Good morning. Welcome home. You had a nice winter?

You overdosed on golf and shuffleboard and wore your masks around your chin, and you’re back. You’ve had your first vaccine shot, and ….

Wait. You haven’t?

Stand over there by the door while I continue.

OK. You packed up the clubs and gave the tennis courts back to the alligators. You locked the camper and drove away. Good for you.

As I step forward out of the gloom of the needles and news and take my twice-punctured left arm out shopping, I’m blinded by the flocks of Florida license plates in parking lots from Augusta to Bangor. Welcome home. No, I didn’t go south. I get nosebleeds after Augusta.

Waterville folks, for example, will notice some changes. Old spots are gone, new ones have replaced them. Old friends are departed, but new ones wait to greet you.

You’ll notice folks without masks, munching hot dogs and gulping beer on little Silver Street, laughing and jostling like it was Chicago at the end of Prohibition.

It’s the end of something. We don’t know what yet.

Things have changed up here while you were gone. No, it’s not called “Colbyville” yet. Don’t even say that. No one has changed the street signs. It’s a work in progress.

You’ll want to go for a walk down Main Street. Watch your step.

You might want to stick to the shady side of the street at first. The east side is a phantasmagoria of yellow machines, historic debris, falling bricks, broken glass and shattered memories.

Some call it enhancement.

The old Sterns building is gone, of course, and you’re still crying over Levines? Toughen up. You get your clothes online now anyway.

Oh, wow! There’s the grand Lockwood Hotel. It’s full of Colby kids right now, but we’re promised a future full of vaccinated visitors. Are you excited yet?

Before long, the new $18 million Schupf Art Center in downtown Waterville, complete with an Ed Harris candy counter (with Junior Mints, I hope), will rise. Get those tap shoes on, kids.

You can see by the numbers that we are not out of the woods by a far howl. We’re only in a clearing. But it’s your clearing, and the grass needs cutting. Get out that little John Deere and begin.

Welcome home, snowbirds, but watch your step. The future is always rocky, cluttered with laughter and tears, flowers and potholes, but your grandkids are going to live in it. So, wish it well.

Now, put on your mask, and go get your second shot of vaccine.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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