Just smile

By Kris Ferrazza | Mar 22, 2019

We’ve nearly survived another Maine winter. And while it may feel like there isn’t much to smile about at this time of year, smiling is a necessity.

After four months of short days, long nights, whipping wind and frozen tundra, there finally is a light at the end of the tunnel. Of course that light is mud season. I would argue any population that actually looks forward to slipping and sliding in sloppy mud needs to be evaluated.

But this is us.

At my house, snow is melting fast and a lot of that water normally flows under our big barn and into the back field. But this year some of it collected near the sill and seeped into the barn. I went out to do chores last week and found one corner of the cement floor was soaked. The cement planters, garden cart and mower were sitting in half an inch of water.

The cause will need to be investigated further. I blame everything from groundhogs to ice buildup, while my husband says the truth is the old barn has been sinking for a while. That could mean a major project sometime down the line. Until then we are trying to remain positive.

“At least it’s a sign of spring,” I said.

“At least it was this corner,” he said, noting there was no damage and the pony stall and hay room were spared.

These are the pep talks we give ourselves as we attempt to put a smile on our faces and march through March. Someone at work recently commented that I always have a smile. I laughed and said, “Fake it till you make it.” It wasn’t really a joke. I smile when I’m happy. I smile when I’m not happy. I definitely smile when I’m stressed. It makes me feel better. It is a signal to myself that says, “You’ve got this.”

Years ago my husband, Tim, and I were driving home from a visit with family in Rhode Island. We were crossing the bridge from New Hampshire back into Maine when his Jeep started to lose momentum. He steered into the breakdown lane and the Grand Wagoneer died right there on the side of the bridge.

Normally we cheer every time we cross the bridge, whether we are leaving Vacationland to go on an adventure or returning home. But this time there was no cheering. Tim turned on the hazard lights, we gathered our valuables and jumped out onto the cement.

It was terrifying. Cars and trucks whizzed by at surprising speed as we ran like two jackrabbits down the right side of the road toward home. The whole bridge was flexing up and down under our feet and the weight of the passing traffic. The wind blew.

The sound was deafening. It was not good.

A guardian angel appeared, in the form of a truck driver who pulled his 18-wheeler over and said, “You shouldn’t be out there.” He was right.

“Jump in,” he said. So we did. He cruised to the exit just past the bridge and pulled into a truck stop in Kittery. We thanked him profusely. We called AAA and a wrecker soon arrived.

“There’s two of you?” the driver asked. “I’ve only got room for one.”

He called for backup and we formed a plan. I’d sit and wait on the curb while my husband accompanied him to the bridge to retrieve the abandoned Jeep. As I watched them drive away, I was not happy. The Jeep was broken down, we were two hours from home, it was about to get dark and I was sitting on the pavement at a truck stop. Was I smiling then? Nope. Not a bit. I sat there, mad at the world, wondering if I’d ever get home.

Before long a shiny tow truck pulled up and the smiling driver asked if I was waiting for a ride. I brightened immediately and smiled back. Why, yes, I was. I hopped into the passenger seat with my hero. Soon a voice crackled over the CB radio.

“Have you got her?” a man asked. Clearly this was coming from the first wrecker.

“Yup,” my driver answered.

“Is she happy?” the man asked.

My driver stole a sideways glance at me.

“Well, she’s smiling,” he answered confidently.

Then I heard my husband say something that since has become famous in our household: “Just because she’s smiling doesn’t mean she’s happy.”

We all laughed, and I knew at that moment that everything would be all right. And it was. The Jeep got fixed and we made it home.

So even if March feels like you’re running for your life on the side of the Piscataqua River Bridge, keep smiling. You don’t even need to be happy.

And the beat goes on.

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