The flow of e-mails continues unabated here at Storyteller Central.
Peter from Virginia writes: “John, we’ve been staying a few weeks in a nice cottage on the grounds of a resort on the coast. We first want you to know how much we enjoyed reading your column in the local paper. After reading a few of your pieces we thought you’d probably be able to answer a question for us.
Several tourist brochures we’ve seen boast that Maine is a ‘four-season’ resort, yet people we’ve talked to, people who live here year-round, chuckle at the idea. Who’s right? Is Maine a four-season resort or isn’t it?”
Pete, I think I’ve seen some of those brochures that boast of our mythical “four seasons,” but after living year-round in Maine for as long as I have I only wonder where these people learned to count.
I guess you can say – for tourist promotion purposes – that Maine has four seasons. But in fairness you should quickly mention that it is possible to get snowed on in at least three and maybe all four of those seasons. Yes, that’s correct: Snow in four out of four
Many of us haven’t trusted the weather ever since reading in our history books about the infamous winter of 1816, a year still known in Maine as “the year without a summer.”
And though it was a while ago, some of us still enjoy talking about it.
We learned in school about how in 1816 the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada suffered a killing frost and several snow storms in all 12 months.
Trying to explain the abnormal weather, some “quacks” of the time – yes, they had quacks back then, too – tried to blame the cold weather on poor Ben Franklin and his clever new invention, the lightning rod, which was being installed on top of barns and houses all over the place.
As these nuts saw it, lightning was made up of intense heat and Ben’s new invention was interfering with the life of lightning. Therefore, Ben and Ben alone was most likely responsible for all the heat being lost and cold being found.
Later, when we learned a little more about this crazy planet, it was thought that the cold weather more than likely was caused by a number of large volcanic eruptions that occurred on the other side of the world in 1814-1815 in places like the Philippines and Indonesia.
I know it’s a long-winded answer to a simple question, Peter, but sometimes there’s no way around it.
In a related e-mail, Will from Newport writes: “John, we’ve just retired to Maine and will be spending our first fall and winter here. What do people around here after summer ends?”
Will, most new arrivals like you spend a lot of time in early fall wondering things like: What ever happened to summer? Once you’ve dealt with that question, you can get down to doing what you probably should have been doing in the first place: Wondering if you’ve done everything necessary to get ready for winter, which is always bearing down on us like a runaway freight train.
Hope you have a nice summer and fall and are ready when the first snow arrives, which will be far sooner than you think.
John McDonald is the author of “A Moose and a Lobster Walk into a Bar,” “Down the road a piece” and “The Maine Dictionary.” Contact him at Mainestoryteller@yahoo.com.