It was a good September here in Down East Maine. The dappled woods remained mostly crispy green, there was a bumper crop of Queen Anne’s Lace to brighten the browning fields; several good rains swelled the mossy streams into a state of merriment, and clear air made the coastal vistas breathtaking. It often was thrilling just to travel along our country lanes.
September also was a good month for birds. Our favorites were the Greater Yellowlegs Sandpipers high-stepping like drum majors on the low tide muck; the molting male wood ducks waiting to grow back enough feathers to accompany their svelte spouses southward, and the procrastinating female Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds that stayed here too long and had to strain to get nectar from the selfish late summer flowers.
In the cute-but-too-many category, our White-Tailed Deer fawns seemed to gambol more and more as the temperatures cooled and our Red Squirrels seemed to get more foul-mouthed when we interrupted their food-storing duties.
More important, this September produced a profusion of specialized migrating Monarch Butterflies — the last batch of the summer that, unlike prior batches, would travel to southern California and Mexico to preserve their species. We saw the full cycle of their creation in the month — eggs on milkweed>caterpillars>chrysalises>emerging butterflies that fluttered to the ground and then flew up and away.
While we’re wandering the animal kingdom, we should mention that, for the fist time in decades, we saw a Northern (DeKay’s) Brown snake here this September. We also had our usual reptile and amphibian neighbors, especially American Toads and Painted Turtles.
The waterfront was very busy this September. The annual WoodenBoat Sail-In for schooners was again a wonderful spectacle in Great Cove.
Many private sailboats visited the Cove last month, including the famous Alera, the Herreshoff-designed racer launched in 1904:
Naskeag Harbor, on the other side of our narrow peninsula, is where fishing vessels come to roost and visit the mid-harbor lobster smack and bait hut.
Many berries were latecomers this year due to a wet and chilly spring. Blackberries hit their delicious prime in September and Viburnum berries came and went before the plants’ leaves turned red. Unfortunately, invasive Asian Bittersweet berries were in profusion. On the other hand, our Winterberry plants and Mountain Ash trees were bubbling with berries.
Other flora that give September its character included Queen Anne’s lace waving in the wind; Bunchberry leaves blushing in the shadows; Beach Rose hips looking like squid, and Bull Thistles exploding.
September also was a very good month for Asters, both wild and cultivated. In the gardens, Morning Glories lived up to their names, and Dahlias were exquisite.
Our “wild apples” from the old trees of abandoned orchards and farms are a September standard. They provide cider for many people and survival in the winter for many of our wildlife.
Speaking of trees, September is the month that some maple trees begin their fall turning, while others remain vibrantly green., enabling us to better appreciate the seasonal transition.
The closing of the WoodenBoat School’s classes always is among the most poignant September moments. In Great Cove, the School’s perky small sailboats were led docilely ashore, washed, and nestled into their winter quarters. Their indestructible moorings were draped outside to brave winter storms in rough splendor.
As the School’s boatbuilding classes were ending, some of the student-built boats were put on display for sale to the public and others were stored in shelters.
Finally, September is the month of the Harvest Moon. This year, that moon was more distant than it has been for many Septembers, but the night was clear and the effect was magical.
(All images above were taken in September 2019 in Brooklin, Maine.)