Category Archives: Fall

In Maine, Winter Is Never Far

As we wend our way through fall, Clif and I have been getting ready for winter. On Monday, we got our first pallet of wood blocks for our furnace.

Time was when we ordered five or six cords of wood, stacked it outside in rows so that it would dry, and then hauled it down cellar. This provided lots of warmth through exercise, but we are getting older and have decided to give ourselves a little break. We get these blocks from a local store, and they are made entirely from sawdust waste. One pallet is equal to about a cord of wood, and we can order the blocks as we need them.

Clif has rigged up a cart that, in about an hour and a half, allows him to haul the blocks and stack them down cellar. About the only bad thing about these bricks—which burn hot and dry, leaving little creosote behind—is that they are, alas, wrapped in plastic.

, of course, 

Here is a fun Maine saying for those of you who “are from away.”  When someone does something considered a little odd or off, we often say, “Well, that one is a few logs short of a cord.”

Which just goes to show that heating and cold weather are never far from our thoughts. When you live this far north, winter is always on the edge of your mind. Even during the balmy days of summer, we know that snow and icy winds are just around the corner.

The other night, as we were watching television, I heard the phantom sound of the town’s snowplow as it roared down the road. There were, of course, no lights flashing against the blinds in the living room as the plow went by. There was no plow.

But some sound jogged my memory, reminding me that winter is near.

 

 

Komorebi: Sunlight Streaming Through the Trees

In a recent post, I featured this picture of glowing November leaves.

In the comments section, my blogging friend Susan Rushton noted “[t]he sunlight through the trees illustrates the Japanese word Komorebi I was reading about earlier in the week.”

Although I have long admired the Japanese for their ability to use a single word to express a concept, I had never heard of komorebi before. I decided to do a little research.

From the Chicago Botanic Garden I learned “[t]he dapples of light and leaf are caused by the pinhole effect—the same concept that allows a pinhole camera to work. Light passes through a small hole—or in this case, the gap between leaves—and projects an inverted image on the other side. This effect is especially notable at dawn or just before dusk, when one can observe a cascade of shimmering amber light. While the sight is familiar and nostalgic, there is no English word for this phenomenon. There is, however, a Japanese word: komorebi.

“There are three important parts to this word: 木 (ko) meaning tree, 漏れ (more) meaning to escape from, and 日 (bi) meaning sun. Together, the characters mean something like ‘sunlight filtering through trees.'”

Inspired by komorebi and the Japanese, I went out in search of more amber light filtering through the leaves of trees. I was not disappointed.

By the edge of my deck, I came across this astilbe. Even though the astilbe is not a tree, it seems to me that the sunlight glowing through the plant’s leaves captures the beautiful quality of komorebi.

Thank you, Susan, for introducing me to komorebi, a concept that I both knew and didn’t know, which has come to me each fall as the leaves change to russet and yellow and the sun slants sideways not far above the horizon, casting a golden glow over the landscape.

 

 

The Frost has Come

In Maine, we have had a beautiful fall this year. Lots of sunny days with just enough rain mixed in. As it has been for the past several falls, the weather was warmer than average, which allowed us more days on the patio, right through to the middle of October. I know. The warmer weather is not a good sign, but as a Mainer, I can’t help but appreciate the extension of summer into September and September’s weather into October.

Back in the day, the first frost in Maine came sometime the middle of October, but this year it came the first week of November. The frost nipped the basil and the begonias.

It was hard enough to freeze the water in the bird bath.

And it definitely put an end to the tomato plants.

Time for some clean-up. Following  the advice of Jason from the blog Garden in a City, I no longer cut back perennials in the fall. Instead, I do everything in the spring. According to Jason, over the winter uncut perennials  provide a home for many beneficial insects.

As it turns out, waiting until spring is a much better fit for my schedule. In the fall, I am either finishing a book or publishing a book, and I can barely focus on anything else.

I know some gardeners are concerned that waiting until spring will make the clean-up harder. I have not found this to be the case. Because I live by the woods, there is always a lot of clearing to do in the spring, and the remains of the previous season’s perennials are easy to scoop up with the bed of leaves that inevitable fall and blow into my gardens.

But I do remove the wilted annuals—herbs, flowers, and vegetables. I also rake the last of the fallen leaves from the patio and bring in most of the garden ornaments, including that bird bath, which is now tucked safely down cellar.

The big patio table has also been brought down cellar, but we have left the chairs and firepit set up in hopes of having a few more fires before there is too much snow.

And, we are still sliding in weekend treats of grilled bread, which we now eat at the dining room table. But those days will soon be coming to an end.

This is a bittersweet time of year as we say farewell to the delights of early fall and move into the colder, shorter but still beautiful days of November.

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Above, I mentioned how busy I am in the fall, and this year is no different. I am working hard to finish Book Four in my Great Library Series, and I hope to be done by Christmas. At 50,000 words with 40,000 or so to go, I’m not sure if I’m going to finish by then, but that is my goal.

To make things a little easier, I will temporarily be discontinuing the “Nifty Posts from Lovely Blogs” section that I have often been featuring on Mondays.  Also, I won’t be able to participate in any challenges. I plan to continue with both after the book is done, sometime in the new year.

But never fear, I will still be reading your lovely blogs until I take my Christmas break.

Onward, ho!