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Communicating has become so sophisticated in recent years. Everyone now stays in touch by cell phone, facebook, tweets, twitters and e-mails - options that were unknown to most of us just a few years ago. These days - in place of letters - I get lots of electronic junk mail.
I bring this up because the other day I was surprised to get a fat envelope in the snail-mail, containing a letter of several pages. It was from a neighbor who - for some strange reason - insists on leaving Maine each November to spending his winters in Coral Gables.
I know, go figure!
While we're up here in Maine having all kinds of fun chopping wood, thawing pipes, calling the furnace repair guy, thawing more pipes, shoveling walks, spreading salt, replacing pipes that froze and falling on icy sidewalks - he's down there in Boca Rattan dealing with things like his golf game, his deep-sea fishing trips and those gin and tonics by the pool. Poor guy. That's no way for a Mainer to live? He claims he's having a great time but I know he's lying because after a four or five months down there, dealing with all that hot sun and those balmy breezes off the water he starts making plans to come back to Maine where he belongs.
In his letter he tried his best to make it sound like it was day-after-day of nothing but fun down there in Florida but I wasn't buying any of it. Toward the end of his letter he got around to asking if he'd missed anything while he was down there in Boca Rattan.
After thinking it over for a while I soon realized how many exciting things he had missed since he left last November so I sat down and started writing.
First I told him about the November cold snap that he just missed by cutting out so early. Knowing he'd be interested I went on for some length about some of the record low temperatures we've had ever since that November freeze.
I know we didn’t have a November freeze but I was trying to make him feel guilty.
I knew he'd feel sorry about missing that morning in January when it was 42 below zero at my kitchen window so I went into some detail there - telling about how bad the pickup sounded when it finally got going and how the pipes in the downstairs bathroom froze solid, something they'd never done before.
I know it never got that cold but I was on a roll.
What review of winter would be complete without mentioning how thick the ice got this winter on roads and walkways and at the lake up to camp and how I almost lost a few toes to frostbite on one of the colder ice fishing trips we took up to camp in February.
Now, the roads up that way are so bumpy you'd rattle the cavities right out of your teeth if you drove over them any distance.
There were the heating oil prices that almost sent us to the poorhouse and all the expensive repairs that are normal in Maine in winter. I knew he'd want to hear all about that business.
Saving the best for last I finally told him about the town meeting we just a few weeks ago at the high school and how the different factions in town almost came to blows over one article or another. I knew he'd feel awful about missing the homegrown excitement that only our town can produce.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
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