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by Esther J. Perne
Hello, fall! Hello, patches of color climbing the hills. Hello, energizing air. Hello, loons rafting together before leaving for open winter waters and human snowbirds at the post office filing forwarding addresses.
Hello, small scholars with new shoes and senior scholars with new smiles and all the scholars in between who we say go back to school but are really going forward.
Hello, woodpiles waiting for burning and boats ready for winterization.
Hello, best secret in the world: the fall season in the Belgrades, fall in central Maine, fall throughout the State.
Fall is the time when the clock of change starts ticking. Not the change of "fall forward" and be confused until spring and confuse everyone else by showing up unnaturally early, but the clock that says time to clean out the refrigerator and shut it down or time to clean out the refrigerator and fill it up.
The clock of fall suggests tucking a wool hat in with the swim gear or packing a hot drink in the thermos instead of a cold one.
And the clock of fall dares, absolutely dares, the eating of ice cream in late afternoon at an outdoor picnic table.
Fall is when outdoor activities are best at high noon instead of avoided at high noon and when lingering outdoors edges toward earlier in the day.
Most of all fall is a beautiful way for nature to say winter is coming and there's still time for the time-out check list, the one that suggests hiking, biking, planting spring bulbs, yard sale-ing, gleaning the garden, cleaning the windows and much more.
Or, according to the message of fall, there's time for the fitness-oriented projects (to refer to them positively) of yardwork, closing camps, hauling watercraft, securing tarps, clocking distances to year-round locations of food and beverage and chatting with weary but satisfied seasonal business owners saying "So long" to a good season.
Fall does not necessarily mean goodbyes, except perhaps as a courtesy to a favorite lake, since it's only a matter of a season or two before it's summer again.
Until then...hello, fall!