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Spotting Spring in Maine takes some practice

Spring in Maine is sneaky and sly.

Spring never saunters into Maine like I imagine it does in other places, adorning all the spare edges with fresh greenery and daffodils. No, we take a more original approach up here in the wild and woody north.

In Maine, Spring ignores whatever arbitrary date the calendar has set and bashes around March and April with its own unconventional, but unmistakable signs. While we moan and groan and wonder if Spring will ever come, she’s been there all along, pushing her way, slowly and steadily, in her own good time.

In Maine, we don’t like going with the flow. We do our own thing. And spring is no exception.

Signs of Spring in Maine

  1. Below zero weather has (mostly) disappeared from the forecast.
  2. That 20-point turn you needed to get out of your driveway a month ago? Good news! It’s melted into at least a 4-point turn.
  3. It snows and rains and then snows some more.

    One sure sign of spring: collecting sap for maple syrup. What you collect it in, a minor issue.
  4. Our own version of green and yellow sprouts, but in the grocery store: the ever-famous Houlton Farms Dairy lemonade.
  5. Everyone starts tracking in the mud with their snow.
  6. All that sticky, sweet stuff comes dripping from the trees.
  7. The frost heaves emerge from their winter hibernation and a simple trip to town becomes a high-flying good time.
  8. Everyone goes to the dairy bar, gets ice cream and sits in their car with the heater going full blast while they slurp down the best ice cream around.
  9. When the temperature hikes itself about 35  degrees, we all immediately start talking about how warm it is.
  10. When the temperature gets above 40 degrees, watch out. It doesn’t take long for everybody to start trading their Bean boots for flip flops.

Can you think of more signs of Spring in Maine?

My Maine love story

Like so many great love stories, ours started completely by chance.

I wasn’t even dressed to impress that day — a baggy sweatshirt and a puffy vest snatched from the clearance rack at Gap — but for that matter, neither was she. In fact, she didn’t seem to care at all how she looked and I secretly admired that.

We’ve known each other for nearly 10 years now and I still feel a flutter when the car rounds the corner of our little dirt road, the small mountain peeks over the house and then, just beyond, the lake greets us with a sparkly, “Hello.”

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.


The big search

Our story really started with a real estate sign, flopped over in the culvert.

Back then, my husband and I were kid-less and still carelessly wasting our free time. We spent hours that spring, bumping over back roads and gazing longingly at lake houses way beyond our price range.

We really wanted to live on a lake.

“Waterfront property is always a good investment,” quipped my financial advisor husband, ever practical and an expert at boiling decisions down to dollars and cents.


Finding some of our own magic

But, to me, a living on a lake was less about the bottom line and more about the magic — that special blend of my childhood memories, all polished to a shiny glow by time.img_2728

I never lived on a lake growing up, but I had a collection of grandparents with camps (another name for lake houses in Maine). Their camps, cedar shingle-covered cottages, held generations of splashy memories.

So, my husband and I, driven by dual purposes of nostalgia and good investment sense, followed that crumpled real estate sign with “Lakefront” stuck on top. No questions asked.

But it led to nothing.

Nothing but acres of gangly Alder trees, their roots snaking across the surface.

But that day, the sun happened to be shining and the smell of spring happened to be in the air. So, we ignored those bossy trees and were eventually greeted by granite boulders bigger than our tiny Civic. Together, we watched the sun shimmy across 80 acres of water.

At that moment, I knew. We were meant to be together.



Getting to know each other

First impressions were right: we do have plenty in common. We both live in an off-the-beaten-path sort of way. Neither of us is famous or even slightly glam. We’re not afraid of a little dirt, but that’s where our common ground ends.

Our little piece of Maine lakefront isn’t showy, but she can impress without trying.

White birches cram the shoreline for a closer look: only monstrous slabs of granite hold them back. Every summer, a family of loons swoon over the quiet water. And then, of course, there are the beavers and their McMansions on the swampy end, threatening explorers with mighty tail slaps. A chorus of peepers and bullfrogs swap gossip every night and fog spends summer mornings polishing her surface to a glossy sheen.

Like all great friends, she gives you space. Space for screen porches and kayak rides at sunset. Space for kids and sled rides and doggies who like to bark at the moon. Space for bird houses and swing sets and flower gardens. She gave me space dig up all those flower gardens and make different flower gardens.

Space to take one step forward and then the next.