how climate change transformed maine, a place i love

Here I am in front of the Narraguagus River in Washington County, Maine. It's mid-December. 

EVERY MORNING I walk my border collie across our driveway to a field next door. I don’t own the field, but it’s obvious nobody’s come to visit in years. A small red cabin sits in the distance, the door is locked and you have to duck under a drooping power line to peek in the windows. Hawthorne is starting to take over all around it. This is where I complete a monotonous first task of the morning, throwing a tennis ball and waiting for my dog to retrieve it.

What’s great about having a dog is that they always get you out. I’ve noticed so much about nature by just being with my dog. When I take him to run in this field, one thought plagues me each day, especially now that it’s the second week of February.

Why isn’t there any snow?

This time last year, I was somewhere in the southwestern United States, driving to Mexico with my boyfriend. When we returned home in spring, we were told that we missed a shitty winter — there wasn’t any snow, it was rainy, wet, and cold every day. No point in going out.

Something about Maine that you have to get used to when you live here is that people talk about winter all year long. In July and August, people are talking about January and February. This summer, we all had high hopes for a snowy season — the Farmer’s Almanac had called for one.

But November, December, and January have gone by and there’s been limited snow. If we do get a small storm, it burns off in unseasonable heat the next day.

Is it climate change? Is the earth just on some kind of cycle? Does it even matter which? The truth is that Maine is now different and our seasons are disappearing. That’s been the case for at least a few years, or my entire lifetime. Older Mainers claim they’ve been noticing these changes for decades on end.

When I asked my boyfriend how he has seen Maine transform in his lifetime, he said: “When I was a kid, I had to wear a snowsuit on Halloween. This year I went swimming.” [read more]