As a fellow Maine transplant, I love reading about Jennifer’s adventures as a mom, writer and southerner living in Maine. Her recent $10 kitchen remodel post was just the kick I needed to look around for things to easily improve in our home. And I loved her open letter to the other parents at her daughter’s ball game. She is a fellow Listen To Your Mother cast member and I can’t wait to meet her in person! — Natalie
“You’re not from Maine, are you?”
I am asked that question on a daily basis: at work, the grocery store, post office, or anywhere else that I have a chance to talk to someone.
My Southern accent is a dead giveaway. It is quite easy to tell that I am “from away”.
Winter brings an entirely new angle to this all-to-frequent conversation.
“Is this your first winter?”
“Why in the world did you move here?”
“What do you think of all this snow?”
To clarify, this is my fifth Maine winter. I would hardly call myself “seasoned.” I don’t think I will ever adjust to the harsh temperatures and snow that lingers until mid-spring and I will forever long for daffodils that bloom in February instead of May.
But this Georgia peach isn’t all that different from the seasoned Mainers I have met in my time here.
I can tell when the temperatures dip below zero simply by the way the air burns as I inhale the arctic air. I can also smell the air and tell when it is about to start snowing.
I know to back my car into the driveway and flip my windshield wipers up in preparation for a pending storm.
I own a snow rake and know when and how to use it (or better yet – help my husband with the ladder).
I know the weather is going to be bad when the national weather forecast shows anything north of Boston. I get giddy when they show anything north of Bangor.
I don’t get worried about a snowstorm unless we are expected to have more than 12 inches at this point in the year.
When the temps get above 20 degrees, I know to get outside and enjoy it. Without a coat.
I’ve learned a lot in my short stint in Maine. I’ve also been here long enough to giggle a bit when I see my friends in the south scrambling and fretting over the 2 to 6 inches of snow that they receive each year. On the flip side, I also have to remind them that while they are prepping their gardens for planting in March, we still have to put up with snow for a few more weeks and that our children will be hunting for Easter eggs in the snow drifts still in the yard.
I’ve found that February and March are two of the toughest months in winter. The beautiful white snow has lost its luster and is now black and dirty and now that we have a dog it is even less appealing.
So how does a Southerner deal with a Maine winter?
I daydream about the amazing spring, summer and autumn that lie ahead! My husband and I begin to map out our road trips and sites that we want to see while the weather is nice.
When we moved to Maine, we decided to live as though our time in Maine was an adventure. Yes, we live here, but we still spend our free time very much like tourists. We set out to see the sights, eat new things, and learn the history around us.
One of our favorite pastimes during warm months is camping with our two young children. We choose to camp in a tent.
Call me crazy, but there is something fun to me in “roughing it”. Our children learn lessons in being responsible, slowing down, exploring, and cooperation. We have so much fun.
One of the perks of tent camping in Maine that only a southerner can really appreciate is that you don’t have to deal with venomous snakes like you do in the South. Trust me, it is nice to be able to send the kids out on a mission to gather firewood or go exploring in the woods and not have to worry about copperheads or rattlesnakes lurking around.
One of the best ways for me to battle the winter blues is to map out our camping trips during this horrible part of the winter. It gives our family something to look forward to and gives us a head start on our planning. We’ve found a few favorite camping spots and this year we hope to discover a few more.
Are you looking for a new Maine adventure? You don’t have to be “from away” to discover the beauty in your own backyard. Here are a few of our favorite places:
In the North Maine Woods we discovered Jo Mary Campground. From our favorite campsite we had a stunning view of Mt. Katahdin and our own rocky beach. The kids could swim in the shallow (and warm) lake and we could paddle around in our kayak. This is one of our favorite spots and we hope to return there this summer.
As most tourists do, we love to visit Bar Harbor and spots along the Maine coast. We love Hadley’s Point campground and actually stayed in one of their cabins when we visited there. We plan to return with our tent and take advantage of the shuttle to Acadia National Park and downtown Bar Harbor.
Closer to home we have discovered Greenland Cove Campground, a quiet, lakeside campground in Danforth, Maine. Its close proximity to us makes it a great weekend getaway and the kids love kayaking around the lake.
Jennifer Collins is a professional juggler of kids, work, marriage and life. She is living an adventurous life as a Georgia transplant learning to thrive in Maine, with a strong Southern accent that screams that she is “from away” and a new-found love for lobster rolls and timely snow plows. Jennifer is also a blogger for the Bangor Daily News at Graceful Mess. Her writing has been featured on BlogHer, iVillage Australia, Daddy Doin’ Work, and Mamapedia and she is a cast member of the upcoming Listen to Your Mother Show in Bangor.