Turkey Tracks and My Essays: Why I Love Winter In Maine

Turkey Tracks and My Essays:  February 5, 2015

Why I Love Winter in Maine


It snowed all night again and is still snowing now.

The paths dug through the snow from four storms in ten days are now running like mazes through what is, in places, shoulder high snow banks.  The untouched snow is well over knee deep up here on Howe Hill, and in places where it has drifted, much deeper.

I just came in from a trip to the garage and down the driveway to the mailbox.  This new snow comes to the tops of my black boots–or about 10 inches or so.  The end of the driveway was knee-deep with plowed snow.  I waded through it gingerly, feeling for a solid bottom as I went.  (Falling over into snow is no fun:  it is very difficult to get back up as there is no way to get traction to get up again.  You can’t just push down on the snow bank to push yourself up as your arms go in too.)  My mailbox door was open, and it was, again, filled with mail and snow–which is why I knew I needed to get down there.  I cleaned it out and banged it shut again.  The mailbox is almost covered by the plow’s snowbanks–only the top sticks out now.  I put a reflective marker in front of it to alert the plow guys, and retraced my steps up the hill.  Last winter that mailbox got hit and was in pieces in the road.

My writers’ meeting cancelled for this afternoon.  It’s a moot point for me as there is no way I’m going anywhere with four feet of snow at the end of the driveway.  And, truth to tell, I’m enjoying this quiet, sweet day of falling snow and cancelled events.  After lunch (I made lamb liver pate, which I’ll have with toast, cherry tomatoes, and dilled lacto-fermented pickles), I’ll sew and listen to the P. D James mystery I’ve almost finished.

In the garage, I filled two buckets:  one with chicken feed (they eat so much in the cold, and temps will drop again to single digits and below tonight) and one with bounty from my freezers.  The food I put up all summer is being eaten now–orange pumpkin roasted and  frozen, red tomatoes frozen whole, greens of all kinds (beans, kale, parsley, zucchini)–all laced with grass fed beef and lamb and truly free-range chickens.  The garage refrigerator freezer is packed with fruit from my garden (strawberries and raspberries) and from Hope’s Edge CSA (which finds organic blueberries for members).  And every day now, I am getting three to five fresh, soy-free eggs.  I have all sorts of lacto-fermented foods that glow red, orange, and green in my kitchen refrigerator and provide crunch and a sense of freshness.  And I get fresh Milk House raw milk and yogurt from friend Rose each Wednesday.  I am so blessed, and it’s so great to enjoy the fruits of one’s summer labor.

So, when people from away ask me why I stay in Maine in the winter, or why I  keep chickens that have to be cared for–whatever the weather–first thing in the morning, sometimes at midday, and at night when they roost and need to be locked into their safe little coop, I’m never quite sure where to start with explanations.

You know, sometimes it’s hard to deal with all the snow, the cold, and the chickens.  In the blizzard, it was hard to keep the back door and the path over the deck to the steps clear.  It has to be kept clear so I could get out that door to go to the chickens.  And, the chickens are especially hard to get to in the deep snow I have to negotiate before my terrific guys who shovel me out come.  The chicken coop has been “snowed in” several times now in the past ten days, and it has to be cleared.

But, I never feel more alive than when I successfully solve a winter problem–like getting the mail and protecting the mailbox (hopefully) and getting to the chickens.

These trips “wake me up” in so many beautiful ways.

They get my blood flowing strong and true.

They put me squarely into nature–which can bite (snow in my boots, bitter cold, blowing wind), but which can also provide such incredible beauty.

Look at what I saw coming in from locking up the chickens at dusk the other day.  The soft blue of dusk and the rising moon were so beautiful.



It’s hard to describe or even take a good picture of the sunsets–where, often, the real show is not in the west, but in the backlighting of the east:


Today, everything outside is coated with snow–so the trees and shrubs look like they have been coated with spun sugar:


The snow is so deep that the turkeys have to fly everywhere–which takes so much energy for them.

They came late morning looking for a handout of sunflower seeds.  One–at the top of this picture–got stuck in the snow, and I watched him struggle until he was able to get under the pine tree.


A bunch of the turkeys are sheltering under that big pine now as I write.  They must be so hungry today.

The little turkey hens fly up to the upper porch and look for billed-out sunflower seeds on the porch.  They fly to nearby trees when I come out.

I’ve never seen so much snow at once.  Not even in my years in Bellevue, Nebraska (outside Omaha).  I guess that in itself is kind of exciting.

It’s unclear to me what the weather will be like on Saturday.  The weather folks seem to be waiting to see what two large storms headed our way are going to do when they collide and merge.  It could mean more snow.  A lot of more snow.  But there is no use worrying until things are clearer.

Meanwhile, I had a lovely day yesterday:  Linda was here in the morning and visited as well as cleaned, lunch and a Zoot’s coffee with friend Giovanna, and a lovely meeting of the monthly knitting club at Eleanor’s.

I am happy to stay mostly inside today.

I have to go feed the chickens now…