Sights and Sounds of Autumn in Maine

By Brenda Buchanan

The turning of the leaves took us by surprise this year.

Yellow and red and orange

The most beautiful season

After a long summer spent watering the garden we had modest hopes.

Too dry for good color, we thought. Wait ‘til next year. (Yes, Red Sox fans, we said that about more than the foliage.)

A few days into October the show began, startling us with its vibrancy.

Red maples flank a solider at Riverbank Park on Main Street in Westbrook

Red maples flank a solider at Riverbank Park on Main Street in Westbrook

The swamp maples led the pack, but that’s true even in lesser leaf years. Then the big maple in our front yard began to glow, a reddish-yellow beacon visible from the end of the street. By last weekend all of southern Maine was alight.

Red tree, blue sky

Red tree, blue sky

To celebrate the end of a marvelous, warm summer, here are some photos from our recent travels, with some lovely poems about the season as accompaniment.

First, a Maine poet, Knox County’s own Edna St. Vincent Millay, whose iconic The Death of Autumn captures the despair that can accompany the dying season of the year:

When reeds are dead and a straw to thatch the marshes,

And feathered pampas-grass rides into the wind

Like aged warriors westward, tragic, thinned

Of half their tribe, and over the flattened rushes

Stripped of its secret, open, stark and bleak,

Blackens afar the half-forgotten creek–

The leans on me the weight of the year, and crushes

My heart. I know that Beauty must ail and die,

And will be born again–but ah, to see

Beauty stiffened, staring up at the sky!

Oh, Autumn! Autumn! – What is the Spring to me?

Marshland adjacent to the Mousam River in Kennebunk

Marshland adjacent to the Mousam River in Kennebunk

On the October 10 Writer’s Almanac, Garrison Keillor read Wendell Berry’s poem by the same name, which evokes not only the visual but the auditory aspects of autumn:

  Now constantly there is the sound,

quieter than rain,

of the leaves falling. 

Under their loosening bright

gold, the sycamore limbs

bleach whiter.

 Now the only flowers

are beeweed and aster, spray

of their white and lavender

over the brown leaves.

 The calling of a crow sounds

Loud – landmark – now

that the life of summer falls

silent, and the nights grow.

A tree alight

A tree alight

Finally, Song For Autumn, by the marvel who is Mary Oliver, a poet whose connection with nature is second to none.

In the deep fall

don’t you imagine the leaves think how

comfortable it will be to touch

the earth instead of the

nothingness of air and the endless

freshets of wind? And don’t you think

the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,

warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come—six, a dozen—to sleep

inside their bodies? And don’t you hear

the goldenrod whispering goodbye,

the everlasting being crowned with the first

tuffets of snow? The pond

vanishes, and the white field over which

the fox runs so quickly brings out

its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its

bellows. And at evening especially,

the piled firewood shifts a little,

longing to be on its way.

The dunes at Ferry Beach in Scarborough

Fall dunes at Ferry Beach in Scarborough

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8 Responses to Sights and Sounds of Autumn in Maine

  1. Reine says:

    What a beautiful post! Thank you!

    Like

  2. Dick says:

    Lovely, Brenda. Thanks.

    Like

  3. Gram says:

    Wonderful. I love your poem choices.

    Like

  4. Vida Antolin-Jenkins says:

    Stunning pictures, moving words. An autumn benediction to start my morning.

    Like

  5. C.T. Collier says:

    How lucky that my trip to Maine was the first week of October! I enjoyed every colorful moment. Your photos are stunning!

    Like

  6. Beth Clark says:

    You photos and poems are beautiful and brought back many memories. Recently my granddaughter and I were looking up into a beautiful maple where a crow sat cawing. Three friends joined him unfazed by the humans below. It was a treat for eyes and ears.

    Like

  7. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing the glory of this season.

    Like

  8. Thanks for all of the comments, friends. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

    Like

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