Before we moved to Maine in 2007, our biggest concern was whether we could handle the cold and snowy winter weather that is legendary in New England. In the high desert of Southern California where the temperature only rarely dipped below freezing and snow was an infrequent visitor in winter, it was definitely more of a novelty than a concern. We could get a dusting once or twice each winter only to have it quickly disappear as the morning sun melted away any evidence that it had fallen. But those brief peaks at a more defined change in seasons served to whet our interest in a retirement move to a location where that was guaranteed. But we decided that if we were serious about wanting to relocate to a radically different climate, it would be a good idea to test our mettle by spending a month during the coldest and snowiest part of winter in a rental cabin near the area where we were interested in relocating. We bought a couple of pairs of cross-country skis, warm winter coats, flannel-lined jeans (who knew there was such a thing), and some winter boots and spent a wonderful month exploring this place that has become our home for more than a decade.
Before returning to California, we found a log cabin that we fell in love with just across the lake from the little rental cabin. It was on a wooded lot with access to the water. Whether serendipity or providence, our rental cabin landlord just happened to be a licensed real estate agent that was more than happy to open an escrow and handle the paperwork so that we could affect the purchase from California. And that is just what we did. The downside was that we had only seen this property covered in snow and while we could see the “postcard” qualities of that curb appeal, we really had no clear idea of what lay beneath that white mantle. Four months later when we turn into the driveway in a rental truck with just enough furniture and belongings to get us started, the log cabin was the same as we remembered, but the property looked very different. In winter, only the evergreens had foliage. Now the yard, and really the whole neighborhood was adorned with maple, oak, ash and birch trees full of leaves in varying shades of green, reds and yellows. They not only provided color and shade but also a welcoming home to birds, squirrels and other forest creatures.
Our first autumn in Maine we were really looking forward to the fall color season and the “leaf peeping” opportunities that the abundance of these trees throughout the state would provide. And we weren’t disappointed. It is a magical time of year as the days shorten, the leaves begin to lose their chlorophyll, change color, and eventually fall softly (or not so softly on a windy day) to the ground. The whole process takes several weeks and generally peaks here around the middle of October. That means that lots and lots of leaves on the ground that need to be raked, blowned, mulched, or otherwise relocated or burned. Initially we bagged or burned the bulk of the fallen leaves, but have learned there are more environmentally sensitive ways to dispose of them. Thankfully our property has several wooded area that we can “relocate” the leaves. But it is important that we get the bulk of them off the lawn areas as the heavy winter snows sitting for months on a bed of leaves can cause “snow mold” or brown spots. It is a lot of work and sometimes it is only a couple of hours before more leaves have fallen or blown over from a neighbor’s yard to make you question why you even bother in the first place. While I don’t really mind the work, I can’t help but think back to a big old fruitless mulberry tree we had in our backyard in California. One year, while still green and with little warning, it shed all it’s leaves in a matter of hours. Now that was efficient.