7 Ways surviving a Maine winter is like the winter Olympics

I have had a wretched winter so far with a relentless sinus infection that has fed me a steady diet of postnasal drip and a cough that won’t quit. One day after a particularly violent coughing spell I made the statement that I had exercised more muscles than an Olympic mogul skiing champion.

This set my mind in motion and I realized how many ways living through a Maine winter is similar to participating in athletic events like the winter Olympics.

Here is a sample of the Maine winter games.

Shoveling: The most challenging event in the shoveling competition occurs when you get home from work and there is no power, not a glimmer of moonlight, and a fresh eighteen inch blanket of heavy snow. This is when you rummage through your junk drawer until you find a headlamp. If you are lucky enough to have batteries you change them by candlelight, praying you placed the pluses and minuses in the right direction. You shovel for the next four hours, limited only by lower back pain and the fogging of your glasses.

Falling on the ice: Since humiliating falls on the ice never happen in isolation, why not have witnesses analyze your elements for an Olympic score? I once approached a patch of ice at a high rate of speed, did an open double axel followed by a flip, and scored an extra point for nailing the landing with a perfect face plant.

Ice scraping: When it is quitting time at my office you see lethargic workers spring into action as they approach their cars with ice scrapers and determination. The sound of scraper blades on windshields is deafening and everyone hopes to cross the finish line first. Consider yourself disqualified if you use a remote car starter to defrost, or you only scrape two spots corresponding to the size and location of your eyeballs.

Photo courtesy depositphotos: used with permission

Speed dressing: Awakening on below zero mornings, it is difficult to emerge from your toasty LL Bean comforter to plunk your feet on the surface of a glacier. When you have perfected the art of speed dressing, however, you can stay in bed until the last possible moment, dressing in record time with nary a goosebump.

Roof raking: Patrick and I have ‘his’ and ‘hers’ roof rakes and spend hours with these 12 foot spades pulling heavy snow from the roof back to the earth where it belongs. Between our wheezes, you hear repeated thuds and an occasional expletive, as we remove the snow one slice at a time. When we’ve completed our task, we return to the previously shoveled deck and front steps to remove the compacted snow, which is akin to shoveling cement. With our last ounce of strength, we give ourselves a high-five, then collapse secure in the knowledge that our roof will not.

Burning wood: This is a summer and winter competition as black fly season is prime time to cut, split and stack wood. Once cold months arrive you get to handle the wood several more times as you trudge to the woodpile, fill the wood box, carry to the stove, and shove it into the inferno. Periodically you clean out the ashes with live coals and carry them outside like an Olympic torch to your compost pile or that persistent patch of ice where you won a medal for falling (see above).

Juicing: With all these strenuous activities you know someone will try to get an edge by using enhancements. My drug of choice is a Vick’s nasal inhaler, which works almost as good as a nose strip to help me inhale frigid air without obstruction.

Of course, there are other winter games Mainers enjoy like ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, skating, and sliding.

I love to slide and as a kid, one of my favorite activities was to hurl myself down the steep bank behind Dad’s barn on my steel saucer sled. Maybe that’s why this is one of my favorite scenes from the movie Christmas Vacation.

What are your favorite winter games? I’m sure my list is only the tip of the iceberg.

Boomer on the Ledge doll available with book in my online store.


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59 thoughts on “7 Ways surviving a Maine winter is like the winter Olympics

  1. I love your poineering spirit but I suppose if snow like that is a regular occurrence you have to make the best of it…I think the picture is beautiful and for that I thank you as I love snowy pictures all viewed as I sit here in my sundress nice and warm although it has cooled down somewhat and is a lovely 26 degrees but it is nearly midnight here 🙂

    • Ahhh…sitting in a sundress sounds delightful, Carol. It is 40 degrees F here today and sunny and my husband and I will bundle up and sit on the patio to catch a few rays on our face. It is really pretty here today – a perfect winter day.

      • I love picures of perfect winters days..and they are so pretty but these old bones love a bit of warmth I have my fair share of cold winters days over the years and no more for me…Enjoy your weekend x

          • Many Mainers spend the winter in Florida and I’ve always said I didn’t want to do it. Until this year’s long stretch of below zero temps. I hurt all over and finally admitted that being in warmer temps would would be a relief. In the summer I don’t have an ache or a pain. I’ve got to consider avoiding some of this cold!

          • Yes, I think so…I used to get a really bad chest every November and had to use an inhaler since being here apart from the first Nov we arrived in July I haven’t even had a cold, ache or anything and that is in 7years… The climate really suits us both 🙂

    • We used a credit card once when we had ice early and forgot to put our scraper in the car, so I’m sure a library card would work well, too. Anything when desperate! It is lovely today and warm, so we are reveling in a perfect winter day.

  2. Love this! I live in an old Maine mill apartment building now, so I don’t have to shovel, my carpeted floors don’t get cold (I don’t pay for heat, either, so it’s usually toasty), and definitely no roof raking for me! I did slip on the ice out in the parking lot yesterday morning, one of those slow, stumbling slips, but I stayed upright – one of my proudest moments, to be honest. 😉

    However, in my childhood/parents’ home, which is an 1800s farmhouse, the upstairs isn’t well insulated (again, 1800s farmhouse), so the speed dressing was an everyday thing for my sister and I in the winter! 🙂 And I loved (still love) going to camp in the winter because of the wood stove (your burning wood paragraph is excellent), as well as the snowmobiling, tobogganing, and snowshoeing.

