It was raining snow. Or snowing rain, I’m not really sure, but I was soaked to the bone and fuming. The drenching we got Monday was the sloppiest slop that ever slopped, to the point where I considered wearing flippers to shovel the yard instead of boots. 

Mark LaFlamme

Out of habit, I had put on nine layers of clothing to take on the job, but wouldn’t you know it? The temperature shot up to 40 degrees and the snow-like substance turned into a rain-like substance, soaking every inch of those nine layers and making a soul feel as heavy as a tomb door. 

I broke two shovels trying to lift that unholy goop and my feet turned to shriveled pink meat inside my soggy boots. 

I wasn’t alone, either. Up and down the street, I could hear tired moans and frantic gasps for breath as perfectly healthy youngsters turned into bent old men trying to grapple with the weight of that snow. 

When my second shovel snapped, I just stood there staring at it. Glowering, really. That broken and useless shard had became an avatar of all the things I hate about winter in Maine. 

“Why?” I asked the feckless remnants. “Why do I stay here? Why in the name of all things holy does ANYONE stay here knowing what the winters are like?”  


Later, after I’d shed 300 pounds simply by taking off my sopping clothes, I hit up some of my peeps with the same question. 

“Why?” I implored them. “Why do we stay here? Why have we not moved to Florida, each and every one of us?” 

I had hoped for simple commiseration, but noooo. My peeps utterly betrayed me by going the other way. 

“People are nicer in Maine,” said one lady. 

“I can move snow,” said another, “but I can’t control tornadoes and hurricanes.” 

“We have good lobster, good whoopie pies and Italian sandwiches,” offered yet another woman, who hadn’t even bothered to ask why I was standing naked and dripping in her driveway. 


One fellow simply posted a photo of Kayem hot dogs, because apparently you can’t get a snappy red hot dog in Florida. 

“I don’t like the bugs,” declared a local woman. 

“No alligators or #@!#@ frogs in trees up here,” said another. 

“I would miss the seasons,” chimed in another traitorous shrew. “And I’m not into reptiles.” 

After a third and fourth mention of the amphibians that apparently run reckless and wild in Florida, I had to protest. Reptiles schmeptiles, I say. Wouldn’t the ability to sit on a beach in the middle of January somewhat mitigate the inconvenience of the occasional crocodile in your swimming pool?  

If I could ride my motorcycle 12 months a year, wouldn’t I happily abide all things that slither, creep and crawl? 


But these people, hardened Mainers with terminally red noses and feet they can’t even feel seven months of the year, were adamant. It was just a big fat no to Florida out there. 

“Not tempted to move to a place where one good tsunami would wipe out the whole state!” announced a local college administrator. 

To my chagrin, more votes were cast for all the great seafood and whoopie pies that can be had here in Maine. A few muttered words about the quality of life up here and left it at that. 

The people who favor Maine really, REALLY want nothing to do with the Sunshine State — according to this impromptu poll of mine, insects alone must keep a few million people out of Florida. 

“At least I don’t have to kick my slippers in the morning,” said a Lewiston woman, “to see if there is a brown recluse spider in them!” 

At this point, I was ready to give up and sulk because no one was giving me the answers I wanted. And the passionate declarations of love for Maine just kept coming and coming. 


“We are the best state!” trumpeted a woman I’ll call Barbara because that’s her name. “I mean we have it all — mountains, the coast and country farmland. The cold just makes us tougher!” 

For some, Florida is just too overcrowded to hold any appeal. For others, it’s the humidity. One guy prepared a list of 10 reasons why he prefers Maine over Florida; a list that included everything from a dread of poisonous snakes to warm feelings for the Down East sense of humor. 

Oh, there were a few people like me. They have lurid dreams of palm trees and 70-degree winter days. Like me, they can cuss for 15 minutes straight about Maine weather at any given time and never repeat a single swear word. 

“Mark my words,” people like us will say, holding our splintered shovels up like bitter trophies. “This is my last winter in Maine! This time next year, I’ll be on the beach in St. Pete!” 

Lip service, nothing more. This time next year, we’ll be out in our yards, frantically trying to shovel oozing snow out of the driveway before it all freezes over during the coming ARCTIC BLAST. 

We’ll be right here trying to clear inch-thick ice from our windshields with kitchen spatulas because the %$#%! ice scraper has gone missing again. 

We’ll be here trying desperately to avoid running our roof rakes into the power lines while pulling mountains of snow down upon our heads. 

That’ll be us, standing in our doorways, weeping as we watch the oil man driving away with all our hard-earned moolah. 

But at least we won’t be eaten by alligators while we do it.

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