Category Archives: The Seasons

The First Day of Fall

In the northern hemisphere, today is the autumnal equinox, when day and night are more or less of equal length. But from now until December, the days will get shorter as we head toward winter.  From the Old Farmer’s Almanac here is a lovely quotation, an Irish proverb: Autumn days come quickly, like the running of a hound on the moor.

They certainly do.

In the United States, we also refer to autumn as fall. I asked my husband Clif which word he thought we used most.

“It depends on whether you want to be hoity-toity,” he answered.

This confirmed my suspicions. In Maine, anyway, fall is more commonly used than autumn.

Whatever you call it—fall or autumn—this is one of the most beautiful times in northern New England. The days are warm, the nights are cool, and soup is back again on the menu. And in October comes a blaze of glory as the leaves change from green to red and yellow and orange.

This September has been spectacularly nice in Maine, with sunny days punctuated by  enough rain to keep things green and growing. Especially during this time of the pandemic, we feel very fortunate to be able to spend so much time on the patio.

The gardens at our home by the edge of the woods continue their gentle decline toward winter. Still, there are things to notice and enjoy in the yard.

Little stars of fall,

the tangly garden in our front yard,

hens and chicks on a rock beside the garden,

the waning of the black-eyed Susans,

and a wee red mushroom in the front yard.

Not being knowledgable about mushrooms, I’ll leave this one to the wood fairies and sprites that no doubt come out at night.


This Last Day of July

Yesterday, it was so hot and humid that I barely had the energy to move from my desk to the kitchen to make a vinaigrette for our supper salad much less dust the bedroom. But I did indeed accomplish both tasks. My reward? A lemon popsicle and time on the patio—where it was a little cooler—reading Village School by Miss Read, aka Dora Saint. (Read was a family name.)

Each year, as an end-of-summer treat, I reread the Chronicles of Fairacre, an “omnibus edition, comprising Village School, Village Diary, and Storm in the Village.” Even though I look calm, I am a jittery person, and Miss Read has a way of calming my jitters. All three novels follow the main character, also named Miss Read, who teaches in a village school in the Cotswolds. The books are not great literature—does all literature have to be great to be appreciated?—but Miss Read’s love of the natural world, her shrewd yet sympathetic take on human nature, and her humor never fail to delight me. Dora Saint has won praise from both the New Yorker and the New York Times, and with them I shall let the matter of her reputation rest.

Next to the patio, the bee balm has been knocked akimbo by the driving rains we have had each afternoon this week. Last Saturday, when our friends Paul and Judy came over for cocktails, the bee balm stood tall and proud. Now it looks as though a large, heavy ball landed in the middle of the patch. Such is the force of the rain. But the bees don’t care—straight or akimbo, the bee balm is irresistible to them.

The bee balm, knocked by the rain
The bee balm, knocked by the rain

While I read, I took many breaks to watch the goings-on in the yard. Next to me, a daddy longlegs skittered along the  phlox, still in bud. Birds called as they flew from the trees to the feeders, and occasionally,  a large dragonfly would zip by.


Last night, the weather broke, and today is fine and hot with a bright blue sky. A good drying day, as my  mother would have said, and I have two loads of laundry ready to be hung on the line.

With this last day of July, which will have a second full moon this month—a blue moon—we are officially two-thirds of the way through summer in Maine. I love August and the hot, dry weather it often brings along with the loud buzzing of grasshoppers. I love the black-eyed Susans, the Queen Anne’s lace, and the golden rod in the fields. But August is also a sweet, sad month, the last month with nights warm enough to sit without a jacket on the patio.

To borrow from my friend Burni, who squeezes more joy out of an ordinary day than most people manage in a whole month, I will squeeze every bit of delight out of the golden month of August.

The Baby, Spring, and Other Things

Last weekend was quite the eventful weekend. On Saturday, I went to Piper’s—aka Darling Baby—first birthday party.  I know all babies are cute, but it seems to me that Piper is especially cute, and she had a wonderful time being the center of attention. She even led the guests on a round of birthday claps.

Here she is with her auntie,

Piper with her auntie

and with her birthday cake.

First birthday cake

After a couple of fun hours, I bid the birthday girl adieu and headed home. On the way back, I spotted Canada geese on the ice and stopped to take pictures.


Then, on Sunday, spring finally came to the little house in the big woods, and for the first time this year, I was able to hang laundry on the line.


The receding snow has revealed things both good and bad—a forgotten pot and emerging irises.



By mid-afternoon, the temperature in the backyard was 65 degrees, and even though there was still snow, I decided to haul out a chair and a little glass table so that I could have afternoon snack on the patio.


I know. I’m rushing the season. But what a sweet end to a sweet weekend.