Ten years ago we moved from Southern California to Maine. Both my husband and I had been born and raised in California, leaving the state for a few years in our early 20s for college and jobs. Although we didn’t know each other, we both returned to California in the mid-1970s where we met and later married. We settled in the high desert town of Acton, about an hour north of Los Angeles and raised two children while we worked full-time in busy, demanding jobs. Both of our children ended up accepting scholarships to colleges in New England where we visited them several times a year. Through these visits we discovered a place that was about as different as you could get from what we knew on the West Coast, both in weather and in lifestyle. And perhaps that was what made it so appealing. We ended up buying a log cabin on a lake in Maine. We moved here when we retired even though we had no friends or family within a thousand miles (save for our college kids who would soon be graduating and moving on with their lives and careers). It has turned out to be a great move for us but not without a few challenges, some that we expected and others that caught us by surprise.
Yes, it did take a while to become accustomed to the often long and cold winters. We needed a whole different wardrobe, not to mention tools like snow shovels and blowers. And winter, we learned, didn’t end with the arrival of spring, but with mud season, an ill-defined yet reliable season that arrives as temperature rise enough to melt any remaining snow but not enough to encourage the trees to bring forth their new foliage. As mud-season morphed into spring that first year, black flies and mosquitoes proved to be every bit the annoyance that we feared. But the landscape was beautiful and green and the lake beckoned, so we learned to “spray-up” before venturing out to take advantage of all that our new address had to offer. After Father’s Day the black flies all but disappear and the mosquitos are less bothersome during the warmer daytime hours. In the summer we spend the bulk of our days enjoying the lake, hiking the numerous nearby trails, and taking advantage of all the festivals, concerts and other activities that take place outside during the summer and early fall.
The one season that really didn’t surprise us was Autumn. The beauty of the vibrant fall colors as the leaves prepare themselves for the long cold winter to follow is legendary. And we have discovered after ten years in Maine that the legend is well deserved. We look forward to witnessing this display every year and avoid planning trips to ensure that we don’t miss the splendor. What compels us to stay close to home in October also inspires family and friends to visit us then. Since we settled here, we have welcomed several visitors into our home and shared the unique beauty of our adopted state. We are happy to show them the special places we have discovered on own, the roads less traveled and the lesser known locales that don’t appear in most guide books. Of course we always have lobster, something a trip to Maine wouldn’t be complete without. I just wish that most didn’t want to come right in the heart of the fall color season, when cruise ships clog the harbors along the coast and leaf peepers congest the roads. Those quiet October days that Don, our little cattle dog Sadie, and I wander the back roads together in our Jeep, create some of our most precious memories. But I also understand the draw of the season to our visitors and so we accommodate as many as we can. There is more than enough splendor to go around.