The transition from summer to fall happened quickly. It always does. One day I’m in a T-shirt and shorts and the next I’m in my flannel-lined Carhartts with a wool hat on my head.
The cooler air ushers in, leaves float playfully to the ground and the orange flame burns bright inside the wood stove. The buzz around the campground shifts to, “Gosh, where did summer go?!”
I remember seeing a photo of the southbound traffic on Interstate 95 from southern Maine on Labor Day. It’s the quintessential depiction of the long holiday weekend that marks the unofficial end to summer.
Maine summers: so fleeting and short-lived, yet so loved.
As I settled into September, like clockwork, a shift happened. For me, the time near the arrival of the autumnal equinox usually brings feelings of tiredness and a need to slow down. I don’t always hear the need to slow down, but I’ve been trying to listen more intently, and it’s there.
The summer season is so full of life and activity. The abundant sunshine offers us all more time to play outside under its glow, and the energy allows us to run around and see all the places and people we missed over the winter months. Our calendars are full.
As the warm days wind down, I give thanks to them but also feel ready to welcome the hints of autumn. The cool winds make me grab an extra layer and urge me inward to more introspective days.
Long gone are the handful of hummingbirds at the feeders and their bratty behavior toward each other. I’ll miss watching them. The migrating birds have fled; the cold air tells them it’s time. I wish them all well on their impressive journey south.
Following the leaves’ lead, acorns will soon drop from the trees they’ve grown and hung onto all summer. They blanket the earth and, the ones the chipmunks don’t snatch, the truck tires will crunch open. I can’t explain why, but it’s one of my favorite sounds.
And the gathering — all the animals are gathering this time of the year. The nuts, the berries, the warm makings for a winter home. They know what’s coming and that it’s time to prepare.
Isn’t nature so neat?
I haven’t gone on any big, impressive fall hikes. Rather, I’ve listened to my body’s need to slow down at this time. Instead, I’ve enjoyed walking around the campground and fishermen trails and noticing the changes.
A new season and pace offers an opportunity to see these very familiar places with new eyes.
I love going to the ranger station on Chesuncook Lake for sunset. I move away from the noise of the constantly flowing river to the stillness and slowness of the lake. It’s a different kind of quiet for me, and I savor it.
On a recent visit there, as I was walking the rocky shoreline, my eyes caught a canoe off in the distance. They were fishing and looked so peaceful as if they didn’t have a care in the world. I watched them for a bit and noticed they were heading right for the path of the setting sun’s beam of color on the water.
I went back to the truck and grabbed my camera.
Oftentimes, I wonder to myself if the people I’m photographing would mind if they knew someone was taking their photo. Even though they never hear me, I’ll ask permission and listen. I like to think that they too are happy to share with others the beauty of the place they’re experiencing at the moment.
I have only two weeks remaining in this neck of the woods before I transition back to Kingfield and to winter’s work. My days will be busy buttoning up the campground for winter and planning a big three-week vacation out West.
Yet, I’ll continue to take note, to jot down the changes that each of these fall days brings — the changes that I see with my eyes and feel with my heart. It’s such a special and noteworthy time of the year in Maine, and I hope each of you finds a way to stop and cherish it as well.