Monday, October 31, 2016

The Rover's Return

Fall is coming slowly to an end. It really is our longest season here in Maine, starting in August when the leaves of swamp maples first begin to show color, and ending in late November or even December with the first nor'easter that falls and stays. That's nearly five months, some years. Spring is long too, from mud season in late March or early April to the first hot, humid weather in late June, but that's only about two to three months. High summer, with all the heat and heavy humidity, is usually less than two months, and sometimes less than one. I personally measure summer by the presence or absence of fireflies after dark. Winter can be very long here, though, depending on when that first lasting snowfall occurs.

For which we're grateful. It keeps the riffraff away. But, considering that winter in Maine means snow, and lots of it, you have to have everything ready, or you'll be caught short.

I didn't mention either road repair or blackfly season, both of which overlap these other, more formal seasons, and both of which can hinder your movements more than the weather does, except, perhaps, for snow.

And then there's hunting season, the cusp of which is Maine's month-long rifle season for whitetail deer, now upon us.

The leaves are almost completely gone from all the trees except a few beeches, birches, alders, and tamarack. The tomato plants are black from frost, although there are still edible berries on some, trying desperately to ripen. I picked the last of the eggplant, tiny little things that Aimee says will be bitter, and a couple of blue Hubbard squash. I thought I'd make ratatouille with the eggplant.

We take nice walks with the dogs, but now we have to worry about deer hunters. Since our road is a dead end, and because the dogs bark whenever a truck comes, it's usually easy to know when there's a hunter in our woods. It is possible, although not likely, for a particularly motivated hunter to come in from the other side of the woods, nearly two miles away on the Bog or Village roads, but no-one ever does. Hunters are not usually that athletic. But even so, we all wear orange, including the dogs, and don't stray from the gravel roads as we might have done earlier.

Edana doesn't know much about hunter safety, so she's unaware of the reason she has to wear a bright orange vest. But she likes pumpkins and apples and the apple juice we get from the orchard, and enjoyed her first Hallow'een last night at the village library, so fall is a hit.

I've been reminding her that it will snow one day soon to prepare her mentally. She probably will be happy, not sad, to see the fluffy white snow, even if it will restrict her movements further. She likes to watch kids sledding on TV, and her favorite book is "The Snowy Day".

With the advent of the white stuff in mind, though, I have as always been working down a long to-do list of pre-winter chores, now nearing completion. This process has been slower than usual because the only time I have to do this work now I have a kid is four or five hours on Saturday morning, when Aimee takes Roo first to swim class and then to do the week's shopping.

Time and money, money and time. The hardest job to get done was the Land Rover's muffler, not so much because it was hard mechanically, but because our finances were strained by the purchase of the trailer and the annual property tax bill. I had to wait nearly two months before I could afford the replacement. But it's done, and, after the usual two hours messing with annoyingly intermittent defunct lights and horn, the Rover is over at the local repair shop, ready for inspection, with two Camry wheels and snow tires for fitting in the back to boot. Afterwards, I'll take her to the local short stop and top off the gas for the winter. When it's back we'll fit the snow plow.

There's still a little fence to take down, as well as the greenhouse frame to fix, and the trailer to winterize (a new chore, that I have to teach myself to do), but these amount to less than two hour's work for next Saturday, and once the Rover Returns (slight "Coronation Street" pun there for you British readers!) and the plow is fitted, it can snow if it wants to.

We're ready.

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