Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We made it!! We survived our first Maine Winter...

Little green leaves are starting to peek up from the soil. The grass is changing from a wintry brown to patchy shades of green. The trees are so close to having leaves again. I actually heard a songbird the other day and have never been so excited to see bugs in the yard. Hopefully we have had our last snow storm of the year.

Spring is finally arriving in Maine.  It is almost May. 

I knew that if I could make it through our first year in Maine, namely the winter, I would be fine up here in the "great white North".  I like knowing what to expect. I like to be prepared. I like to be warm.  That being said, my husband and I were relieved to be able to find a decent home and move in just before the snow started in late November. Little did we know that we wouldn't be seeing our grass again until early April.  Mother Nature has been having her laughs with us as we have had snow several more times this month, but thankfully the snow doesn't linger very long and leaves behind a few more patches of green grass as it melts.  

It is with extreme caution that I finally, in a very quiet voice, say, "Welcome Spring".  Many of our friends and family from the South have asked what it is like living here during the Winter and here are a few things that we have learned:
  • The electricity does not go out when it snows in Maine.  We never lost power this year. It was too cold for the snow to melt even a little and for ice to form, and therefore we had electricity.  We didn't need all of the emergency blankets, sterno, oil lamps, cook-stoves, and camping gear that was to help us make it through a bad storm.  
  • School DOES get canceled in a bad snow-storm in Maine. Don't let any Northerner fool you into thinking they are better about going to school when it snows.  School was even cancelled a few times because of anticipated storms that hadn't even begun yet.  Emalee will be going to school through the middle of June because of this...
  • Bad snow-storms never kept me from going to the grocery store. I never ran out of milk or bread. The roads in town were always in good enough shape to get around.
  • I enjoy using the snowblower. You can work up a sweat when the temps are below zero.  Not once did I ever get cold while shoveling or plowing our driveway and front steps.  I enjoyed doing this chore because it got me out of the house and is fabulous exercise. Towards the end of the snow season we were starting to get worried because we were running out of room to blow our snow. It was taller than me in some places and the blower only throws it out so far.  One thing we did learn... wet snow is the pits to plow. Give me powder any day of the week!  Daniel did do this chore a great deal more than I did, probably for the same reason I did... 
  • We don't need as much winter gear as we had purchased. My husband is a collector of boots and coats and he was awesome to equip us with warm clothing and more than adequate layers.  When we would send Emalee to school, she had so many layers on and all you could see was her pretty little face peeking out of her snow gear.  You can't let the freezing temps keep you from being outside, so you just bundle up and get out of the house. 
  • If you don't get out of the house a little during the Winter, you will go nuts.  Or you will begin to bake. I chose the latter as my hobby of choice.  Thanks to the KitchenAid stand mixer that my mother gave me for my birthday and the stacks of cookbooks I was finally able to unpack (after 2 years of moving them around), I became a woman on a mission.  I was determined to find the best cookie recipes and perfect my pound cake.  I experimented a lot and had some eager "testers" in Daniel and Emalee.  I discovered that I already had the perfect pound cake recipe in my family files (thank you, Mary Wright) and that if the cookies don't have chocolate chips in them I shouldn't even bother. I also experimented with meals that I had never attempted before and began to truly enjoy cooking. 
  • You MUST find a form of exercise to do during the Winter or you will go insane (and increase your waistline because of all of the baking)!  Fortunately, being the mother of 2 children and staying home with them, I have a built-in exercise routine. My son became quite mobile this winter and went from crawling, to cruising, to climbing and walking.  He is into everything. He is a large baby, too... and carrying him up and down the stairs isn't for the faint of heart.  He is squirmy.  He also is mesmerized by Wii Fit and loves to watch me do the silly exercises there... 
  • I am thankful for Amazon.  The shopping options in Houlton leave much to be desired and the prices are pretty ridiculous.  I like having diapers, coffee, and tea delivered by UPS (aka "Brown Santa") and the kids had a better Christmas because of those deliveries as well.  If only UPS could deliver green grass and blooming flowers... 
We made it through our first Maine Winter.  It wasn't so bad. We stayed warm and didn't strangle each other.  We came to appreciate the time we have together and love the simple life that we now have together.  As I sit in our new, warm home I look forward to the next 3 seasons in Maine.  Spring, Summer, and Fall here make up for the long, long Winter.  When our friends in Georgia are roasting and melting from the heat and humidity, the temps here will be near perfect and we will begin our new family hobby... camping!  

Friday, April 1, 2011

No More "Winter Farming" For Me!

In the years I've known my husband, I have learned a number of unique phrases and terms that he uses to describe various people, situations, and circumstances.  Some topics are suitable for this forum and some are best discussed in appropriate company, but if you know my husband, he has a way - all his own - of telling a story and making a point.

One particular phrase that I have gleaned from him is actually a term that he learned from his father and with my agricultural background I can truly relate to:  "Winter Farming".  In the definition given to me by Daniel, a "winter farmer" makes plans all winter long about what a fantastic garden he or she will have when the weather gets nice and then, when the time comes, does little or nothing to achieve their plans.

I have been guilty of "winter farming" from time to time in my life. Up until about 2 years ago as a "marketing professional" that was a part of the fabric of my job description.  Planning, dreaming, and - depending on funding  or timing or some other positive circumstance, doing.  There was often a lot of brainstorming ideas and most of the time the ideas either fizzled out, stayed on a "maybe one day" list, or puttered slowly to life.  Occasionally the right pieces would fall into place and quickly take off for great success.  What I did learn from the experiences in the workplace - is that I can be my biggest stumbling block or hindrance to taking the next step... hence, the "winter farmer".

This also applies to dieting and exercise, or the lack thereof.  If only I could get into shape just by watching the exercise video or thinking of the miles I would run if I could just get started - or paying for a gym membership that I never took full advantage of.  I always have great plans during the winter months of getting into shape during the winter and when the spring finally comes, emerging from my bulky sweaters and sweatpants a smaller, more fit version of me. This year is the first time that has ever happened for me and I attribute that to chasing my (almost) 30 pound toddler around the house and shouting, "No, Eston" as I pull him from whatever he has been climbing.  Trust me, there isn't a video for that kind of exercise, but it does work...(and is extremely rewarding!).

One of the main areas I have been guilty of "winter farming" is in the area of my home and finances.  I have made so many plans on how to get organized in the home and bought binders and designed spreadsheets and templates for everything from cleaning house to managing schedules and they are seldom implemented.  Up until this last year I was careless with my personal finances and not working as a team with my husband.  I was not controlling my home and money but letting circumstances and time control me.  I am finally working with my husband on this and as a team we are tackling this area and slowly beginning to see the first little buds of our "harvest".  It is so much easier to "farm" with someone that shares the same goals and dreams.

I know that when I started this post, I had a point to make.  Oh yeah... no more "winter farming" for me.  Both metaphorically and literally speaking, I am more than ready to dig in the soil, get my hands dirty, and watch the ground come to life. I plan on planting squash, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, daffodils, peonies, hope, love, happiness, joy, creativity... and anything else that may grow as a result.

Now, I just have to wait for the snow to melt...