A Winter Prelude

I’m sitting in the house that my father bought for my mother as a present sight unseen. The Maine house, where I spent every summer of my life, and the place I chose as my shelter during the years I went to back to school to teach is as much a part of me as my own two feet. As I sit here to write I watch my children play with toys from the family room armoire. Grace has the rectangular blocks set up like a maze, and every McDonald’s figurine (my mother has saved since the beginning of time) is lined along the walls. Sophie’s block tower is getting higher, and Barbies sit watching.  Observers like me.


Outside the window, the snowflakes are coming down. Not fluffy and slow, but quick little circles whipping around directionless. If they ever make it to the cold ground I’ll be very, very surprised. There’s always the question, “Will it stick?”


It’s been six days since we left Raleigh for the 32nd annual Winter Prelude to Christmas. Since arriving last Thursday we’ve stood in the middle of town to watch an enormous Maine pine be lit, its Lobster topper pointing to the sky. We’ve listened to choir children sing like angels from the bed of a flatbed truck, while a thousand people huddled around to sing along in harmony. We watched a living nativity with uncooperative sheep that preferred to show us their backsides instead of faces. We stood along a pier as Santa Claus came through on a fishing boat with two elves dressed as lobsters. We’ve eaten in restaurants, and been nourished by gifts from the sea. There’s been wine, and chocolate, and tea with a friend whose Maine Coon Kitten named Pip batted a plastic squeaky mouse the girls brought as a gift.


Maine is a beautiful place, rich with tradition and history. To be a Mainer you require a certain amount of chutzpa. Winters are tough. The people must be tougher.


The summers here are beautiful, as you might imagine. Pink never looks pinker than on a mid-July sea rose. Bright blue skies bounce down to the sea, which turn the horizon the exact same hue, mirroring each other perfectly.


But the winters, when the bushes are cut back, covered as protection from frosted-icy nights, and the seas grows dark and hard, there’s a quiet that happens in the soul of the people who brave the brutality of the environment.


Human warmth is no match for the outside, bitter cold.


Tomorrow we return to Raleigh, itself a historic place rich with tradition. It’s the place that I delivered my babies, and built my life. It’ll be good to be back to our house and friends and school and work. 


But for now I sit looking out this window. The snow still whips, alas, it sticks.