April on a Small Maine Island

We’ve all heard of April in Paris, which if you have been to Paris, you know it’s not really the best time of year to be there. May is a much better month, but the word April simply scans better in a song.

April in Maine can be a challenging month, because after our long winters (and this year was a very loooong one!) we’re  all more than ready for a warm spring and the promise of summer.  But as I write this, snow from last night’s storm is still waiting to be shoveled and there’s more snow predicted for  tonight. It’s a little frustrating for those of us eager to sit on the dock, put a boat in, or at least be able to pack away the winter woolies. But warm weather will come as it always does, and we’ll appreciate it all the more.  And truth be told, when the summer people return to our small island, we are happy to claim bragging rights for having made it through another winter.

As I work on another book about Maine, this time about life on the island, I realize again what a unique place it is.  When an ice pond formed in front of my house for the first time ever and cut off access to my car, friends offered ice choppers and strong backs to help me break it up and our trusty plow guy-hand shoveled ice over the frozen walkway so I could navigate my way out.  I brought muffins to a sick neighbor, and when a friend skidded on black ice and landed in a ditch

April on a small Maine island. Winter doesn’t bow out gracefully!

, three cars stopped to help him within minutes. Challenging as the weather can be at times, it also can bring out the best in people.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’ll return soon. As the weather warms, we’ll talk more about the many great places to visit in Maine, as well as what life is like in a small island lobstering village.

February on a Small Maine Island

You may know one or more of the jokes about Maine weather, such as “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute,” or “We have just two seasons here: Winter and the Fourth of July.” Both sayings are proving true this winter, and over the last few days we have had snow, sleet, drenching rains, subzero temperatures, and a dusting of more snow to top it all off. The result  is a yard that looks and feels like a skating rink. In an emergency I guess we could pick our way out using crampons, ski poles, and wearing plenty of heavy clothes, but we’re taking the easy way out and staying home with a fire, a book, and a lap-warming cat. Fortunately we have a well-stocked freezer, and although cabin fever will set in before long, the temperatures are supposed to start rising tomorrow, the sun will come out, and we should be freed of our personal ice palace within a couple of days. It’s all part of life in Maine in the winter, and one of those weeks that make life in Maine in the summer all the sweeter.

Wherever you may be, I hope you are faring well through the winter season.  With February here, we know that March–and the first day of spring–

An island tree after a recent snowfall.
Photo copyright Nathaniel Hammond

can’t be too far behind.


New Year on a Cold Maine Island

Although Christmas was warm and rainy here on the island, the new year arrived with a blast of sub-zero weather. Today the ocean was layered with sea smoke, a fog that occurs when the air is colder than the water. It makes for quite a sight to see the huge cloud fog rolling across the water.
Fewer than 100 of us are here all winter, and while we may get together now and then for pot luck or an informal party, for most of us it’s a time to hibernate or to tackle a large project. Life slows down, which is probably a good thing since most of us live very busy lives the rest of the year. I spend the winter writing, and when I see a light at night in my nearest neighbor’s window, I know she is working on her art. A lot of creative people live out here, attracted by Maine’s beauty. Island life is not for everyone, however, and I have occasional visitors who can’t get back to the mainland and “civilization”

Sea smoke drifts around a small Maine island.  Photo (c) Karen Hammond
Sea smoke drifts around a small Maine island. Photo (c) Karen Hammond
fast enough.
If you love winter sports, don’t hesitate to come to Maine. It’s a great place for skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating, and just taking long walks bundled up in the crisp (ok, very cold) air. With the right clothes and the right attitude, you’ll have a great time.
Happy new year everyone. I wish you a happy, productive, and above all, a very healthy 2015.

First Snowfall on a Small Maine Island

Just 10 days into November and we’ve already had a substantial snowfall here on my small Maine island. It’s always a little dicey when snow arrives before we’re in a winter frame of mind, but being New Englanders, we always manage to cope.
Fewer than 100 of us remain on the island now, with summer residents having moved on to their winter quarters in warmer climates. We’re too far off the beaten path for all but the most intrepid late-fall tourist. And so the island folds back into itself. The little local church has a harvest fair coming up in a couple of weeks, the tiny year-round cafe bustles with locals drinking coffee in the morning, and our charming library is doing a booming business in mysteries as people stop in for books (the old-fashioned kind, with pages!). It’s definitely a time of transition as we move from the bright colors of early fall to the grays and browns of November. The first snow didn’t last long, but the next one is sure to linger

First Snowfall on a Small Maine Island Photo: (c) Karen Hammond
First Snowfall on a Small Maine Island
Photo: (c) Karen Hammond
, making the earth beautiful again. And, right around the corner, we have Thanksgiving and the winter holidays to look forward to. Wherever you are, stay warm and enjoy the season!

The Joy of Winter

I’m tired of complaining about winter weather: time to focus on all that’s good about a winter that is not yet half over but seems endless. Let’s see…..there’s plenty of time to tackle a major project since days go by when it’s difficult or impossible to get out of a long Maine driveway covered in ice. Life slows down to a manageable pace. I actually had a couple of phone conversations over the weekend instead of resorting to hasty emails. The house is looking spiffy thanks to a mid-winter clean-up. And, I must admit, it is fun to get out in the snow now and then even if doing so requires multiple layers of clothing and boots up to my knees.
Here on my small Maine island, village life revolves around the local post office (arrive just before noon if there’s someone you’ve been trying to catch up with) where posters announce everything that’s going on in town, as well as the two small cafes. We check those out often for coffee and news — OK good-natured gossip. It’s a quiet life to be sure, but come spring — and it is coming, right? — I’ll be pleased that I’ve managed to get a pile of work done and had a little break from life’s usual hectic pace. But I will admit that a little sunshine at this point, after umpty-up gray days, would not hurt at all. We’ll just call that last thought

Snow blankets a small island in Maine. Nathaniel Hammond photo
Snow blankets a small island in Maine.
Nathaniel Hammond photo
an “observation” instead of a complaint!