Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Maine is beginning to show the best colors in New England. But it's funny. Maine people make trips to New Hampshire and Vermont. All the while residents of those states come here. I have seen dozens of Florida cars lately and there are still many license plates from Canada. Canada must have beautiful fall colors so I don't think they are here for the foliage. Rather that they are here for the last glorious days at the local beaches where still, some days are warm enough to enjoy sitting on the beach and even if you're hardy enough, to go for a dip in the chilly Atlantic. I think the lakes and ponds have cooled significantly, but a lake surrounded by Maine hardwoods and evergreens make lovely retreats for those not inclined to swim. And the fishing is still good for those who like to dip a hook and line.

I drive to Yarmouth frequently - about seventeen miles from my home - and I watch the changes almost daily. Very interesting. Even the rocks take on a different tone. As the moisture increases as it has recently the rocks darken and the striation is markedly distinct. I happen to love rocks. I pick them up here and there and bring them to my limited garden space. Once when my husband and I were visiting Canada in the St. John area I noted that the rocks were a very red hue. I said I was going to stop and pick some up. My husband was aghast. "You'll get arrested!" he admonished me. "If everybody took a rock there wouldn't be any left!" I learned afterward that some states do penalize people from removing rocks which are considered part of their natural habitat. (Do rocks have habitats or does that word only apply to living things?)
I have a nice piece of petrified wood which I actually bought in a rock shop. I don't put that outside in the garden. I paid $5 for it and the man who sold it told me it was a bargain. In Maine we are not supposed to remove rocks from the shore. When I was a child the neighbors at Goose Rocks Beach had an outside fireplace built and every rock came from the shore. They also had a beautiful indoor fireplace built of field stone. That fireplace had a tooth of mine bedded in the mortar. Mr. Sullivan was the stone mason and he told me it would be there forever. Alas, the whole area burned in the forest fires of 1947, and fireplace, which was all that was left, was knocked down in order to build a new cottage.

Back to colors. The sumac right now are not exactly red, but not brown. They are an amazing deep mix that might be nearest to maroon. And then the leaves are turning yellow and I wonder why I have never seen a wall paper or cloth with that startling combination. I still have a very blue morning glory climbing up the fence. It is so entangled in the branches of a bush I tried to trim I had to leave the chore for later in the season. The roses are truly faded. The red is now pink and the yellow is nearly white. The healthy grass is very green, but the "stuff" in the front has been cut too short all year, and is full of some alien growth which is rusty brown. Each fall it looks like this, and each spring it seems to come back to life. The evergreens are a very dark as they harden up for the cold weather to come.

And so the palette changes from day to day. And if you don't stop to look around, to see the marsh grass become golden and tough, to see the brown cat tails burst and become fuzzy-headed wands, to see the milk weed dry and open and scatter their feathery seeds over the fields, you are missing the greatest show on earth.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rushing -----

Rushing - we are now rushing to get ready for the "real fall" which is that brief moment between Indian summer and winter. This time of year we revel in the last flowers of the season. I hate clipping the roses back as long as there is a bud that might get a chance to bloom.

I have a honeysuckle vine which grows on a plastic trellis. It is beautiful all summer long, the humming birds love it and the honey bees come to gather the nectar the birds miss. It became very heavy and in recent windy weather the whole thing collapsed. I bought a package of L-hooks (you cannot buy just one, you know) and screwed it into the fence. I struggled but finally got the whole thing hung back in place. There were still blossoms and the next day the hummingbirds were still visiting. Then, woe is me, the whole thing once again collapsed. I screwed yet another hook into the fence and rehung it. But I saw that it was so lush and heavy it would not stay long if I didn't prune it. As I said, I hate cutting any buds that might get a chance to blossom, so delayed the job.

