JULIA BAYLY

An open letter to Mother Nature on the first day of spring

A blue jay perches in the snow as spring arrives on Thursday with a March snowstorm.
Julia Bayly
A blue jay perches in the snow as spring arrives on Thursday with a March snowstorm. Buy Photo
Posted March 20, 2014, at 2:18 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2014, at 4:59 p.m.

Dear Mother Nature,

I like a good joke or prank as much as the next person, but perhaps we can all agree you have pushed things a bit too far?

Given your experience and position, I find it difficult to believe you, of all people, are not aware Thursday was the first day of spring.

I mean, seriously, have you looked at your calendar lately? Don’t you think that, perhaps, we in Maine are due for just a bit of a break at this point?

No, apparently not, because instead of daffodils and robins, this first day of spring was ushered in with snow, wind and freezing temperatures here on Rusty Metal Farm.

And conditions were pretty much the same around the state.

Thousands of central Maine residents greeted the spring equinox dawn in the dark, compliments of the wet, heavy snow you sent in.

Around the state, school was canceled or started late, businesses were closed, and plow drivers attempted to keep up with the latest round of winter weather.

Yes, Mom Nature, winter weather. There was no need for that on Thursday.

Have we not suffered enough?

According to stats compiled by Crown Weather Services, this past week, the high temperatures of low to middle teens in this part of the state were the lowest observed this late in the season since March 1993.

Average March temperatures in northern Maine are low to mid-30s. Hardly shorts and sandals weather but somewhat balmy by comparison.

Here’s another fun fact, Mother Nature — the average temperature so far this month has been 11 degrees — more than 10 degrees below normal, making this the second coldest March on record so far.

Did you forget to turn northern Maine’s thermostat up?

And so far this winter, there have been a total of 51 nights with low temperatures below zero recorded in Caribou, compared to the average of 37 nights during a more typical winter.

But, you already know this winter has been anything but typical, right?

Please don’t get me wrong, I like winter, really, I do. So do a lot of my friends. We ski, we snowshoe, we mush dogs and participate in other activities designed to keep us fit and enjoying all that the great Maine outdoors has to offer.

It’s just this year, we’ve expanded our outdoor workouts to include marathon sessions of driveway scooping, roof shoveling and deck clearing.

Here on Rusty Metal Farm, I’ve already gone through two shovels and a tractor tire moving snow around.

Mechanized fun is not faring much better, thanks to an impressive snow pack out there.

How much snow, you ask?

Enough that in attempting to break open the Rusty Metal trails after last week’s storm, I needed a new word for “stuck” to describe the status of the snowmobile after going less than a half mile.

Around the region, people are talking about dwindling firewood supplies, increased heating oil costs, growing snowbanks and severe cases of cabin fever.

“It’s just been such a long winter,” a woman in line with me at the grocery said on Thursday. “It got so cold so early, and it just never let up.”

Now, we do realize Mother Nature, that things could be worse. Remember 2008? The record snowfall year?

That’s when you sent 184.5-inches of snow our way through March of that year. A record snowfall, I might add, followed by record rains and subsequent record flooding in Fort Kent in the St. John and Fish Rivers.

Current snowfall amounts on record at Caribou are around 125 inches so far this season and, Mother Nature, I think we’re good, despite the fact your March 20 snow event is likely to push that total above 130 inches.

We are all trying to remain optimistic here, cheering ourselves up with thoughts of spring skiing and extended opportunities for those skate skiing lessons I’ve thus far managed to avoid.

But it’s getting harder as seed catalogs arrive in the mail and our friends in less winter weather-impacted areas post photos of flowers in bloom and ice-free lakes on their social media sites.

In an attempt to cheer myself up, this week, I ordered three pounds of honey bees, albeit with explicit instructions to please not ship them until late May given the amount of snow surrounding their future hive home here on the farm.

So, Mother Nature, in closing, I would ask, if you could, how about giving us a break? You’ve had your fun with this first day of spring snowstorm, and we’ve all shared a good laugh.

P.S., You want to know what really has me worried? After this, what do you have up your sleeve for April Fools Day?

Julia Bayly of Fort Kent is an award-winning writer and photographer who writes part time for Bangor Daily News. Her column appears here every other Friday. She can be reached by email at jbayly@bangordailynews.com.

 

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