I don’t know about anyone else but these bright days and cool nights of September give me more motivation and enthusiasm than all of the hot, muggy days of summer combined. I am constantly amazed at how good I feel on these cold mornings, how ambitious I have become and how much I enjoy being outdoors and doing things that, just a few weeks ago, were to be avoided at all costs. Of course, like everyone else I do what needs to be done no matter how miserable the weather, but come September I’m up for just about anything, which works out to my advantage considering all the stuff I put on hold till the end of summer.
In just one day recently I mowed the lawn, split and piled a cord of wood, pulled weeds, cucumbers and squash plants from the garden, filled the wood rack beside the stove, cleaned the stove pipe (all the way to the top), helped a neighbor split another cord of wood and even spent a couple of hours working on a local ancient cemetery, cleaning headstones that hadn’t been touched since the 1840s. This compared to the average 90-degree day where I did well to simply get out of bed!
All of this energy and time being spent on chores is not entirely by chance, but the cooler temperatures definitely help me decide whether or not to work outside. In just a few weeks the annual general hunting seasons will begin, with everything from ducks to deer to pursue and there simply will not be time to waste on anything that requires a rake, shovel or broom. I understand the value and pride that goes into a clean house and yard but for the period from Oct. 1 through mid-December I’m all but certain to leave all of the mundane chores till Sunday – rain or shine.
Switching modes from fishing to hunting is not a simple matter. Putting one ton of gear away to clear the decks for another ton of equipment takes time, preparation and forethought – this is not the time for pruning, transplanting, thinning or puttering in the attic or garage. There will be winter enough for that. Right now I need to be sure my rifles, shotguns and bows are in top shape, tuned and ready to go; along with replenishing ammunition, targets, stands, blinds and all the other peripheral necessities I will need to enjoy another great fall hunting season in Maine.
Considering that I have been “getting ready” for fall since the late 1950s I’m pretty well versed in what needs to be done and how to do it. Now that I’m officially old enough for lifetime licenses all I need to do is purchase a few tags, duck stamps and other permits so I can go after my favorite critters with no concerns for the game warden.
After decades of this I already know enough to buy extra socks, gloves and hand warmers long when the go on sale in August. In fact, nearly everything I need that’s can be depleted, worn out or broken has been replaced at this point. Other than sharpening my trusty knives and ensuring that my pack has water, tea bags and a day’s worth of propane I’m good to go at the drop of a hat. I actually live out of my pack during the hunting season so it sits on my back porch, loaded and ready to go, well into January. I check every day to see what needs to be replaced (including batteries, water and snacks) and keep it well stocked so I can stay in the woods as long as possible – an important consideration as daylight hours begin to dwindle and the various hunting seasons come to a sudden end.
Included in my busy September schedule is a 30-minute window every morning and evening, preferably as the sun rises and sets, where all I do is sit on the back deck with a cup of hot tea or coffee and just enjoy the privilege of being in Maine where it’s cool, quiet, peaceful and serene. Take it from me; this kind of soothing ambience is not available in most other places on Earth. I have been to the far and wide corners of the world over my lifetime and I can honestly say that when you want to relax and unwind Maine is the only place to be. Other states and countries have their attractions, of course, but spending the first or last minutes of each day enjoying “the way life should be” is something none of us have or need to travel for; it’s right here in our own back yard.
At either end of the day I’m able to sit back and watch the honey bees sort through the corn tassels, observe the endlessly energetic hummingbirds sample and sip from every flower in the yard, and if I’m lucky I’ll be serenaded by chickadees, cardinals and nuthatches taking turns at the feeders. In the distance I’ll hear the calls of crows, ravens and passing loons. If the wind is right I’ll hear the nebulous, everywhere-at-once calls of the black-billed cuckoo, a bird that’s bigger, more common and less tolerant than the majority of my back-yard visitors. They’re easier to see when you don’t go looking for them – they are that shy.
On days when storms have passed or, in late afternoon, come threatening, it’s possible to hear absolutely nothing, particularly at sunset, when all the birds and animals have taken cover against the harsh weather they somehow know is coming. This is where Maine leads the world in serenity and contentment – clear, cool and still, not a sound to be heard; nothing to distract one from idle gazing. I often become so mesmerized by the silence that I come to with a jolt, shocked to find my cup empty, the sky dark and the stars already beginning to appear.
September is the perfect time to appreciate such benefits and we are in precisely the right place to enjoy it. Do what needs to be done this month but be sure to take some time for recharging your soul. It’s good for you – and it’s free!