New England Winter Season
The arrival of December means that the winter season here in Maine is in full overdrive. This will be the first winter I have ever lived through since growing up in tropical and desert countries robs you of that experience. We actually got our first legitimate 1–3 inches of snow this past Wednesday which both astounded and worried me at the same time. I was surprised to see my car covered in some snow which was hilarious to me. 7 years of living in southern California and not a single time was my car covered in actual snow! Of course, those frosty nights in Ojai did get cold though.
For most of my readers that grew up in winter climates, you must be laughing at the concept of me freaking out over 1–3 inches of snow. As an example, one of my dearest friends lives in Finland where the snowfall there is immeasurable! Apparently, from most of the people that have spoken to me, the past 2–3 years in Maine have resulted in “mild” winters. The amount of snow has definitely decreased over the past couple of years, however, the entire New England area is still prone to blizzards. Part of me is glad that the upcoming winter will be mild, however, the environmentalist within me is also sad at the same time. Climate change (global warming or whatever title you wish to assign it) is having a dramatic change on weather events around us.
In any case, New England weather is proving to be unique! Today, as of December 11th, we got two snow events along with a torrent of rain that washed most of the snow away. December until March is going to be characteristic of this pattern with a lot of snow and rain. However, we also get periodic breaks when the sun shines right through resulting in a nice but still cold day with blue skies.
Christmas Prelude During The Day
One of the pros of living in Kennebunkport is the ability to behold and participate in the event known as Christmas Prelude. Essentially, a Christmas festival spread out over 2–3 weeks on Fridays and the weekends. The entire port comes to life with bands, opened restaurants and stores, events, and most importantly Christmas decorations all over the place. Fun fact, Christmas Prelude in Kennebunkport is apparently #2 in the entire United States when it comes to actual Christmas events. This was definitely an experience which was made better with new friends that I made through the local gym. I even had a friend of mine from my Santa Barbara days come visit since he was in Boston for a conference!
Last weekend could be considered the “peak” of the Christmas Prelude crowd in Kennebunkport. It was insanely packed with so many people coming from out of state such as Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, etc. I think we also had international tourists as well in the area which was amazing! The streets were filled with jovial tourists and families, the stores were full of tons of people, and tourism was definitely at an all time high during this period. This weekend, I notice as I look out my window, that the crowds have somewhat declined but some people are still out there at the same time. To be fair, it is poor weather today to begin with (this may explain why).
Christmas Prelude During The Night
Christmas Prelude is a different animal when it comes to the night versus the day! At night, the bars and restaurants are completely filled with people that are seeking good cheer with drinks, food, and dancing with live bands. I had the opportunity to pre-game at my place near the port for an hour or two before descending into the mass crowds that filled the streets. It was simply stunning seeing all of the decorations now lit up at night! Perhaps the most enjoyable for me was seeing the Christmas tree lighting at Dock Square which is the centre of Kennebunkport. This monolith of cheer was erected with a ton of lights and decorations attracting a large number of people who wished to take pictures at the base of the tree.
My friends and I went around the town visiting Ryan’s Corner House Irish Pub & Restaurant which had a fascinating interior design choice. I wish I had photos but I was a little too intoxicated by that point in the night to think properly. However, imagine a ceiling completely covered in dollar bills and signed by their placeholders. This pub was definitely evocative of an actual Irish pub that you would find in Ireland or somewhere else in Europe. The inside is a little cramped but you can get a hearty Guinness to wash down all your fears and worries.
Moving on, we walked or in my case lumbered down to the Baston River Brewing & Distilling restaurant which was my favorite place of the night. This place can be described as combining a “modern yet rustic style” with the venue being multiple levels. On the third floor, they have a bunch of board games including a pool table, dart board, and scrabble board mounted on the wall. After ingesting their warm cider and whiskey (useful on cold nights such as this), I played a team-versus-team competition of darts between the Maine natives and the Outsiders. Somehow we won! Even though my hand-to-eye coordination was poor, I was improving the more we played (perhaps I was also sobering up as my power level went through the roof).
The last stop of the night was dropping by the pseudo-dive bar known as The Pilot House. This restaurant had a tent outside that was filled to the brim with people which got me curious. It turns out there was a live band playing songs in the very back resulting in a mosh pit of sorts! I could not really vibe to the type of music they were playing, however, I enjoyed the sight of people having a good time despite everything going on in the world today. That or the numerous drinks by that point was enough to make me happy and giddy no matter what.
The End Nigh Approaches…
I still cannot believe how fast 2021 is coming to a close. It literally seems like yesterday when I moved to Maine to start a new life with my job. Now, I have evolved to the point where I am actively making new friends and enjoying everything that Maine has to offer. I look forward to enjoying more of the state over the next year when the winter season dies down a bit and the sun shines a lot more! Got some big things planned for 2022!