North of zero, as a relief

That’s Fahrenheit, or minus almost 18 Celsius. And that’s after the reading had gone much, much further south.

I know we’re not alone in the northern U.S. in a brutal cold wave, especially after an unusually warm spell, but what’s hit us has been brutal. The kind of snap that probably killed off my favorite beekeeper’s hives. Minus 17 and quite windy, for one thing. The temps dropped about ten degrees an hour before finally bottoming out overnight, where they lingered. After that, about noon today, reaching zero felt like a relief, especially since it appears no pipes froze. We’ll see. Two or three nights in a row might have been a different story.

Oh yes, our fuel oil tank was reading much lower than I would have liked, especially once we cranked the thermostat up just to keep up. The very walls were radiating cold, after all.

Unlike last year, neighboring towns were recording roughly the same temps rather than ten or more colder. The ocean around our island wasn’t providing any relief.

Worse yet, a man could go mad under the unending roar of the wind, especially when the condition of the roofing is in question. Men definitely did out on the prairie and likely Scandinavia, but here? You see asphalt roofing tiles all over town when you walk (not yet today) and wonder about how many have come from your house. And we’re grateful the gusts didn’t go over 25 or so, rather than the 50 we were bracing for.

The sea smoke this morning was incredible, but you’ll have to take my word for it.

No way was I going out to photograph it.

Here’s why we celebrate the arrival of each New Year twice

Every New Year’s Eve where I now live, folks gather in front of the Tides Institute – also known for the occasion as Tides Square – for the drop of a festive maple leaf emblem at 11 pm and then convene again for a giant sardine sculpture at midnight.

First, the maple leaf.

Forget crowded Manhattan. This is the kind of homegrown affair where you can actually run into people you know, as well as others you’ll be hoping to see more of.

With New Brunswick just a mile or two across the channel and very much a part of our community, Eastport can’t help but mark the one-hour time difference between the two shores. Your cell phone certainly reminds you, shifting from one to the other. And so, at midnight Atlantic Time, we drop the lighted red maple leaf while a small brass band plays “Oh, Canada,” with many of the observers singing along. And then there’s the first burst of pyrotechnics overhead. Yay! Wow! Grins!

Up close, at ground level.

Time for a break, perhaps for hot chocolate down the street or a stop at several diners open uncommonly late, or even a dash home.

An hour later, reflecting the fact that Eastport was once the sardine capital of the world, everyone’s back, awaiting a giant sardine sculpture to descend at midnight Eastern Time from the former bank building that now houses a museum. This round, we all cheer to “Old Lang Syne” and then a festive outburst of fireworks.

Star of the show.

Here’s what we’re looking forward tonight!

Why there’s no Eastport, Massachusetts

From 1653 until 1820, Maine was governed by Massachusetts.

The westernmost port down there is Westport, beside Buzzard Bay. A lovely place, by the way.

And the easternmost port was Eastport, in waters subsidiary to the Bay of Fundy. As you’ve been seeing here.

But then, come 1820, the two extremes separated when Maine finally became independent as a state.

Now I guess that easternmost point down under distinction falls on Chatham, out on Cape Cod. And Maine has no Westport.

One year, while still living in New Hampshire, I was in Eastport one weekend, and Westport, the next. I saw it as some kind of weird coincidence, not knowing there really had been a rational connection.

Have you ever thought about the name of the place where you’re dwelling?