It’s out there and it won’t go away now. It will be there for Easter probably. It’s cold stuff and wet and corroding and dangerous. Snowmobilers and skiers like it. Kids like it, and my snowplow man who works harder than I do and makes much more money, is happy to see it come.

I’m no stranger to snow. I grew up in Missouri, Illinois and Washington state. I’ve seen the morning sun turn it pink and orange on Mount Rainer in Seattle, and powder blue in the moonlight on Mount Fuji in Japan. I’m no stranger to snow, but no friend either.

In the winter of 1951, just before I left Waukegan, Ill., to go to school in Louisiana, where it never snowed to my memory, I worked on the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railroad as a fireman. It’s what they call a featherbedding job. The union says you have to have this young kid sitting in a chair across from the engineer.

I sat in that chair when it was 97 degrees, and we pulled freight down from Chicago to the steel mills in Gary, Ind. I sat there when the first snow blew in off Lake Michigan and the temperature dropped to 10 below with a wind off the lake that had come all the way down from the gulags in Siberia.

I sat in that chair when it was 97 degrees, and we pulled freight down from Chicago to the steel mills in Gary, Ind. I sat there when the first snow blew in off Lake Michigan and the temperature dropped to 10 below with a wind off the lake that had come all the way down from the gulags in Siberia.

In the yard, brakemen piled into the cab with us to keep warm and pass around a fifth of cheap whiskey. That was when I first started drinking. It was so cold some mornings that the brakemen had to urinate on the switches to get them to turn.

And then it snowed. Lake effect snow. I remember that snow.

One cold night, two of the brakemen, a Native American and a big Swede from Arkansas, who had actually done time in Joliet state prison, got into a fight. The Native American threw the Swede out of the cab into the snow.

When we pulled out down the yard, I asked “Aren’t we going to bring him in ?”

The winner said “You wanna join him?”

That was the first time I learned to keep my mouth shut.

I’m no stranger to snow. I spent eight winters in Manhattan. Snow in Manhattan is not pretty the way it is Belgrade Lakes. Snow in Manhattan has no friends, only enemies.

There are no skiers or kids building snowmen. There are just people trying to get from one place to another without dying, the way the soldiers did at Bastogne, except in Manhattan, it’s not mortars that will kill you, but cabs and bicycle messengers.

You can be holding little violets in your hand for that girl with the auburn hair, the one you can’t wait to kiss, and then you step off the curb and you’re dead.

One day when I was 28, I left New York City with the girl with auburn hair and moved to Los Angeles to try to become a movie star.

It doesn’t snow in L.A. It almost never even rains and when, after months and months of air so dry the palm tree rats come down to drink from the Beverly Hills swimming pools, the rain comes hard and fills up the Los Angeles River and sweeps all the garbage to the sea. But it never snows.

So I lived there for 28 years and never saw snow, not once. Then one day, when the Manson murders, the Hillside Strangler and the smog got to us, the girl with auburn hair, who had already changed my life, suggested we move back to her hometown in Maine.

When we arrived, we bought a good house, but it had no insulation. So a big man named Charlie came and started working on this house. While I was watching him, he looked out and pointed at the yard. It was snowing, the first snow I had seen in 30 years.

Charlie was delighted with my childish glee, as I ran out and stuck my tongue out to catch a snowflake, like a nine-year-old.

It has been 28 years since that day and a lot of snow has come and gone, and every time it comes, every time, at least once a winter, I remember Fuji and the rail yard where the big Swede lay bleeding in the snow, and the two dollar snow-covered violets for the girl with auburn hair who changed my life.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.