By Chelsea Cook, Matt Dodge, and Nick Schroeder
Sure, you could just hole up in your room for the season, defacing U.S. currency and rationalizing that if things were actually that bad, a time traveler would have already come back to warn us. But if you don’t find some defense against the winter, it’s going to chew you up and spit you out like a depression-inducing snowblower. Consider this list your best defense against the dark season ahead.
You’ve seen in the movies how romantic is to go ice-skating with someone you’re crushing on. And there’s no better time in Portland’s history to act like you’re in that movie. The Rink at Thompson’s Point offers ice skating and tubing for the whole family at pretty decent rates — $18 for an all-day combo, not counting the hot toddies and BBQ ribs (from local barbecue truck Fahrenheit 225) you’ll rack up inside their heated lounge. Nothing like watching someone helplessly fall on their ass to reinforce how much you care about them.
If your ideal camping experience is only somewhat visceral, you’ve got options, from semi-heated bunkhouses to full-on glamping. Maine Huts and Trails offers a network of four huts in the Western Maine Mountains, winding around the Bigelow Preserve and providing access to hiking, mountain biking, and fishing. While accommodations might surpass your definition of a hut — with full kitchen, fireplace, bathroom, and showers — the bunkhouses can get a little brisk, so pack accordingly. In Durham, Maine Forest Yurts provides a perfect winter weekend getaway, with three yurts situated on 100 acres of private land on Runaround Pond. They’ve got fireplaces, ovens, and sinks, can comfortably sleep half a dozen, and rent for as little as $125 a night for three people ($15 each additional).
The Healthy Island Project in Deer Isle–Stonington is hosting WinterFest (January 14–16) with dancing, igloo building, and sleigh rides (for free). Acadia Winter Festival (February 12–14 in Winter Harbor) has hikes, movies, and quinzhee (lower-roofed igloo) building among loads of other activities. There’s also Auburn’s Winter Festival (January 27–29) and Portland Winter Light Festival (February 1–4). Tell that cold snap to put it on a t-shirt, cause you don’t wanna hear about it.
Cosplay Snowball Fight
It’s exactly what it sounds like — pick your favorite fandom, slap on extra layers under that cape or yellow spandex, and go to town. There’s so much to love about this silly outing: shouting references back and forth, feeling like a kid again, and the crappy Chinese buffet afterwards.
Go real estate speculating
Portland has a serious lack of affordable housing and home-sharing sites like Airbnb have only exacerbated the issue, but with 62 inches of snow falling on the city each year, it’s a solvable problem. Take a page from entrepreneuring New Yorkers who listed a “Boutique Winter Igloo” for $200 on Airbnb last winter following a massive blizzard, and get a piece of that development pie within your own backyard. While the site is likely to remove such a listing for not meeting occupancy standards, you might be able to convince one tourist that this is actually how we live.
Join the Resistance
With election induced anxiety over Portland like a Goodyear blimp of psychic pain, now’s the time to funnel your frustration and uncertainty into productive, community-building activities. There is no shortage of volunteer opportunities in the area, and many organizations are eagerly seeking help in anticipation of four years of lean support from the federal level. Check in with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Preble Street Resource Center, the Portland Racial Justice Congress, the Southern Maine Workers’ Center, and idealist.org for volunteer opportunities. Or, you know, just punch a fascist.
Become a Shoveler For Hire
Out of the storm emerged a figure. It was holding the most beautiful object imaginable. Against the wind and frost, they swung downwards and dug me free of my entrapment. “How can I repay you?” The figure just shook its head and withdrew back into the whiteout from whence it came. “I got 20 bucks!” The figure returned, nodded, took the Jackson, and withdrew once more. (#cashmoney)
Get High,Spend less
It just doesn’t feel like skiing unless you’re risking head injury and paying $90 for the privilege. With less snow falling and ticket prices rising each year, hitting the slopes needs some budget consideration. Night skiing at Shawnee Peak runs $15 for the weekly Monday Night Madness promotion from 3:30 to 9 p.m., and with a little foresight you can grab tickets on Liftopia for 30 to 70 percent off. We’d also remind you that while there are plenty of places that would happily charge you to sled or skate, that shit is largely free, and your inalienable right as a Mainer.
Without distractions like sunshine and fun to worry about, winter’s the time to hunker down and learn a new skill. Portland Adult Education provides instruction and training in fine arts, fitness, dance, languages, and wellness, giving locals the chance to learn everything from knitting to self-defense to blacksmithing and swing dancing. Maine College of Art offers a range of weekly classes, weeklong intensives, and day and weekend courses covering sculpture, printmaking, metalsmithing, and writing the perfect sex scene. With the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies now under the MECA umbrella, the school also has courses in radio storytelling, documentary film, and photography.
Weekly Friend Get-Togethers
Busy, busy, busy. Nothing stops a real New Englander from conducting bidness — not wind, sleet, or snow. That’s why it’s important — yeah, especially now — to honor what friendships we have with potlucks, free concerts (Portland House of Music is great for this), Netflix marathons, pinball tournaments (Arcadia, Coast City Comics), live jazz at MJ’s Wine Bar, or taking in a play together.
Get out of the World
Who says you gotta blow mad money on a trip to Maui? Books are a cheaper portal to new worlds and ideas, and can feel just as enriching as a jaunt to foreign lands. It’s like traveling, only in your pajamas, and you can still bring a friend.