Living in the Northeast part of the country, it always seems like we just pass into one season and suddenly, it’s time for the next.
In Maine, winter is our longest season. Last year, October 31, it snowed. Here on the coast we didn’t accumulate a lot over the next 20 weeks. For us it was layers of ice that held on with a frigid grip. Even the old timers were grumbling. After weeks of skating from milking barn to chicken coop to wood pile, I decided to buy a pair of ice cleats for my boots. There were none to be found. I’m hoping this year is not a repeat performance.
Spring, a cold, wet version of it, lasted almost until the fireworks were shooting off over the harbor. Then overnight, summer arrived.
People sprung into action. Boats were readied and dumped overboard, chairs were thrown out on the lawn, gardens were planted, the mowing started and visitors arrived.
The week of the 4th of July, it was like a switch was flipped and suddenly the atmosphere was buzzing. The reverse happened Labor Day. In Maine, each summer day is savored knowing tomorrow, it could all be over.
Last year, once summer waned, I anticipated painting porch decking, getting new screens in, touching up outside trim boards on the eves. But farm chores needed doing, animals needed breeding and shearing, gardens and pastures needed cleaning up and putting to bed. I left the painting and screens for what I had hoped would be a late fall. Then it snowed, turned cold. The screens and paint tins were tucked away. Fall is here again and the screen roll sits waiting shrouded in it’s plastic sleeve, the trim boards primed. Hope springs eternal!
Once the days start to shorten, the sun lays low in the afternoon providing the most exquisite shadows of ordinary things. The pace changes. The garden is bursting, flowers are still in full bloom, goldenrod is raising it’s yellowy head, framing the girls grazing in the pasture, apples are beginning to sort themselves out, dropping off the smallest, weakest ones to be collected in tin buckets for evening treats in the barn. The air is cooling, morning dew on the puppy’s paws is almost chilly. At dawn, after a first cup of coffee while listening to the mornings news, the kitchen thermometer reads 42 degrees Fahrenheit.
I notice these things now and am happier with the noticing of them. The gurgling of the pond outside the screened door. The kerplunk of an apple falling to the ground off the gardens edge. Dragonflies, buzzing in the late afternoon sun, like tiny drones, scoping out late day snacking possibilities. Hens, arguing over a newly found beetle in the grass. Just days ago, I was noticing how much more traffic there was going down to the village, how crowded the general store was in the morning with summer visitors, how few, if any parking spaces there were at the dock.
I’m glad to live in a place where the seasons dictate our days. I’m even happier to be able to appreciate the rhythm of it all. It’s the sounds of lobster boats steaming out for the days catch, the warning signal of the Marshall Point Lighthouse on foggy days, the banter of the fisherman filling their cups with steaming hot coffee in the general store, the call of the Canada Geese starting their southern journey, that are my clock and calendar.
I know it’s the beginning of summer when Village Ice Cream opens, autumn has arrived when there’s counter space in the Port Clyde General Store, winter is set in when lobster traps are stacked in the dooryard and spring is around the corner when boots are coated to the ankles after walking with the girls out to savor the first green sprigs in the pasture, signaling “mud season”. As sure as there’s a mud season, there’s bound to be spring right behind it. I’ve come to rely on the rumbling of boat motors and fog horns, geese honking and boat whistles, the slam of the ice cream shop screen door and soft cries of goat kids leaving their Mother’s womb, to let me know which season it is and to appreciate the changes that inevitably come.