The polar express barreled down early this year, dropping the temperature at our house to 12 degrees. “It’s not going to get much colder than this, is it?” I asked my friend Barti, a life-long Mainer, as we walked along a wind blown river. “It’s November, my dear,” was all she had to say about that.
The next day, an email popped up in my inbox. Sugarloaf ski resort, it’s snowguns blasting away, would be opening the next day. The boys went so cuckoo when they heard about this icy silver lining,I decided to take them to the snow without Ethan, who had a bad cold.
The drive to Sugarloaf is only two hours. The little roads I traveled, trees on each side scratching at faded blue sky, provided the best chance I’ve had yet to see an elusive moose. I kept a sharp eye out because when it comes to moose vs. automobile, it’s a toss-up who wins. We passed a dead skunk, some possum road kill, and then a mess that might have been a porcupine before it got flattened by a logging truck. With the horses, flocks of sheep, and a lonely toilet sitting in a front yard of a neat mobile home, I couldn’t help but feel like I was driving through a Springsteen song. Around a bend, I came upon a gorgeous pink barn soaking up the last rays of sunlight. The time was 2:58pm.
Signs pointing to Skowhegan, Norridgewock, and Cornville reminded me how very far I was from Burbank, Hollywood, and Malibu. Instead of Range Rovers and Mercedes, we saw a Camaro or two and more than one Mercury Grand Marquis, plus lots and lots of trucks. I’ve decided that when The Oddy dies, I’m getting a truck too, a slightly beat-up Chevy Silverado 4 x 4 maybe, like my Dad drove. When I was 16, my first vehicle was a little blue Datsun 620 King Cab, so I’m going back to my roots.
Besides the fact that it gets dark now in the afternoon, other changes are going on too. The best I can do to explain it is that I feel happier. Not so pressed for time, or to keep up with The Joneses, or to fight the aging process. Women, old and young, actually allow their hair to go silver here and the wrinkles in their faces to tell a story. Even though I slather the Pond’s Cold Cream on day and night to keep my face from cracking in the frigid air, I worry less about my lines (I think).
The trip was great but the actual skiing at Sugarloaf was a bit of a bust. There was only an inch of snow–ok, an inch of ice–and what little they could make with their snowguns under the Super-Quad chair froze too as soon as it hit the ground. My California-born boys hit the slopes anyway but after a couple of runs, they trooped into the cafe where I was drinking a hot cup of coffee and listening to a couple of locals lament the fact that the weather was supposed to climb back into the 30s soon.
“My feet hurt, Mom,” said Griffin. “And it’s all ice.” Ado just sat there, rosy-cheeked, no complaints, but I could tell he too was underwhelmed. Or maybe his brain was frozen. West Coast and East Coast skiing are different breeds, and the learning curve for all of us may prove to be a little steep.
“You guys are wimps,” I said.
“You go out there then, Mom,” said Griffin. Um. Well. No thanks. I’m not that much of Mainer…yet.