    • You don’t know how many times I’ve suggested to my husband that we sell our house and get an apartment! He isn’t ready for it yet, and I suppose I’m not either. But having someone else take care of the snow is a luxury I could get used to! You know what I’m talking about with speed dressing having lived in an old farmhouse. And while we don’t have a camp, I did used to enjoy the warmth of our wood stove when we had it. Now I point a remote control and a little gas stove produces warm, pretending to be a wood stove. I’ve gotten soft in my old age, Kelsey!

  3. One of my oldest bloggy friends lives in Maine and I see his daily updates on the shovelling that he has to do every day… Looks like a beautiful nightmare that I’d get bored of very quickly haha!

  4. A gold medal to you Molly! I would definitely pay to observe – if not participate in – these events…particularly the roof raking which sounds fascinating!

  5. *waves hello from Southern NH*

    Hmmm, maybe an addition of musical cars? Our current challenge involves three vehicles, one long step & narrow driveway, and differing schedules. 😛

    Hope you’re starting to feel better now!

  6. Getting ready for what tonight’s storm has to offer. Can you believe this is the first year, in 14 Maine winters, that I’ve put snow tires on my car? Clearly, I am from away! 🙂

    • I’m a lifelong Mainer and I have to admit this is my first year with snow tires, too, Austin. I had all wheel drive for many years and never felt the need but this year with my front wheel drive car my husband insisted I get a full set of primo snow tires. So far so good. Not looking forward to driving on this latest layer of ice.

  7. Haha – that does sound like a perfect 10 ice fall! When I was 18 and finishing school, I used to waitress part time and evenings in a place quite near my house. I would sometimes walk and sometimes drive my Mum’s car or be dropped off if she needed the car. That winter there were very bad snowfalls, and on one night my mum had insisted on dropping me at work and collecting due to all the snow and ice. However, my mum never liked driving in snow and ice. When she came to collect me, she decided that she thought the car park looked too icy, and parked right on the far side by the car park entrance, and refused to come near the door. She also parked right in the middle, nowhere near the grass that ran round the edges. No matter how much I frantically waved her closer from the door, she would not budge. So I had no way of getting to the car except across the huge icy car park. In unsuitable shoes. I literally fell over every two steps and it took about 20 minutes. The next day I went to work and was reminded that the car park had CCTV, which played onto a screen situated at the end of the bar. The two barmen and all the locals had enjoyed my ice skating performance. The best bit is, if my mum had just let me walk to and from work as I intended, I would have worn different shoes, and could have walked the grass edge of the car park, and grass verge all the way home, and avoided all the ice.

    • Hahahaha! I love this, Lucy. I think you should have scored a gold medal for your performance and I love that it was recorded and enjoyed by so many. I’m a little concerned about your mother, though. How long has she hated you?

  8. I am seriously impressed. Not only do you get loads of exercise but you are competitive about it too! If it wasn’t for the horses, I don’t think I would put a foot out the front door from January-March. No medals for me.

    • I am looking forward to my retirement when I can stay inside a warm home looking out at a blizzard without any compelling reason to venture outside, Margaretha. The only thing I won’t cancel under these conditions will be a hair appointment. I’ll gladly give up the competitive winter games!

  9. I love these event. If by love I mean loathe. I feel as though I have won the bronze medal. I slipped on ice but it was only witnessed by my family. The entire middle school recess contingent would have brought me to the top of the podium.

    • You know a little something about snow, Carol, with your upbringing. Glad you are coming to Maine this summer. There is nothing more beautiful than Maine in the summer! Or winter and fall. You notice I left out spring. That is my least favorite season since it involves mud and black flies.

  10. I live in England and my area haven’t had snow for a number of years (not since a splattering in 2012) but the winter games in this area has more to do with mud! As I do live in a dry area, in winter any rainfall turns the fields & seawall walks into mud runs! Mud is good for the skin so they say, so jumping the salt marshes and landing face first in smelly mud is a beauty bonus!

    • We can add this healthy activity to our spring games, Linda, when our snow produces a stellar crop of mud! Between mud baths and swatting black flies I believe we will have a whole new world of competitive games.

  11. This made me smile, Molly — thank you. It’s important to keep a sense of humor. After all, it is only February 3 with six weeks of winter ahead — YIKES!! That is, assuming spring REALLY springs March 20.

    • That is a big assumption I’m afraid, Sharon. I’m much happier now that I’ve accepted that April is a winter month in Maine. No more disappointment or frustration railing against the ravages of April snow storms and below zero temperatures. Just a calm acceptance that mud season is just a month away along with the return of the black flies. LOL.

  12. All I can say is that I’m glad I live in a condo now! I’m still in Maine, and it’s still winter, but Hubs and I don’t have to take part in any of those “events” any more. It’s more apres-ski, all the time–in front of a gas fireplace that goes on with the flick of a switch. Another great post, Molly!

  13. What do you think about this athletic addition–wriggling, wigglng, and writhing to squeeze myself into my daughter’s one-size-smaller-than-my-butt puffer coat to go out and shovel the sidewalk? Plus, sucking your stomach muscles in and holding for the duration. I was exhausted before my shovel hit the ground! (And, don’t forget cat sliding. ?) Great post as always, my friend!

    • I think those are Olympic quality activities, my friend who-is-getting-a-taste-of-a-New-England-winter. I did forget about cat sliding. Perhaps I’ll have to do a part two that will include the feline luge event. 🙂

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