The snows and cold used to come a lot earlier to Maine thirty and fifty years ago, but now, in this time of increased climate change, winter doesn’t seem to really get underway until January and February. I remember my mother’s stories of snow that reached the second-story window, and how she and her brothers would slide right down off the roof and down the snow-bank. Today we’re lucky to see a few feet of snow a year, and the temperatures are mild compared to what the old-timers recall, and yet every year I still dread this part of winter in Maine.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I love Maine. I love the irregular coastline, the mountains that appear gray-blue on the horizon, and the densely forested wilderness (90% of Maine’s landscape is forested). I love it in the spring time when that yellowy-green color of new leaves is spreading across the countryside. In the summer when everything is bursting with life all green and vibrant, I love it then, too. Autumn in New England is renown worldwide for it’s resplendent colors, and folks come from far and wide to appreciate nature’s glory at that time of the year. Even winter is lovely in Maine, with everything blanketed in white, so peaceful and serene; it is a time of renewal–a necessity for nature’s age-old cycles.
But as much as I love all these things and more about Maine, I admit I struggle every year with winter’s long months. I very much do not like to be cold. Temperatures in Maine during January and early February range between 10-degrees Fahrenheit and minus-fifty below (new record set in 2009). I avoid leaving the warmth of my house if I can.
Snow-storms may be less severe than they were a generation ago, but life here still grinds to a screeching halt at the onset of a Winter Storm Warning. Public schools let out early or close altogether, government offices and agencies close up, residents mob the local grocery store stocking up before they hole up in their homes to wait out the storm. Snow-plows and sand-trucks patrol the streets, their rumbling, clanking sounds unmistakable. I avoid driving on snow-packed and ice-slick roads at all costs, and so we are often at-home during this part of winter in Maine.
At the beginning of February spring is still weeks away, and the cold and snow begin to take their toll, making me winter-weary. As someone who has a very real need to be outdoors and active, the long months with little interaction with nature even affect my psyche. That’s why it’s important to find ways to keep busy, and to get the family out of the house, into the community, or outside. Even in this forsaken part of Maine there are things families can do to get out and about and stave off those winter blues.
Visit a Local Greenhouse
This is a refreshing way to spend some time away from the house. The colors and scents will stimulate your senses, and the warmth and light inside the grow-house will invigorate you. In all reality spring is just a couple of months away, even here in central Maine, and this bright spot of green might just carry you through to warmer–and greener–days.
Check Out the Kennebec Historical Society
Housing historical documents, articles, photographs, scrapbooks and much more–all directly related to our native history of central Maine, the Kennebec Historical Society (in Augusta) is a wonderful resource for any family, but homeschoolers will especially benefit, I think. Their theme this month is the log drives of the Kennebec–a topic I’ve always found fascinating.
The Children’s Discovery Museum
Discovery museums are great fun for the whole family, and the Children’s Discovery Museum (also in Augusta) is affordably priced, too. They offer workshops, themed explorations, and friendly staff. Sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon.
Maine State Museum
This is another wonderful resource for Maine history. And fairly inexpensive, too. The Maine State Museum supports a number of permanent exhibits related to Maine life and history, as well as themed exhibits, and educational programs for schools and homeschoolers.
Perhaps your family likes bowling. Sparetime Recreation offers several locations in central Maine, and there are a number of other centers in the area that provide a family or group a great place to spend some time this winter.
Maine Audubon‘s nature centers offer a number of winter activities that may inspire your family to participate. Even during these long cold months these nature centers provide great programs to get families involved with nature.
And of coarse there are the traditional Maine adventures such as ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice skating, sledding, and skiing, to get you outdoors for the day. If any of my Maine-readers have any central-Maine activities or events to add, I’d love to hear them!
Garden shows are not far off now, and spring time will be here before we know it! Until then, this is a good time of year to focus on in-door projects, such as catching up on some reading. I like to spend this time at home organizing and getting my spring cleaning out of the way, since I know I will be more focused on planting once the snows have melted later on. I take time to sort through my seed-collection and make out my Johnny’s Seeds order, sharpen my garden tools, and I’m preparing more bee-supers for the arrival of two new colonies this spring (that will give me a total of three hives!). So if I can just keep myself and my family focused maybe I can stave off cabin-fever and the winter-blues, and in a couple of months I’ll be digging in the dirt under the warming sunshine of spring, happy as a lark. I can’t wait!
What does your family do to combat cabin-fever?