A Clear View – Snow


5-2-1-0: get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, no more than two hours of recreational screen time a day, at least one hour of physical activity a day and zero sugary drinks.

Snow! Or is it, snow?

We spent several vacations exploring the inspiring beauty of Maine in summer before we relocated here. Back then we always left the state with a heavy heart because we loved it here. As we were planning our move from the Philadelphia area to Norway in 2003 and 2004 it was with mixed emotions. Unfortunately, it meant that I was leaving the career that I trained for and was good at. But rather than the career change, the thing I was most worried about, not being a skier, was winter in Maine. Winter in Philly had mostly been black slush and rain. I envisioned winter in Maine as a dark arctic icebox.

We moved in early summer 2004. My career path took an unpredictable turn. I joined a construction crew building houses. I got to work outside through the summer and fall, then winter hit and the work didn’t stop. I didn’t have time to think about it, I just kept working with a couple of extra layers and I hardly noticed the cold. It was that first winter that I learned the secret to winter in Maine and more broadly the true value of living in Maine.

Maine transforms when that first snowfall hits and stays. It becomes a different place and displays a different inspiring beauty. The secret to surviving Maine winters is getting outdoors and experiencing that beauty. The value of living in Maine is that there are so many ways to do that, especially here in western Maine. Yes, there is some excellent downhill skiing, so I’m told, and plenty of snowmobile trails and for many that’s all they need to enjoy winter in Maine. But for those of us who were not raised flying down mountain slopes or who prefer non-motorized recreation there are still many opportunities for experiencing the beauty of Maine winters.

First, all those trails you were hopefully walking or running during the summer and fall are still there and still accessible, either with boots or snowshoes, and display a different kind of stunning beauty. If you are still unfamiliar with the many trails that are available you can start at mainetrailfinder.com. There are quite a few venues in western Maine for Nordic skiing. A real gem in our community is the Roberts Farm Preserve of the Western Foothills Land Trust with groomed Nordic trails as well as a snowshoe trail. If you are unfamiliar with either snowshoeing or Nordic skiing visit the warming hut on the weekends at Roberts Farm and they will fit you with equipment to use for free. The warming hut opens for the season on Christmas Eve. They also provide classes for beginners and events for both beginners and experts. Looking to buy equipment? Check out Carters XC Ski Center in Oxford or True North Adventure in Bethel. And don’t forget some of the traditional outdoor winter activities, like ice fishing. The Bryant Pond 4H Camp and Learning Center offers a unique program for women called, Becoming an Outdoors Woman. In February that program is offering a Winter Skills Weekend for women to learn some of the traditional outdoor activities like ice fishing. Looking for more options? Look out for the next Great Maine Outdoor Weekend, February 3rd through 5th at greatmaineoutdooweekend.org.

Any way you like to do it, get outdoors and enjoy our Maine winter! One piece of advice, keep a headlamp with you, the beautiful night sky does arrive early, also seeking your winter attention.

Carl Costanzi, Ph.D. is the 5210 Let’s Go! Program Coordinator for Western Maine Health. You can connect with him at the Healthy Oxford Hills building, at 890-6102 or at costanzica@wmhcc.org.

Reprinted with permission from the Advertiser Democrat