Ezy Reading: Looking Back On One Aussie's First Winter In Maine …

Evan Kanarakis

From the outset, let's be clear: we do actually have a season in Australia called 'winter', it's just an altogether different experience to what locals know and cringe about in New England. Back home in Sydney winter temperatures do drop and it tends to rain a great deal, but in most parts of the country what we refer to as 'snow' is the stuff that melts away within five minutes of settling on the ground.

It was with a slightly deluded sense of excitement, then, that I looked forward to spending my first true winter in Maine. Visions of a winter wonderland filled my mind — fresh blankets of powdery snow drifting off into a horizon of white-capped pine trees and mountains while the occasional moose ambled by. In short, I expected a Bob Ross painting. And, indeed, winter in Maine can be achingly beautiful. The first time I set my eyes upon a snow-covered Mount Katahdin it near took my breath away. But it's not all picture-postcard exhilaration each day as I soon discovered.

For starters, I had to overcome every local's ominous assurances to me that any given current winter was mild compared to years past when 'the snow piled up so high it near reached my roof!' I suppose to many Mainers, winters are somewhat akin to fishermen's tales of that one great catch. It's customary, in a sadistic sort of way, to boast about exactly how traumatic previous winters have been, and the sentiment is unconsciously mixed with the hope that maybe this year the season will once again be truly filled with some solid, character-building suffering. Thing is, even if my first Maine winter was arguably tepid as compared to the norm, it was still far, far colder than anything else I'd ever experienced. Just because a quarter of an inch of snow falling in Sydney might close down shops and schools for a week didn't mean it would happen here in Maine where people are actually forced to live and work in an extreme environment for months on end.

Digging, shovelling and scraping, defrosting of car windows and the need to get my vehicle warm well ahead of time -these were now all a part of my morning ritual. Heaven forbid I ever overslept or a city plough might trap my car behind a six-foot wall of snow. On those days it'd take me an extra hour of digging before I even got to the main adventure of dangerously navigating my car along Bangor's roads, skimming past frost heaves with white knuckles as snickering locals looked on in delight at an Aussie well out of his element.

Sensibly retreating indoors I soon pined for the days when my primary source of warmth might come again not from a radiator but from sunbeams, and I hunkered down through the dark, grey months to wait for spring's return. At night I fell asleep to the hum and grind of a metal army of snowploughs — sometimes waking up and wondering if the robots of Terminator fame were in fact now on the attack before I came to my senses. I buried myself deep under my comforter and soon enough drifted off to sleep, quietly cursing Bob Ross for failing to ever tell me the real truth about life in a Maine winter.

Now set to embark upon his fourth winter in Maine, Evan considers himself something of an old hand at this 'I may freeze to death out here stuff'. You can email Ezy Reading at feedback@thecud.com.au