Ask a Mainer about the weather — any kind of weather — and you’ll likely get an earful. If it’s hot, it’s too hot for many. If it’s cool, it’ll be unseasonably cool. And if it’s cold … well … you can guess what we’ll have to say about that.
A friend’s father used to describe all Maine weather with a single adjective that isn’t appropriate for this paper … but may well have been appropriate for the conditions he was describing.
Yes, we Mainers love griping about the weather. The worse, the better.
We talk about it, and wallow joyously in our largely contrived despair, especially when it gets particularly nasty outside.
And when it isn’t particularly nasty outside, you still don’t have to look very hard to find someone … someone … well, someone like me.
I generally love Maine’s unpredictable weather … but I’m a Mainer. And as such, I’m perfectly willing to join the crowd and grouse a bit.
You can title today’s rant “Who Decides What Makes For Nice Weather in December?”
Here’s my issue: This is Maine. This is winter. And after shrugging off the same greeting for the third time Monday morning, I’d finally had enough, and stopped grumbling long enough to formulate a reasonable response.
No. The weather outside is not great. It is not nice. In fact (to steal a phrase from a holiday tune), you might even say it’s downright frightful.
I don’t really think of myself as a weather Grinch. Honestly, I don’t.
But when it’s Dec. 29 and our hard-earned snow (remember that blizzard we endured last week?) is melting all around us, and our lawns are turning to mud, it’s time for someone to say something.
Something like this: I love Maine winters. I want the lakes to freeze, and the mountains to glow under their pristine white coating, and the trees to hide under blankets of new-fallen snow.
I don’t want 45 degrees. I don’t want mud.
Except, that is, until it begins to inconvenience me.
Like on New Year’s Day, for instance, when some buddies and I are protesting the lack of local ice, and are going fishing anyway. We’re grabbing our fly rods and planning an excursion on the St. George River, which is open year-round.
Take that, Mother Nature.
Of course, by then it won’t be warm. It won’t be balmy. The prognosticators are calling for some snow between now and then … and a crisp 20-degree day for our fishing trip.
Which is, I suppose, just my luck.
Not that I wouldn’t have found something to gripe about (joyously, it should be noted), no matter what Mother Nature dishes out.
Did I mention that us Mainers like to gripe about the weather?
Thinking cool thoughts
Since we’re on the topic of ice, let’s start planning for the future.
Our recent warm weather has taken a toll on local lakes and ponds, but organizers of Derbyfest, a two-weekend, two-tournament event, are already making plans for the 2009 events.
Derby director Tom Noonan said the Sebago Lake derby will take place Feb. 21-22, and the statewide derby — with all legal waters in Maine open game for participants — will be held March 7-8.
The total prize pool for the derbies is $60,000, according to Noonan and, as usual, a new truck will be given away to one lucky angler.
Both are sponsored by the Sebago Lake Rotary Club and Chevrolet.
“The price has been the same for nine years in a row now,” Noonan said, explaining that a single ticket that provides inclusion in both derbies is $30, while a “kid pack” ticket is $50.
The kid pack allows two adults to fish with up to six children under age 18.
If an angler is only interested in participating in the statewide derby, he or she can purchase a $20 ticket, or a $30 kid pack.
Noonan said organizers have lined up 22 weigh stations throughout Maine for the statewide derby. Among the weigh stations that may be used by eastern and northern Maine anglers are stores in Eddington, Calais, Cross Lake, Greenville, Ellsworth, Houlton, Machias, Millinocket, Newport/Palmyra, Springfield and St. Francis.
The anglers who win prizes for hauling in big fish will have their work cut out for them: Noonan said between 2,000 and 3,000 tickets are generally sold for the two derbies, which equates to 4,000 to 6,000 anglers taking part.
Among the top fish caught in the 2008 statewide derby: Glen Raymond’s 23.34-pound muskie, Billy Grotton’s 22.09-pound pike, Thunder Flick’s 16.94-pound togue, and Billy Townsend’s 5.46-pound pickerel.
For those willing to travel to Sebago, the derby on that lake is always entertaining, with a variety of events planned.
For more information on the events, go to www.icefishingderby.com.