Autumn in Maine
We arrived on the pond in Bradley in early September when we could still feel the heat of summer, the open windows of our camp bringing in a breeze at night. After Labor Day, the campers and boaters headed back into town and we could enjoy the peaceful setting undisturbed.
We chose to stay at this camp to be near my mother, who was turning 101 the next month. My mother is a remarkable woman who savors the simple pleasure of being alive another day. She is tended to by a team of aides who ensure her safety and engage her in puzzles and activities. We joined her every day we could.
When her birthday approached my mother frequently asked how old she would be and, after learning that she would turn 101, smiled and said, “I guess my days are numbered.” I laughed, agreeing that my days are numbered, too.
It was a quiet fall, filled with paddling on the pond or walking along the four-mile dirt road that lead to our camp.
We made one trip to Campobello, Nova Scotia, where we bicycled the entire island over the course of two days. I bought a beautiful new bike, an electric one, in September and experienced the joy of riding all over the place.
Throughout our three-month stay I worked with a local group that is affiliated with the Central Maine Labor Council called Food and Medicine. My assignment was to make contact with three dozen small farmers throughout the region and contract with them to purchase some of their crops, part of a program called Solidarity Harvest.
Solidarity Harvest raises money from labor unions, community groups and individuals to provide nutritious overstuffed baskets of food to some 1,300 Mainers in need. It is founded on the principle of solidarity, not charity. Before Thanksgiving, nearly 40,000 pounds of the produce – carrots, squash, turnip, beets, onions, garlic, apples and cranberries – need to be sorted and weighed, a feat carried out by an army of volunteers. Mark joined in this year, serving as captain of a team of college frat volunteers.
We went for long hikes every weekend, admiring the leaves as they turned from green to gold. The hills near Acadia National Park provided an opportunity to watch the maples burst out red and orange and the colors of the blueberry fields explode.
On one hike in Steuben, we discovered a plaque on the grave of a geologist, Wilmot Bradley, that read: “The earth has music for those who listen.” Inspired by these words, a local seismologist and artist created a global chain of monitoring stations that record the vibrations of the earth and broadcast them online at earthsound.com..
Click here to listen to the sounds of Pigeon Hill in Steuben and enjoy below a view of the ocean from the hilltop.
Our camp on Chemo Pond in Bradley was really much more than that. The house hugs the shoreline and looks out at the hills surrounding the pond. Fully equipped with a canoe, a kayak and a paddle boat, we could take a paddle whenever the mood struck.
Inside, the house was so solidly constructed with great attention to detail. Our landlady, Jane, is also a woodworker and she had a hand in building the place. She also decorated it with etched carvings and taxidermied animals.
While the weather was still mild we had some visitors, including Sharon and Simonetta from Cornwall-on-Hudson and Ernesto, the son of a friend. Our son, Max, was able to spend several days with us out in the country and we sang songs around the campfire one full-moon night.
In late October, Margo and John joined us for a few days from Minneapolis and we managed to get out and hike around the area despite many grey clouds and some rain.
By then, the warm weather was a distant memory with temperatures at a record low. We put our bikes away and donned orange vests for walking when deer-hunting season opened next.
We had our first dusting of snow on October 24th.
By November 16th, the first real snowfall hit us, and again, even harder, four days later. Thanksgiving day the temperature did not rise about above 15 degrees.
It is time for us to leave. We are saying our goodbyes to my mother, loading the van and hooking the car to the trailer hitch to head south to our next destination: New Orleans.
Before we go, I’d like to remember the changing seasons on the pond.
Listen as Johnny Cash & Lynn Anderson tear it up.
Where we are today.