Yesterday marked the end of our 7th week since arriving in Maine. It’s hard to believe we have already been here almost as long as we were at the beach, and longer than the time from when we found this house to when we left Tennessee.
I had hoped to get here and immediately start hiking everywhere we could find. Instead, I sprained my ankle badly enough the night we got here that I had to go to the ER to make sure it wasn’t broken. Welcome to your new home, right? So instead of hitting the trails–or even just exploring the 16 acres we now own, I have spent a lot of the last 7 weeks nesting and making a lot of impulse buys. Furniture, since we hardly took anything with us. A spontaneous trip to Boston so we could get shelves/storage at IKEA. Chickens, and then more chickens (we have 16 now, double the most we had at any time last year). We finally added a dog to our chaos.
One thing I have managed to control, is the amount of money spent on gardening/landscaping. Being in a new growing climate is, honestly, the hardest part of Maine so far. I’ve lived in zone 7 for almost my entire life, and it’s where I learned to garden. And more than that, it’s where I made all of my observations on the passing of the seasons.
Daffodils bloom in February. Trees start getting their buds in March, and by the end of the month the azaleas and dogwoods are usually in full bloom. Yoshino cherry blossoms and Bradford Pears dot the highways like clouds, and petals collect in parking lots until it looks like snow. By Beltane, the earth is alive and everything is green.
Up here near Bangor, Maine…not so much. People now venture outside holding their breath for ramps and fiddleheads. Last week there were daffodils everywhere when I drove into town. The massive azalea bush we have on our property is only just now starting to flower. Trillium stretches out of the piles of oak leaves, crimson flowers winking the first hints of color. Our yard is apparently covered in Canada Mayflower, or at least something that looks a lot like it.
And we are only just starting to see green on the trees.
Years ago, after Billy and I took our first trip up here, I commented on the chill and rain of early June, “Perhaps the weather gods of Maine are just more severe. They haven’t been softened by humidity the way the gods of the south have.”
I can say, the weather gods of the south have just as much vengeance as those up here. Humidity may soften the edges, but it is also suffocating, and in recent years some summers felt like were were drowning in the air. Tornadoes blow through new areas every year, laying waste to homes and communities. Plants suffer by late August, languishing in the heat. Daily thunderstorms bring lightning strikes and fallen trees.
The climate up here is just different.
And yet, this is home. The kids put on their wet suits and play in the creek, if they even care about being cold. We used Sebastian’s birthday as an excuse to add a few things to the yard that will give them plenty of physical outlets for their energy. We climb the foot of Little Chick Hill without leaving our property, exploring boulders. I am learning to identify trees by their bark. How to tap birches. Where to find fiddleheads and which ones are edible. Spring comes more slowly, but with that slowness is the time to observe and learn.
And as my ankle heals, we will hike. With our new companion, when the trails are not ice-covered, when the days are longer and there is green to be seen.
We are now in the dominion of the sun, and I look forward to delighting in it.