Storm’s a Comin’

Everyone in Maine loves the weather. Now, I don’t mean we’re always thrilled with what it’s actually doing at any given moment, but everyone is gleefully consumed by the general concept of weather.

Due to the various atmospheric properties of this part of the country, and unlike other places I’ve lived, the State of Maine generally gets almost a full week of warning about upcoming heat waves, big winds, deep chills, and, of course, storms.

I’m reminded of this once again as I’m sitting here this morning, a day bright with sunshine, blue sky, and high, wispy clouds:

Don’t be fooled.

But everyone already knows the truth: the storms’ a comin’. The good folks at the National Weather Service are busy cranking out probability maps, and the local news manages to tease a five minute forecast into a full hour of programming. And people like me are gearing up for the greatest tradition anywhere: going down to the town store, standing in the parking lot and squinting to the horizon, and muttering “storms’ a comin’.” If there is someone else in earshot, they’ll say it to you and you’ll nod. If not, you say it to yourself.

This may sound like hyperbole, but it’s absolutely true. I’d explained the phenomenon (a pastime, really) to my wife before we’d moved here, and she had been… incredulous. That is until one day last summer, when some heavy thundershowers had been predicted, and we both got “storm’s a comin’d” by a stranger next to the beer cooler in the grocery store.

So what do people actually do here to prepare for a blizzard? Well, the prevailing wisdom seems to be to buy a lot of bread and milk, as if the key to survival somehow involves french toast. Most homes in this part of the state are on private wells, so no electricity means no running water, so that’s a consideration. And, presuming you have a wood stove, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a good supply of dry wood.

(As an aside, the power grid seems much improved from my childhood, when outages of a week or more were almost a guarantee at least once a winter. In those situations, your wood stove becomes your actual stove, buckets of snow are brought in to melt for usable gray water, and everyone goes to bed when it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon.)

Otherwise, the bulk of activity the day before a storm is spent stopping around town to talk about it. Which reminds me: I’m late.

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