In Maine, Winter Is Never Far

As we wend our way through fall, Clif and I have been getting ready for winter. On Monday, we got our first pallet of wood blocks for our furnace.

Time was when we ordered five or six cords of wood, stacked it outside in rows so that it would dry, and then hauled it down cellar. This provided lots of warmth through exercise, but we are getting older and have decided to give ourselves a little break. We get these blocks from a local store, and they are made entirely from sawdust waste. One pallet is equal to about a cord of wood, and we can order the blocks as we need them.

Clif has rigged up a cart that, in about an hour and a half, allows him to haul the blocks and stack them down cellar. About the only bad thing about these bricks—which burn hot and dry, leaving little creosote behind—is that they are, alas, wrapped in plastic.

, of course,ย 

Here is a fun Maine saying for those of you who “are from away.”ย  When someone does something considered a little odd or off, we often say, “Well, that one is a few logs short of a cord.”

Which just goes to show that heating and cold weather are never far from our thoughts. When you live this far north, winter is always on the edge of your mind. Even during the balmy days of summer, we know that snow and icy winds are just around the corner.

The other night, as we were watching television, I heard the phantom sound of the town’s snowplow as it roared down the road. There were, of course, no lights flashing against the blinds in the living room as the plow went by. There was no plow.

But some sound jogged my memory, reminding me that winter is near.

 

 

70 thoughts on “In Maine, Winter Is Never Far”

  1. Some people here say “Two sandwiches short of a picnic”. I like “a few logs short of a chord” and I think it means the same thing.
    Here, too, the cold breath of winter blows from a shorter distance these days. I know I’m Canadian, but mostly, I still like winter from indoors, through huge windows looking onto fresh-fallen snow on tree branches and the ground below.
    I like the benefits of the pallets – yes, they’re wrapped in plastic, but think how much creosote you’re not creating.
    Bug hugs to you and Clif both – for all the winter warmth that provides!

  2. You are so right about keeping winter in our thoughts, a fact that I acknowledge esp. on those heat wave days of summer. Balance and perspective, as well as appreciation!

  3. I love local expressions — or at least I did. People on Vancouver Island have often bragged saying “you don’t have to shovel rain.” But those words have now come to haunt us with BC’s current extreme weather flooding thoughout the province. The recent climate change occurences are truly frightening. At this point, plain old cold weather and snow sound wonderful!

  4. This reader appreciates not hauling and stacking wood because I stopped hauling bags of wood pellets and then lifting them to pour. You would find two electric fireplaces here now, and we received a propane delivery yesterday that showed around a 20% increase over the last one. I do not ‘want’ to pay extra, but I do like heat and not having to haul it. Age brings some concessions. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I have one of those metal dollies that can roll the bags to the pellet stove and then have a can or cup to scoop the pellets into it if I don’t feel up to hauling the 40 lb. bags–whatever makes life easier and safer!

      1. I agree completely. It is also a way for me to use the nonrecyclable big plastic containers that I sometimes get stuck with–they can last forever and are not heavy, and can make great free scoops in various sizes.

    2. So true that age brings some concessions. The time will come when Clif can no longer bring the blocks down cellar, even with the help of a carrier. But until then…

      And I bet those electric fireplaces are cozy and warm.

  5. Oh Laurie, as beautiful as snow scenes look from my distance, I am not made for short days and long nights, such extremely cold weather and all. My granddaughter tells me Norway is cold, dark and raining … even during the winter we can enjoy blue skies and bright sunshine. I wish you and Clif well as you burrow indoors against the cold and hope to bring your some warmth from my pictures of summer ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks, Anne! As both Clif and I were born in Maine and have lived here for most of our lives, winter seems normal to us. Of course, there are lot of Mainers who share your point of view and head south for the winter.

  6. It is always good to be prepared for the bad weather, You must get through a lot of wood to keep yourselves warm in such a cold climate and if blocks are easier to handle and store then they are a good choice. It is a shame about the plastic wrapping but there is probably a good reason for it.

    1. In Maine, especially when you live in the country, it is essential to be prepared for bad weather. I expect that sawdust blocks would not keep well if not wrapped in plastic. So it’s probably necessary but too bad at the same time.

      1. The guys are supposed to come Saturday, and so I am hopeful. *fingers crossed* We were disapppointed to have bought a brand-new/’owned by the company owner’s father briefly’ pellet insert a couple of years back that cost a mint but did the job well until this season, and this year the auger doesn’t turn, probably due to humidity in the summer–not that you asked! Sorry for pellet stove TMI there. I love that it can be handled easily when it is functioning, and on a humane level, it is much better for me not to have to pick off every ant and bug and bit of interesting live moss and lichen on a log before putting it in the stove to save their lives! Life can be hard enough without extra life and death on a tiny scale thrown in–

  7. How good it is to be prepared for bad weather! Our house is heated by propane gas, the price of which has always been very high but has gone up exponentially in recent weeks. Fortunately, we signed a deal with our provider last year which has kept our price down. I like the idea of blocks made from sawdust.

