Depending on who you ask, there are a lot of conflicting reports and mixed emotions on fall here in Maine.
As we all know summer in Maine is all too short, and because of this, like squirrels fattening up on acorns before winter, we cram in as much as we can. Filling every weekend with road trips, beaches, fairs, BBQs, concerts and just about anything else we can think of. Then come September we all wonder where the hell summer went.
Fall is like a long exhale. It’s the refreshing beer after the shot of whisky that is a hectic Maine summer. It’s smooth jazz after three months of rock n’ roll. Fall is a return to sanity. An opportunity to slow down, spend time with family. It’s an important buffer between summer and winter. Without such a time we would all be shocked by the misery that is January and end up throwing ourselves in front of traffic.
Beyond being the only season in Maine that isn’t crazy and ridiculous, there are plenty of reasons to like this time of the year.
1. Get out into the country and take a good look at the foliage. Over the next few weeks the trees turn bright and vibrant colors. It’s impossible to do justice to it with paintings or pictures. It’s as if the forest is ablaze in a warm glow that reaches in and touches your soul. Hiking is at its best this time of year. Driving around the state takes on a new form. Rather than trying to make good time, you actually make a good time.
2. BBQ season might be over, but the smell of charcoal outside is replaced by mouth-watering smells in every home. From slow cookers perfecting homemade chillies and stews, to the smells of apple crisp, pumpkin pie and other great tastes of the season.
3. In fall there is absolutely no way to dress correctly. This past week was in the 30’s in the morning and 70 by mid afternoon. I may not know whether to wear shorts or pants, but I do know I can wear my LL Bean flannel from now until Christmas.
4. Schools back in. That means all the tourists who have monopolized all of Maine’s best attractions have packed up their mini-van and headed south on 95. True there is a second wave of tourists who arrive after Labor Day. But they are either “newly weds” or the “nearly dead” and they pretty much keep to themselves. So feel free to hit up Acadia, Bar Harbor, Camden, Belfast, Freeport, Farmington, any restaurant in Portland, any number of mountains or one of Maine’s billion or so lakes.
5. Football – needs no explanation
6. This time of the year many complain that the heat of summer is gone (thought they tend to be the same people who hid out inside with their AC all of August). It is true that the sun dips a little lower in the sky this time of year but some of my favorite feelings are associated with fall temperatures. The feeling of the sun warming me but not making me sweat as I rake up leaves outside. The scratchy burn I get from the cold in my lungs after an early morning run that makes me feel like I actually accomplished something. The coolness in the air at night that contrasts perfectly with the fire I light in my backyard.
7. Fall seasonal craft beers – also needs no explanation.
8. I love getting out in the woods with my shot-gun and my golden retriever this time of the year. In just few short days partridge season will be open and for many reasons it’s my favorite of all hunting experiences. With bird hunting I don’t have to sit still, I don’t have to be quiet, and I don’t have to get up at o-dark-thirty. I can hop in the truck with my dog and a few good friends and whether I shoot 0 or 4 birds, I’m going to have a good day.
9. Most importantly, I have always felt that fall brings people back together. Getting people organized in the summer takes an act of congress. It seems like everyone I know is either cramming a months worth of fun into their week off, or they’re swamped at the office, buried under double the work. This is not conducive to large gatherings. Fall brings people back together. Football on Sundays, family dinners, Halloween parties, Thanksgiving, apple picking, etc. it all happens in the fall. Its our last chance to see people before we get buried alive by 20ft of snow.
For all these reasons I look forward to Fall. Often under-appreciated and overlooked, it’s Maine’s greatest season.