maybe we'll be able to see the bare ground again; maybe all the mud on the roads will have dried up after all the melting; maybe it will get up to the 50s or (fingers crossed) the 60s during the daytime and stay above freezing at night. Wishful thinking. Here we can expect a frost up until Memorial Day, so our growing season is very short as we can have a frost in mid-September, around the time of the full moon. There are benefits as well as deficits living almost anywhere, but especially after this winter, I am ready to try living in a warm climate year-round and see what that feels like. It would be better if Bill would keep his promises to retire; having your mate as a companion must be the best way to explore new vistas, a new way of living, a new chapter in life! Facing into the unknown with your partner is so much better than going it alone, but what can be done if one half of the couple is only happy doing what he has done for years, if he only feels safe in the comfort of what he knows? Perhaps trying to figure out an answer to this overwhelming problem was a part of my languidness this year.
The countries I am traveling to this time won't be very warm, but they will offer new experiences for me as I haven't yet seen that part of the world. I am happy in third world countries (as long as I can find western toilets), but why limit oneself to what is known? There will be new customs, new languages, new cultures, new people to meet and get to know; maybe in one (or two or three) of these places we will find some place else on earth that calls to us, somewhere we'd prefer to live. Exploring and traveling through the world is exciting, colorful, educational, fun, plus it will give me more countries to put on my list, on my way to reaching 100. Just about halfway there.
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