Once upon a time, August used to be my favorite month. The days were hot and dry, the nights were cool, and the mosquitoes were pretty much gone. But as with so many other things, August in Maine seems to have changed—it’s rainier, muggier, and filled with mosquitoes. I was not surprised to read in the Boston Globe that in Maine “precipitation has increased by more than 10 percent, with the worst storms bringing significantly more rain and snow.” Yes, indeed, and those of us who were born here and have stayed here will find ourselves nodding in agreement.
September, on the other hand, appears to have removed itself from the rainy cycle. In fact it almost seems as though it’s the new August. The days are sunny, dry, and, if not hot, then at least warm. The nights are cool. The mosquitoes are pretty much gone. This September was nothing short of glorious, with plenty of days for bike riding, sitting on the patio, and listening to the crickets sing and the loons call.
But like all good things, September had to come to an end, and now we have October, which I am hoping will also be good, albeit in a cooler way. There is no more bike riding when Clif gets home from work. However, we do sit on the patio for a bit before heading in to make supper. By seven o’clock, it’s dark, and we now pull down all the shades to make the house feel cosier and warmer.
The leaves are falling, and I spend a fair amount of time sweeping the driveway and patio. The hummingbirds are long gone, but the year-round residents—the nuthatches, chickadees, finches, titmice, woodpeckers—still make a jolly flutter and racket as they come to the bird feeders.
Yesterday, I began cutting back the perennials, a daunting task now that my knees are so creaky. “If you didn’t have so many gardens, then it wouldn’t be so bad,” Clif reminds me.
Yes, yes. I know. But I love my gardens, and I will continue to tend them until I can’t anymore. (I hope that day is a long way off.) As with any other task, once I get started, it somehow doesn’t seem as bad. I began as I always do, with the hostas around the stump in the front yard. This afternoon, which promises to be nice, I’ll do some more cutting, and by the end of the month, all the gardens will be cut back, waiting for the big freeze that will harden the ground. And then snow. If the past few years are any indication, then there will be plenty of it.
While I am sorry to see the end of September, I must admit that I like October—the apples, the fall harvest, the turning leaves, the birth month of my eldest daughter. All these things make it special.
This time of year, I really enjoy making apple pies for family and friends. Macoun apples—so crunchy, so sweet, so tart—are ready, and I have been greedily eating two a day. (To keep the doctor really far away?)
The trees are already splashed with color, and I am looking forward to bike rides by Lake Maranacook when the trees are in a dazzling blaze. While it might be too dark to ride when Clif comes home from work, we can still ride on weekends, and I take rides by myself in the afternoon.
Pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins. Stews of all sorts, and there’s a new red lentil recipe that I want to try out in the next week or so.
And who knows? Maybe the weather will even allow us to grill a pizza or two before it becomes too cold to eat on the patio.
Dare I hope that October is the new September?