Yesterday after my son had helped with spreading mulch I decided to tackle the honeysuckle. That vine was so intertwined the task was laughable. I would clip a branch and pull, and finding it firmly wound around another branch, I would clip and pull. And so it went. The pile of branches is still in the yard, the vine is still too heavy. But I punctured my arm with a particularly resistant stem, so being cautious about infection, I aborted the operation. I cleaned the wound (I should give so much blood when at the lab!) and put a "band- aid" on it. Later today on this beautiful almost-fall afternoon, I will go out and gather the branches and consider cutting that vine right off at the ground. It will come up, you know. You cannot kill a honeysuckle.

Further rushing toward "real fall" the road crews are working day and night all over Maine to finish "shovel ready" jobs which are "your tax dollars at work." The tax dollars may be, some of the road crew are leaning on their "ready shovels." The newest befuddling traffic controls are slim sticks that resemble inverted plumbers' helpers. Before actual work sites a row of these little sticks are supposed to tell you where you should be to get to where you want to go. Apparently these are a Maine thing, because several drivers "from away" have had accidents trying to figure out which side of them they should be on. I thought if I stayed in the middle I could make a decision when necessary, and found the middle is where I wasn't supposed to be. But being a native, I wasn't worried. There's more than one way to get most anywhere - if you know your way around.

The kids are back in school. This lessens the amount of traffic involving those amazingly clever youngsters who text, drink soda, drive and chat with their friends all at the same time - in little black cars with seven kids sharing three seat belts. Oh, yes, they do! BUT - now the big yellow school buses are filling up the roads - and they are not rushing. They had schedules to keep but unlike the commercial buses, they take their time, stopping every few hundred feet to pick up a cluster of backpacking babies leaving home for -- a day? What are they carrying in those backpacks? I thought they were going for at least the whole week. I can go to Chicago for a five day convention with a bag not much bigger than those.

Well, rushing on, I have to do some FALL CLEANING.

The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many. - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Maine in September

I suppose it is no different in Maine than in other New England states, but Maine in September seems special to me. The weather really changes - daily - sometimes hourly. Today was just blah when I got up, but it seemed to clear up nicely until afternoon when a variety of clouds moved in from the north west (so the weatherman said) and overhead there were thick dark rain laden blankets. But layered above and below in random patterns, there were shades of gray. And around those there were puffy fluffy fleecy shifting white rimmed with gold clouds.

As I drove along I went into and out of showers. Some were almost blindingly torrential, thankfully very brief. Some were big drops that pelted. Some were fine as mist. The clouds were just doing what clouds do. Drifting around and occasionally tipping up and dumping on us.

The temperature has cooled significantly, but we will get more hot weather before winter sets in - and hopefully more rain - we need the woods to be wet to protect them from forest fires and to give the hunters and edge in November.

Another September in Maine event is the continuing road work. This year nearly every road is getting something done to it. Major rebuilding of crumbling bridges; resurfacing of miles of road that the commissioner declared "worn out." Fortunately most of the actual work is done at night, but all day long crews do what they can, and the flag men (who do not hold flags but double-sided "Stop/Slow" signs so why do they call them flag men?) anyway,they slow down the traffic causing people to get temperamental.

The kids are back in school so the buses rumble around from street to street. And the corners are populated with little ones in new sneakers and outfits. The orchards have signs out "U PICK" . I don't pick, thanks anyway. Lots of flowers are still blooming. Leaves are turning, and some are falling. Sweaters come out of the cedar chest; shorts go into storage. Farmers' markets are featuring fresh corn, cukes, tomatoes, summer squash and zucchini (you can have my share of both). Today I saw a big bright blue bus with something about Jordan's Rolling Fresh Market lettered on it. Nice idea. Reminds me of being at the beach for the summer when Mr. Snyder came twice a week with his old Reo truck with the swinging scale, loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables. Mr. Snyder had a strange accent. I asked my mother once why he talked "like that" and she said, with a straight face, "He is from Italy." ITALY? SNYDER? Did she really think that?

Enough. September in Maine - September in The Rain - glorious, last of summer September. Enjoy it while it lasts.