The New Year is coming in snowy here on the Maine coast. One storm just brought us six inches or so, and another's coming in tomorrow with about the same amount.
It's gorgeous out there, but my attitude could be described as "modified rapture." (That's a quote from Gilbert & Sullivan's "Mikado," which means, yes, I am a dork.) Winter on the New England coast can break your heart if you're a snow-lover. For every storm that brings lovely, fluffy, skiable snow, there's another that turns to rain, sleet, or falling slush. It just doesn't do to get your hopes up.
Twenty-three years ago, when we moved here, Rob and I bought each other cross country skis for Christmas. (Actually, we waited for the after-Christmas sales, but we had holly in our hearts so that's what counts.) (That's almost a quote from "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. Dork, dork, dork.)
We bought cheapo plastic skis because that's what we could afford. This turned out to be a good move for several reasons. Because the skis were nothing to cherish, for the next two decades we could gleefully head off into the woods when there wasn't quite enough snow, and scrape our way across rocks and roots without wincing.
A couple of weeks ago, my cheapo plastic boots finally came apart. I'd been nursing the skis along for several years. They have oddball bindings that probably won't fit any other pair of boots in the world, so the death of the boots means the end of the skis, too. Considering that I paid about $100 twenty-three years ago for skis, boots, and poles, they don't owe me a thing.
I have my mother's skis and boots, but the boots are a full size too big and I don't feel safe wearing them into the wilderness, thanks. So if I want to ski in the woods, I have to buy another set of cheapo skis, boots, and poles. (The poles I'm using now are mismatched-one of them mine, one of them my father's-and close to breaking. Do I know how to pinch a penny or what?)
Here's the big, existential question: Do I live for Myself Alone, or do I sacrifice myself for Others?
It is a fact that New England weather loves to break hearts. It is a fact that the universe has a mischievous streak. Therefore it is a fact that, the minute I spend money on new skis, the snow will melt. And from that point on we will get only rain.
And if I don't buy skis, of course, we will have the best snow we've had in ten years.
So, do I get the skis now and condemn everyone to a lousy winter? Or do I delay the purchase until spring and content myself this winter with skiing around the yard in my too-big boots while everyone else enjoys the snow in the woods?
I'm afraid I know what I'll end up doing. My rational side will say cheerily, "Oh, don't be silly, the universe doesn't care whether you buy skis or not." Which is true. Of course. Right?
Enjoy the snow, coastal Maine. While it lasts.