Late last Thursday morning I came to a stop at the Route 2 end of Andover Road. Did I or did I not see a sign pointing to the old zoo and reading “Christmas Trees?” I backed up. Yep, it was the McKennas’ seasonal sale sign, all right.

For months and months the snow put down in storms and piled up by plows blocked the view of eastbound traffic. You had to creep out, scaring the daylights out of anyone driving west, in order to assess the relative safety of a turn onto the highway. The Christmas tree sign had disappeared entirely.

A few hours of warm sun later, I made an easy turn onto Andover Road. There was the Christmas tree sign and another: A real estate for sale sign had materialized. We were definitely experiencing “the melt.”

Melt, the noun, has many meanings, several having to do with molten metal. The one relevant to us: The period during which ice and snow melt. This is followed by “… a hot, open-faced sandwich with melted cheese on top.”

For a little time, the concept of a meal called a melt eluded me. Where around here is there a melt on the menu?

Not on Sam’s. In reply to the question, do you have melts on your menu, the response was, No, I don’t.

Erin, at the Route 2 Diner in Rumford Center, was more forthcoming, but then she has a lot of melts: “I have all kinds: Hawaiian melt, ham and cheese, Reuben, steak and cheese.” But are they open-faced? “We don’t do open-faced.”

The Deluxe Diner’s Tammy said melts are not on the menu, but “we make tuna melts.” Dick’s Randy told me that the only melt at Dick’s is tuna and it isn’t open-faced, but he’d be glad to leave it open.

Couldn’t get through to the Brew Pub in Newry or Pat’s Pizza or the Exchange Street Grill or the Front Porch in Dixfield, for that matter.

Consequently, my conclusion that River Valley melts are not customarily open-faced is totally unscientific.

Meltdown – you might think that meltdown is another name for that period during which ice and snow melt. You’d be wrong. Like the noun melt, meltdown has numerous meanings, all of them frightening, unsettling, even sad. For example, overheated fuel rods in nuclear reactors cause the escape of radioactive materials – awful meltdown.

Or, complete collapse of an organization or institution – a meaning for our times – or, loss of composure, especially a very angry response. Well, that goes fine with the times, too.

You learn that your life savings have melted away because of a corporate meltdown and you experience a meltdown: Rage.

March madness. In sunny southern climes, there is likely no confusion about the term, March madness. Has to be college basketball. What else? But on the dark side of our little mountain where the plowed snow is still three or four feet deep and we are poised to listen for the sump pump’s comforting grumble, March madness is another kind meltdown, cabin fever – loss of coherence and awareness of reality.

Act now to forestall permanent meltdown damage. Order seeds. Review the summer wardrobe. Get out of town.

Or watch the college basketball tournaments and make believe that’s all March madness is.

Linda Farr Macgregor lives in Rumford. She is a freelance writer. Contact her: [email protected]

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