Thursday, February 25, 2016

How to Survive Winter in Maine


"No internet takes you back to 1990; no heat takes you back to 1890," said my husband as he fired up the woodstove. Then he left for his warm office.

In desperation, I figured out how to use my cell phone as a hotspot from my laptop so that I could work by the other hotspot for my feet. With the boiler down, there wasn't hot water for a shower. I pulled on extra layers and sheepskin boots. It was below freezing outside and in the fifties inside. I did at least have stacked wood, electricity and a working phone to call the repair men.

It could be worse: Our first winter in Maine, we lost power for a week. When we had looked at houses to buy or to rent, most had woodstoves. A big city girl myself, I had wondered why. An open fireplace seemed more aesthetically pleasing and less dangerous around little kids. We had a baby and an inquisitive three-year-old, who took a warning as an invitation. Still, we held onto that woodstove, and it kept our house in the 60s and the pipes from freezing during the ice storm. We cooked on the stove top and boiled water to bathe. My husband became very good at splitting logs. Neighbors with heat opened their doors to those without. It showed us the strength of community in our small town in Maine.


This time our loss of heat and internet were due to faulty systems. With an updated router installed, my home office is back online, but I'll need to rewire the house for stronger wifi upstairs. The boiler has a temporary fix and new parts have been ordered. We have plenty of wood thanks to the forest that is our backyard, but we prefer kiln dried wood for the stove as it's less smoky. Most winters we lose power for several hours or a day. We are always prepared.

A friend in Germany, who saw my plight on Facebook, suggested Airbnb for my cozy house to fund the repairs. We were amused that my city friends wanted to join me by the fire. My neighbors invited me to their warm homes out of pity. A woodstove is more charming when it's a luxury, not a necessity. Nonetheless, friends are always welcome!

Remember this story when you dream of working from home in New England. Still, I wouldn't trade my lifestyle for another. I adore my woodstove and my generous neighbors. This is life in Maine, now and then.

9 comments:

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

This is funny! I spent the day managing our downed trees. I love getting back to a good book in hand, by a fire!

A Cuban In London said...

Good to see you back online. It's funny to imagine now a life without wifi or internet. :-)

Greetings from London.

Kelly H-Y said...

Loved this post and the pictures ... you and the pup look so very cozy ... and the bagels toasting on the fire cracked me up! :-)

Sarah Laurence said...

All, thanks! It's nice to be back.

troutbirder said...

Seeing you reading by the fire brought back memories of power down in Minnesota blizzards and the Ben Franklin that kept us warm in our old house.

thecuecard said...

My hub is jealous of your wood stove ... like the one his folks had on Howe Island he tells me. You have a good lifestyle there, despite the snowman suit.

Ien in the Kootenays said...

Ah, the harsh reality of the simple life! It looks like you are well set up. We used to enjoy power outages in our off grid years in the log cabin, now sadly falling into disrepair. It made us feel all smug and superior. We had a large barrel woodstove with a flat top that had been welded onto it by an old prospector named rattlesnake Bill, after his sideline of collecting rattlesnakes in the dry hills of the Boundary country. In winter a canner with melting snow was permanently on it. We are still on the same land, but moved to a mobile home without wood heat, but with all the modcons including wifi. Power outages are frequent in extreme weather. We have back up systems in place for cooking and light, a stash of water, and invitations from several friends and neighbours to come and get warm if we need to. So far, not yet. This winter is almost over.

Barrie said...

I love that photo of you and the dog by the fire! Does the wood stove heat up most of the house?

Bee said...

I didn't have heat for several days last week . . . but I don't think it was quite the same! The picture of you all bundled up is choice.