Last Tuesday, the checkout lines at Hannaford looked like they were giving away relief checks.

These were folks who had already spent last week’s relief checks. They had gotten $450 bucks for oil just before it went up to $480.

The talk from Hallowell to Bangor was about a real killer.

Didn’t we already have one of those?

“No,” said Joe, my Waterville barber. “This one is a climate change nor’easter, a real big one. You better go home and get ready.”

“Ready?” I said. “ I don’t do ‘ready,’ I got a guy who does ‘ready.’”


Yes, it was coming, and we were ready. Well, I was ready. She was just sitting in her big chair, finishing a book and starting another, while I was doing real “guy” stuff, like loading flashlights and plugging in cellphones.

We had first met in a major New York snowstorm years ago, when I had been dating ballerinas, girl acrobats, and Iraqi waitresses. I thought Maine was a boat someone blew up in Cuba before Michael Corleone took it over. I didn’t even know where a place called Maine was.

I didn’t even know what a puffer was back then, 65 years ago, or what “nor’easter” meant. I learned fast. I have many puffers and have survived many nor’easters and a helluva ice storm. I was — this very night — getting ready for the “Apocalypse Now” of nor’easters.

Snow was romantic in New York, in songs and movies and poems in the New Yorker. L.A.? We lived in a city where Gene Kelly danced in the rain, where it hadn’t rained in five years.

In New York, we had a nice, warm apartment where everything was included, and we never had to worry about how much oil cost. And then one day, they stopped including everything except roaches and rats.

In Los Angeles, we had police choppers floating over our pricey neighborhoods. We felt safe.


Then one day She said, “Howzabout we go live in my little town in Maine and grow our own veggies, and you can wear overalls like Buddy Ebsen and mow the lawn and rake leaves like …”

“Wait, wait! How much do the Japanese gardeners charge in Maine?”

“The Japanese teach at Colby; they don’t cut grass.”



“French, like you?”


“Silly. Everybody there is French. You’ll love it. The summers are warm, and you’ll love autumn when the leaves turn red and gold and orange.”

“Leaves turn where?”

“Of course. They have real trees there.”

“No palms?”

“It’s Maine. It’s New England. It’s lobster and boats and birds, and they have people who shovel the snow away from your front door and mailbox.”

“Snow? Like in ‘Ice Station Zebra?’”


“Of course. It’s New England. You’ll love Christmas in Waterville; people come and sing in front of your house, and people put up real trees.”

“Real trees? Where do they get real trees?”

“In the woods. You’ll go and chop your own.”

“Chop? I’m an actor. I don’t do chop.”

Well, of course, here we were 62 years later, waiting for the white apocalypse, watching the lights flicker and powering up our iPhones.

I turned the thermostat up to 74 and checked all the doors, turned our electric blankets on at 6 o’clock, made the dinner early, knowing that a nor’easter was surely going to take all the romance and the meatloaf away.


The weather lady said, “6 to 10 inches of heavy, wet snow will bring down your branches.”

I turned on the porch lights and looked out at the thousands of limbs that would surely come down, and remembered how the snow covered the garbage cans on East 77th Street. How romantic?

Cut to this apocalypse storm. We’re ready. Isn’t it still romantic?

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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