  8. I love that word “wend” and the image that it conjures as I picture you both enjoying the last of autumn.

    Your preparations for winter as so fascinating to me – I would certainly be ill-prepared for a “real” winter; my only experiences with colder weather involve central heating or a space heater.

    Your snowplow anecdote sent chills …

    1. Wonderful to read blogs about other places, isn’t it? Where we live might seem mundane to us, but for others who are far away, the glimpses provided by bloggers are fascinating. Exactly how I feel about your posts.

  9. You really made me think about the seasons with the idea that winter is never far away for you in Maine. I guess for us, living in areas of Australia surrounded by bush, summer is sometimes okay, but sometimes brings bush fires, so the worst sounds we can hear in summer are fire engines. Mild weather is my favourite!

    1. I can certainly see why mild weather is your favorite! Because our winters last so long—sometimes from November straight through to April—it is a dominant season.

  10. “The phantom snow-plow” (or “plough”, as we would put it here in the UK ๐Ÿ™‚) would make a great ghost story! Incidentally, we are further north than you but our winter weather will not be nearly as harsh thanks to the Gulf Stream (North Atlantic Drift) ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ™‚. I hope your winter this year will be a mild one.

  11. I suppose plastic’s iffy, but on the other hand, given what humidity and/or moisture can do to cereal and etc., I suspect they could make short work of those sawdust bricks. I’ve never heard of them — clever, really.

    One of my blog readers used to run a snowplow business with her husband, in Michigan. A ghostly snowplow is one thing, but can you imagine being out at 3 a.m. actually doing the plowing?

    1. Absolutely! I expect it’s essential for those blocks to be wrapped in plastic. But, still. Sigh.

      In my books, those who drive snowplows are heroes of winter. Just might even write a post about this and the comfort of hearing the snowplow come by during a storm.

  12. You know, the snowplow driver could be turned mythic–in fact, when you said you imagined the sound, that’s what I thought. There’s a story there. I noticed the plastic on the bricks and thought that would make them easier to store outside if you had to. I used to hate winter and now I feel as though it gives me time to rest, snug in, and reflect. I’m glad you’re getting ready for the coming cold–I think at the end of this week!!!

  13. I find this fascinating, Laurie. We typically get four real seasons here, but I could do with a bit less winter. If truth be told, I’d be happy with a white Christmas, but then it can go away and let Spring take its place!

  14. Go, you, hauling that wood! My heroes! I grew up in the western part of Massachusetts where my dad cut and hauled all the wood for our stove. (We had a few acres of land.) Then I lived for many years in Central Mass in a 1791 house with a wood stove. You know, I loved it, but, whoa, I don’t think I could have the energy to do it anymore. I’m sure my dad is rolling in his grave every time I click on the fake-o gas fireplace!
    Cheers,
    Julie

  15. What a beautiful post, especially the last paragraph. You evoked the mystery and the feeling so well, in just a few words. And that’s interesting to hear about the sawdust blocks. Good for you!

  16. I miss having a real winter. The snowbelt of NE Ohio provided plenty of winter for me (used to be over 100 inches of snow each year, but I don’t think that happens there anymore). I did not know about the wood blocks of “logs” made from sawdust. I might have to look into them. Thank you! It’s too bad they are wrapped in plastic. We use our woodstove throughout the winter when it gets cold enough here and I’m always amazed at how much it heats up the house.

  17. Those logs are a great compromise, Laurie. We’ve heated with wood for years and (because of our age) decided to switch one of our woodstoves to gas this year. Oh, do I ever miss that warm wood heat. But you are so right that handling 6 cords of wood is a ton of work. Have a cozy start to winter. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Those sentences about the snow plough should be in one of your novels, Laurie! So prosaic! Winter is more of your life than summer, and of course for me it is the reverse.
    As someone who used to own a wood burning heater, I wondered whether those blocks would produce the same amount of heat as a log burning?
    And like your saying, there is an Aussie version, It is one sandwich/sao short of a picnic – (a sao is a cracker like cookie)

  19. Unfortunate about the plastic, but the compressed sawdust seems like a great option!

    The expression โ€œWell, that one is a few logs short of a cord.โ€ is a good one. One I will share, and I can’t remember exactly where I heard it, is “two peas short of a casserole”. ๐Ÿ™‚

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