Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Passing of Seasons - Dispatches from Maine

It is hard to imagine that only a few months ago Sabbathday Lake was covered in thick ice and snow, a few brightly painted bobhouses the only interruption in an otherwise broad expanse of white The lake’s evergreen perimeter shelters the quiet and dormant seasonal cottages, including this one on True’s Point.  Opened shortly after ice-out in late April or earlier May, the water and electricity are once again turned on as the cottage welcomes us back for another summer at the lake.

It is now early September.  Summer was only a few days old when we arrived at the beginning of July and now the season is beginning to wind down and soon autumn will be with us.  The fall colors are already showing themselves.  Many of the swamp maples are a deep crimson and the birch and oaks are beginning to turn.  The sugar maples are tinted red along the leaves’ edges and soon will they will be a brilliant red as the festival of colors reaches its peak in late September.  But it’s still summer for a few more days.  Autumn will be here soon enough.

I have been sitting on the deck in the evenings as dusk begins to arrive just a few minutes sooner each day.  All is quiet as it is most of the time at this hour.  A couple of kayakers passed by, and a canoe came by earlier as did a small skiff with two men slowly trolling for trout.  Our resident pair of loons scud up the center of the lake, occasionally diving only to surface at some unpredictable spot.  As the sun continues to sink I detect an unseasonably late mayfly hatch and the erratic flight patterns of bank swallows and bats as they intercept their quarry above the lake. Behind me, in the trees shading the cottage and along the ridge running along the spine of True’s Point, several mourning doves moan their sad song before they flush, the whistle of their wings bespeaking their flight to trees across the cove .  This is what I come to expect when I sit and look out at the lake on a summer evening.  The sun will soon be setting, sinking below the far wooded shore and roofs of the Shaker village above Loon Point. I am constantly amazed by the variety of vivid summer sunsets we have enjoyed here over the years. 

All too quickly it is September again, and we will be heading back home to Maryland at the end of the month.  Where has the time gone?  I am already building fires in the woodstove early in the morning and again before we turn in for the night to fend off the chill and damp that find their way inside.  Soon enough the cold weather will once again make it necessary to drain the pipes and seal the cottage up for another season.

In another few weeks there will be snow in the air and ice will begin to collect along the lake’s margins and across the deeper coves.  The lake takes on a completely different feel and appearance once winter sets in.  In more recent years my travels have brought me to Maine during the winter and on occasion I have stopped by True’s Point to check on things.   The two-track in from the town road is kept plowed as there are a couple year-round residents on the point.  Otherwise all is white and silent.  The only sound is the wind blowing across the ice, swelling through the creaking branches of trees, their colored leaves now buried under several inches of snow.

Standing on the plowed road at the top of the hill I look down at the cottage nestled at the water’s edge and imagine sitting out on the deck on a warm summer evening, watching the boaters and anglers working the water as the sun sets across the lake.  Soon it will be summer again as we continue to mark the passing of the seasons.

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