Observing the changing seasons

By Ron Fryer
Special to The News

It seems that just yesterday we moved to Bridgton and into our old farmhouse. It had to accommodate Fran and me, our children, three felines, a pool table and a piano. The only requirement was five acres. These characteristics led us to a nice location with some nice extras as it turned out.

Over the years, the seasonal changes opened quite a new world from our previous urban and suburban homes. The difference from our coastal Massachusetts weather and the experiences in urban New Jersey and southeast Tennessee were quite a change.

I soon saw April 1 as the transition between winter and the next two seasons of the year. I became aware of flocks of robins showing up on the lawn successfully digging for worms as the snow melted and the ground thawed. The budding process of the flowers, bushes, and trees came slowly into play. Our pear and apple trees bud, flower and lose their petals. The huge lilac bushes join in and the bridle wreaths next. The huge iris bed is having a good year, as well as the many colonies that have shown up in various places. The wild roses transplanted not far from the iris bed are finally coming along well. They too are sending out colonies like the original wild ones we initially spotted across the street along the fieldstone wall. Everything grows in Maine; maybe a gross exaggeration to describes species but not new colonies, starting with lilacs. The lilacs replanted along the street are growing with their own maples, now topping them off like those seen on the tops of skyscrapers.

Of course, the deciduous trees follow, and seem to be advancing towards us in the backyard. The birds from away join the locals at the feeders and on the ground. Having been aware of some birds eating the pedals up in the apple tree, we noted the Bohemian Waxwing, Baltimore Oriole, Indigo Bunting, and Red-breasted Grosbeak. We first noticed the flowers and little branches moving and then we are able to distinguish the individual birds. Their presence is like the setting sun as it happens and it is over. I suspect that if we sit with our bird binoculars all day long we can find them more easily. Maybe we should do that next year. From another view, we can see the field slowly green over and start growing. Across the field the various deciduous trees are blossoming and filling in the edge first and working their way up the hillside. Soon the leaves are all in bloom and summer is upon us.

Every year, I have to remind myself to be aware of the length of the days three weeks either side of the summer solstice. It certainly isn’t like St. Petersburg, Russia, where they enjoy the midnight sun, but then we don’t have days where there is practically no sunlight in the deepest winter. But, our winter is another story in itself, five months long by my counting from Nov. 1 to March 31. We’ll save that description for the emotional highs — and lows — for another time. I do have to add that living in the country in Bridgton makes one aware of the seasonal changes. With our high civilization of industrial food, heated houses, air-conditioned cars, and enclosed malls and parking, we have lost touch with our inner self, that which grew out of our years as hunter-gathers.

About mid August — I tend to remember Aug. 15 — I detect a slight diminution in the intensity of the green of the leaves. From there until just after Columbus Day, we enjoy the color change in the leaves as the process goes on at different rates, depending on the tree species and elevation. Within a few days the rain and wind will start the removal of the dead leaves until sometime later with winter upon us, they will mostly blow away.

Ronald J. Fryer is a resident of Bridgton.

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