Running for the Sea
Winter’s lack of cordiality hasn’t exactly endeared itself to Mainers in 2011.
The season known for its frosty countenance has battered the coastal regions of Maine with heavy doses of cold and a barrage of snowstorms that buried the landscape under a deep snow-pack for nearly three months.
Jack Frost’s icy touch also capped the surfaces of many lakes, rivers and tidal tributaries with a customary layer of ice that was as thick as winter is long.
To make matters more chilling, Arctic air was routinely pushing down from Canada, barging through the region’s northern “doors” at will and disrupting the quality of life with its unruly stay for days on end.
Coping with such frigid elements often times can make it seem like things will never change, but alas, all seasons change.
During the stretch of time between March 4th and 7th, you might say that winter 2011 suffered its Waterloo moment and now finds its crystallized defenses on the run in a full retreat for the sea.
A low pressure system, whose loyalties were obviously to warmer climates, filled the coastal air with moderate temperatures that reached the upper 40s. Well, such “warmer” temps are relative, I guess, but this is Maine!
The storm’s power to combat the unrelenting grip of winter was not confined to moderate temperatures. It also wielded weapons of wind and rain that were deployed in an unapologetic manner against cold’s strongholds where snow and ice had long been entrenched.
The weather system dropped up to three inches of rain, which was aided in its ability to break down significant levels of snow-pack by gale-force winds.
The battering effect of warmer air, heavy rain and strong winds caused quite a little stir along some of Maine’s rivers and tributaries. The sudden melt broke loose and carried away layers of frozen brine on the water, while liquefying vast amounts of snow on land.
The combination greatly raised the runoff levels and caused burgeoning tributaries to rush angrily in a headlong fit to the sea. What the gray scene lacked in beauty and charm, it made up for with a demonstration of unrestrained raw power.
Having a chance to observe this climatic battle up close at different spots along the Maine coast, I felt a strange melancholy feeling overtake me.
I had enjoyed winter immensely over the past few months, but now the season was powerless to stand up against such a change in the elements. I was watching the handiwork of winter, nearly three months in the making, be washed away in just a few short days.
Yes, some snow will survive this first wave of the melting battle, and a stray snowstorm or two could still be in the offing as spring approaches, but something told me I was witnessing the end of the season as we had known it.
As I turned to walk away from the water at the last location I visited, my sense of smell was greeted by the sweet aroma of the ebb tide. Moments later, I was astounded to also catch the scent of wooded pine.
My conflicted feelings about winter’s abrupt demise suddenly melted away with the snow and were replaced by the natural fragrances of the coast, which had long been bottled up by a suffocating blanket of cold and snow.
The storm seemed to have set these aromas free for just a moment to waffle about the air in pockets of delight, which dazzled my senses and reminded me that each change of season has its charm.
Okay, think spring!