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The flow of e-mails over the transom here at Storyteller Central has slowed a bit now that our summer visitors‚ (sometimes known affectionately in town as “summer complaints) have packed up and gone home. But people from away are still sending e-mails to me, hoping get answers to one question or another.
For example Peter from Virginia e-mailed: “John, We’ve been staying a few weeks in a nice cottage on the grounds of a resort on the coast. While here we first want you to know how much we enjoyed reading your column in the weekly newspaper. After reading a few of your pieces we thought you’d probably be able to answer a question for us.
Several tourist brochures we’ve seen boast that Maine is a four-season resort‚ yet people we’ve met and talked to, people who live here year-round chuckle, at the idea. Who’s right? Is Maine a four-season resort or isn’t it?”
Thanks for the e-mail Peter. I think I’ve seen some of those brochures that boast of our mythical four seasons‚ but after living year-round in Maine for as long as I have I only wonder where these people learned to count.
Here in the USA we have freedom of speech and that freedom even extends to our tourist promotion people. You can say - for tourist promotion purposes - that Maine has four seasons. But in fairness you should quickly mention that it is possible to get snowed on in at least three maybe even four of thoe seasons. Then, of course, there’s “mud season,” for which no use has yet to be found.
I can hear some of you now: “John, are you serious? Snow in four out of four seasons?”
Listen, here in Maine many of us haven’t trusted the weather ever since the infamous winter of 1816, a year still known in these parts as “The year without a summer.”
“Are you serious, John, 1816? It’s time to give it a rest - 1816 was over 185 years ago!” I hear some of you saying.
Yes it was a while ago, but some of us still enjoy talking about it
Here in Maine we learn in history about the year 1816 and how here in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada there was a killing frost and bad snow storms in all twelve months.
Trying to explain the abnormal weather some quacks‚ of the time - yes, they had quacks back then, too - tried to blame the cold weather on poor Ben Franklin and his slick new invention, the lightening rod, that was being installed on top of barns and houses all over the place.
As these quacks saw it, lightening was made up of intense heat, Ben’s new invention was interfering with the life of lightening, therefore Ben and Ben alone was most likely responsible for all the heat being lost.
Later, when we learned a little more about this crazy planet, it was thought that the cold weather - more than likely - was caused by a number of large volcanic eruptions that occurred on the other side of the world in 1814-1815 in places like the Philippines and Indonesia.
I know it’s a long-winded answer to a simple question, Peter, but sometimes there’s no way around it.
In a related e-mail, Will from Newport writes: “John, we’ve just retired to Maine and will be spending our first fall here. What do people around here do in the fall?”
Thanks for the e-mail, Will.
Most new arrivals like you spend a lot of time in early fall wondering things like: What ever happened to summer? Once you’ve more or less dealt with that question you can get down to doing what you probably should have been doing in the first place: Wondering if you’ve done everything necessary to get ready for winter, which is bearing down on our state like a runaway freight train.
Hope you have a nice fall and are all ready when the first snow arrives, which will most likely be sooner than we think.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
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