Suddenly, the Cold of Late Autumn

This year September, October, and even early November have been so warm—balmy, in fact—that when the cold weather came in a rush, it caught me by surprise. Before that sneaky devil of a windstorm  knocked out the power to nearly a half-million homes in Maine, Clif and I had brought in all the furniture and lawn ornaments. So in that sense we were ready.

But, as of a week ago, we still hadn’t had a hard frost, and I felt no sense of urgency about dealing with the potted plants outside. Silly me! Now the soil in the pots is frozen hard, and unless the rain comes to soften it, I’ll have to bring the pots down cellar to thaw.

I hope I have learned my lesson. For the past five years, Maine autumns have been markedly warmer than they were in the past. But this doesn’t mean the cold weather won’t come. It surely does, suddenly rather than gradually, with little warning. Changes, changes, and it is time for this old Mainer to adapt.

Regardless of the warm weather, the bright leaves fell right on schedule, and now we are into the russets of November. After the burst of mid-fall, some people find this landscape too monotonousness, too austere, but I am not one of them.  Instead, to me, the countryside is soothing, lovely in its plain garb.

There is no better place to appreciate this than by Maranacook Lake, and yesterday, on my way to pick up the Sunday paper, I swung by the public beach for some pictures.

In the background are the lovely russets of the oak leaves, and the white specks on the float are seagulls. Maybe they should be called lakegulls as they seem to be permanent residents.

Here is a closer look.

Then I turned my attention to the trees and bushes, stark yet beautiful.

In this season of thankfulness, I am ever so grateful to live in a place that has four distinct seasons. All right, there are five seasons if you count the muddy misery of March, but right now my focus is on gratitude rather than resentment. Plenty of time for the latter when March rolls around.

Fortunately, March is many months away. For now, despite having  pots with frozen soil that probably will have to be hauled down cellar to thaw, I’ll take in the serenity of November, a month that surely knows the long, dark cold of winter is coming and is more than ready for it.

43 thoughts on “Suddenly, the Cold of Late Autumn”

    1. They do seem to be here a lot of the time. I suppose when the lake freezes they must head back to the sea. But I don’t really know. It’s funny how unaware we are of the wildlife around us.

      1. I’ve heard the term “raft of coots”, which describes a group of coots, but that looks like a “raft of gulls”.

        The photos from your area are beautiful, Laurie. We have gone into cold, wet winter weather here in our area. Higher elevations have had snow.

    1. Yes, yes! Clif will be bringing them in today. It even snowed a bit last night. Two weeks ago, the weather was above 60 degrees, and we hardly needed a jacket. Crazy!

  1. I’ve been enjoying the color of oaks and beeches as well. November colors always make me think of Thanksgiving. It is when these leaves fall (or dry on the tree) that the monotone gray/brown gets to me. Once the snow falls, it doesn’t seem so bleak.
    That lake float looks like it is listing hard to port. 😉

    1. It sure is! There is even a sign warning children to stay off the float, but of course the children disregard the sign. But as soon as the weather turns, the gulls have it to themselves.

  2. I agree- the late fall and winter landscapes hold beauty of their own. Tree branches with a variety of shapes and barks, stark shadows, and the sunsets are spectacular. As always you wrote about it beautifully!

    1. Not in Maine! Those little beauties don’t usually appear until April. Instead we have dirty snow packed down hard followed by mud so deep it can suck the boot off a child’s foot. What a month!

  3. A fascinating post, Laurie. We could easily be lulled into thinking the cold won’t come, but we have had time to get much inside. I agree that skeletal trees have their own beauty.

    1. I sure was lulled this year. I will make a great effort to learn from my mistake. It even snowed a bit last night, and I still have raking to do. I’m hoping it will melt so that I can finish the job.

  4. I am with you, Laurie. I love the beauty of the winter landscape. It’s only when the trees drop their leaves that they reveal the their intricate design. And it opens up the views and highlights the sky.

    1. As I’ve noted in other comments, this seems to be the new pattern for fall in northern New England.

  5. Hi Laurie,
    Have you tried to email me again? I have looked in my Junk and Spam folders and nothing is there from you – what can be happening with our email connections?
    You could let me know here which cards you would like and how many of each. Or you could do that on my blog in a ‘comment’. Then we could just delete our communication afterwards.
    There are 5 different cards. Let me know if you need more details. I’m sure we will get there in the end!

  6. I agree about the distinct seasons–and each one has amazing beauty. We, too, were caught off guard by the cold. Our pots were in but not our outdoor furniture–and it still isn’t! oops!

  7. We hadn’t pulled our broccoli plants because they were still bearing. I wonder now if we will be able to pull them and seed our winter rye.

    1. I know! Son of a biscuit, the cold came fast. Just as it did last year. The new normal, I think.

  8. I am always getting caught out by the weather! I imagine the mild autumn weather will go on for ever and I that I have plenty of time to do all my garden chores. Every year! We haven’t had a really cold winter for four years now so there hasn’t been as much damage to plants recently but …. any time now there might be a severe frost or snow ….

  9. I love this post, Laurie, “about your season of thankfulness”. Glorious pictures of “the russets of November”, and I smiled at “the muddy misery of March”!

Comments are closed.