– Joni Mitchell
Since moving to central Maine, rarely has a day gone by without someone asking me whether there are things I miss from home. The obvious answer is “family and friends,” but outside of that there aren’t many material things.
In a similar vein, rarely a day goes by that I don’t see Facebook posts from other friends who’ve moved abroad, celebrating the arrival of care packages full of Australian goodies unattainable in the U.S., or the U.K., or wherever around the world they now call home.
I’m certain I’ve written before that the U.S. is a land of such variety when it comes to groceries that it’s been easy to find alternatives to treats from Down Under to satisfy my rampant sweet tooth. To that end, the appeal of packages full of Tim Tams and other snacks wore off fairly quickly.
But there have been a couple of things that have come to mind recently, during this gorgeous Maine summer we’ve been having, that made me realize there are things I absolutely took for granted growing up where I did.
My hometown of Brisbane is located roughly in the middle of the east coast of Australia, and boasts (I suppose you could say) a humid subtropical climate. From September to mid-June, the mercury rarely dips below 50 degrees, and even during our six or so weeks of winter, you rarely see temperatures in the 30s, unless you’re out extremely late or up extremely early.
So while the summers can be obnoxiously humid affairs, punctuated by swift afternoon thunderstorms, the River City’s climate is pretty favorable all year around. That, in turn, makes it perfect for golfing 12 months out of the year.
Of course, that’s not the case here. During my first spring working for the newspaper, I was somewhat amused to read stories offering weekly updates on the status of the region’s golf courses: how the snow was melting, whether the fairways were still frozen, what shape the greens were in after such an icy few months.
It was yet another thing about heavy winters that I’d never even thought to consider, yet there I was, rooting for all of the golfers in central Maine who were anxious to get back onto the links.
Growing up with a father who would take the family to golf resorts on vacation, I chased the little white ball fairly often as a kid, although I stood on the opposite side of the ball to my old man, so hand-me-down clubs were never an option. My abilities and spare time to play waned after high school, and my golf game was reduced to an annual hack-fest on my birthday.
I only played once last summer, as a last-minute replacement in a charity event foursome, and I had more beers than I lost golf balls, which is no mean feat. But as it turned out, a lot of the friends I’ve made in the past 12 months are avid (not to mention, good) golfers, which has seen me on the course a lot more this year.
But along with the excitement of saying to The Girlfriend, “it’s beautiful out today, want to go get in a quick nine holes at Westernview?” comes the inevitable understanding that golf is very much a seasonal sport here. If we get lucky like we did last year, we might not see snow until well into December, so in theory there are a couple of months’ worth of opportunities left, but that’s a best-case scenario.
The other thing I’m grateful for about Maine summers is ice cream stands. Man, oh man. I’m by no means opposed to buying a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the dead of winter, but I don’t think I realized how much I appreciated frozen desserts until I moved to a place where ice creameries are (wisely) only open for the middle months of the year. The size of the crowds lined up at Fielder’s Choice in Manchester, or Webber’s in Farmingdale, especially in the evening when the sun’s warmth is fading, never ceases to amaze me.
It must be said that ice cream is a much more pleasurable pursuit than golf – even more so if you play golf like I do – but both are things I’ll be taking advantage of until long after the dog days of summer are behind us. It’ll be a long, cold winter without both of them.