Merry Christmas - 2014

Dear friend

It’s snowing again. We’re in Maine now.  It does that a lot. 

There’s a family of moose outside the door, knocking to be let in. They look cold. There are 4 of them.  And they’re all bigger than I am. I’m pretty sure moose aren’t house broken. I’m not letting them in. 

We moved to Maine late this summer. We found this amazing farmhouse from the 1780’s. It’s huge. And rambling. And it has a thousand square foot greenhouse that can grow ripe tomatoes in October.  It has grapevines and apple trees. There is a 40’ tall chestnut tree and several black walnut trees that produce wheelbarrows full of black walnuts. I have never eaten a black walnut in my life, and the chestnuts turned out to be the poisonous kind. But I have always wanted a chestnut tree. So we moved. 

Winter here starts somewhere mid October.  We’ve had 4 snowfalls already, and the pond out back is frozen solid enough for the neighbor kids to walk across it. I told our children not to go near it. I grew up in Georgia, and I’m pretty sure that the ice has to be at least 4 feet thick to support the weight of an on-the-small-side second grader.  

We bought two wood stoves for the house, because it felt “in-keeping” with the home. And also because the previous owners had suggested they wanted to take their wood stoves with them.  You know why they wanted to take theirs? Because it gets pretty damn cold up here. In addition to the wood stoves, we also have an oil furnace, electric heat base boards, a kerosene heat system, and propane stoves. 

That’s right. Stoves. Because we have more than one.  We have bought a house that requires us to send money to every utility company in the state. Giuia complains that I haven’t quite figured out how to hook up the new wood stoves, and the entire house fills with smoke every time I light a fire. I tell her in Maine, we call that ‘homey’. 

Maine is a lot of things. Portland’s got a surprisingly amazing restaurant scene. It’s cool without being hipster. It’s rural urbane. People talk about “traffic” when three cars all pull over on the same stretch of road near a promising blueberry patch. People wear beards and flannel plaid unselfconsciously, and take pride in their Bean boots as a “local shop.”  (The Critter invented a new word for the ubiquitous uniform of Mainers. “Flaid”. Flannel + Plaid. Get it? We’re coining it. Feel free to use it, but she’s going to send you a bill if you do. She’s like that.) 

We’ve decided we like it. You should come by and visit.  But now I’ve got to go. The moose are knocking more insistently. I think they’re actually here to complain about the smoke from the wood-stoves. I hate impertinent wildlife. 

The Gradys.