...to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free....

09 February, 2011

the local municipal snow ballet

Many of you have told me you have visited Maine in the summer, or you hope to one day. 

Ever wonder how we cope in the winter?

A few days ago I said that in Maine we know exactly what to do with snow.  Today I took a trip to the library and lo and behold, the snow ballet was in full operation. 

(Warning:  these are not art shots, or anything close.  I was doing my best to stay out of the way in the midst of monster trucks and bucket loaders.  Plus, my fingers were falling off left and right in the cold.)  

We are looking at one of two 'main' streets in town.  Usually, traffic on this street is an orderly procession of two lanes of one-way traffic, which yields obligingly to cars parking or leaving spaces after they visit the post office, library or shops.  (In the winter, anyway!)   Today, the dump trucks hogged the right lane, and parking was allowed only on the left side of the street.  I have to say we all coped gracefully, probably because this dance makes our lives so much better in the end.  The trucks don't even parallel park.  See how they kind of kitty-corner?

And then there is this guy.  He does most of the dancing.  I want his job.

He drives in to a good big pile of snow, then digs.   Look at  his wheels off the pavement.

After he takes a good big bite, it's down to the waiting dump truck.

Lift the shovel, and dump!  Then go back for more.

 A big bite,

back up a bit,

and deliver the load again.

See why I couldn't be too picky about exposure or composition? This all happens FAST.

When the truck is full, it pulls out heading for the snow dump, and another takes its place.

From the line at the snow ballet bar here:

  While the trucks wait, the drivers greet folks they know as they pass by.  

This is Fred.  He's been doing this for years.

I fled up the church steps to get this shot, as the driver kept advancing....

He's doing a special move.  He's "backwards plowing", so that the snow bank by the side of the street will disappear.  

This makes it once more possible to get out of one's car on the sidewalk side!


 ...and AFTER!!

So, do you wonder what happens to the snow?  Most every town in Maine has a 'snow dump' somewhere.  Ours is a little out of town, near the vocational school.

All day long, these guys and their machines move the snow around.

Here comes a new load---beep, beep, beep!

 and, dump!!

I don't know if you want to see a shot of an empty dump truck, but I liked this photo.

So that's the truth about the snow ballet, and I'm sticking to it.

Now, I am going to read one of the two books which were waiting for me at the library.  Should I start with St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, or should I read the Irish novel Ghost Light?  

Decisions, decisions.

Have a good night, everyone!


  1. I loved your photos of the snow ballet. I had to laugh in amazement when I looked at some of them; the guys in the trucks are wearing short-sleeved shirts! And Fred has his window rolled down! BRRR! They must have super-heated truck cabs!

    No such services here. The snow we got today, except in a very few places, will stay just where it fell until it melts.

  2. Wow. This is really interesting, Mike. Last year in Baltimore, about an hour west of here, they had about 3 feet on the ground and were completely overwhelmed with it all. The problem is no snow dump. And you can't put it in the water because of the salt and chemicals its been treated with. This makes sense to have snow dumps. Great photo essay, too.

  3. Great Blogumentary! (Is that a new word)
    By the time they are done this year the snow in the dump will be there until July! It's nice that you know Fred!

  4. I simply can't imagine that much snow to cope with on a regular basis, but I was thinking that it would be nice to be able to dump it in a reservoir of some kind so that come summer when "drought" conditions move in, there would be melted snow? :c) Just a thought...

  5. Yup, looks like my local towns. Or my backyard. Here's hoping we don't have heavy rains come through anytime in the near future. Talk about a disaster!

    Funny how other people are so amazed by seeing trucks carry the snow away when it's just a normal winter for us. Stay warm!

  6. A great idea you had, Jayne-- in theory-- but modern life throws a monkey wrench.... Since the roads have been treated with salt and salt-like substances, plus are exposed to chemicals from cars (for instance, oil and gas leaks), transferring the snow to the river or the ocean is against the law. Hence, the local snow dump. ;o)

  7. They certainly don't have these skills in and around Boston, looks a lot more organized up north

  8. This was great! We've had lots of snow here this year - basically in just the past two weeks; but it'll be in the 60's this weekend so most of it will melt away. (Except for the enormous piles of it they stack in parking lots - those might hang around until April).

  9. Folks who live in Maine are made of far sterner stuff than us weenies south of you.

    Or maybe it's just me.

    Great pictures! Fred is something else in his short sleeves!

  10. You did an amazing job of capturing this for us, especially the part where you had to escape up the church steps! We sure could use something like this Downeast! ~Lili