A Tour in Time through Maine’s Many Seasons

By: Mark Bloomer

 

How many seasons does northern Maine really have? We are familiar with the four basic seasons of Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn, but in actuality there may be as many seasons as there are months. Each season brings a unique mood, and in fact each season brings its own beauty though one may argue that the beauty of some seasons is a bit more subtle than that of others.

 

The year begins in the depth of winter. January is the coldest month, and the polar front where most of the big storms track is usually well to the south. Smaller storms along the arctic front bring frequent light snowfalls to our area, and the early nights are often accompanied by the glitter of a light snowfall twinkling around the lamplights. By morning, ice crystals can often be seen scintillating in the light of the slowly rising sun.

 

February is another very cold month, but the days are getting slightly longer and the sunshine getting slightly stronger. The small clipper type storms that were frequent in January seem a bit less frequent, and the deep cold air of mid to late winter seems to bring longer periods of clearer air. But February's storms can be intense as the jet stream becomes more prone to amplification.

 

Clear days in March can bring gusty winds and drifting snow as the stronger sunshine creates more atmospheric mixing.  However, the coldest bite of winter is over and by mid March the snow pack is beginning to soften. A clear calm day can combine direct sunshine with the sunshine reflecting off the snow to bring a warm whisper of early spring. But March is still winter, and significant winter storms are still common.

 

April is a month of transition that perhaps can be described as moody, messy and magical. The old blanket of snow recedes allowing a wet and muddy earth to be reborn from its deep winter slumber. Swollen rivers carry millions of tons of snowmelt back down to the sea. Fog can grip the forest valleys like a heavy coat of slush. A mild sunny day may bring cheers of spring only to be followed by a day of wind and sleet. But by late in the month a velvety green begins to glow through the winter weary lawns as true spring appears to be nearing.

 

May is the month when brown becomes green and the emerald color of new life spreads across the fields and forests. Ferns begin emerging as fiddleheads and dandelions dot the lawns with a touch of gold. Comfortably warm days become more the norm than the exception. Sunny mornings often turn to partly cloudy days as puffy cumulus clouds sprout across the sky.

 

By June the land is lush and green. The strong June sunshine can quickly warm the earth, and the warming air near the earth's surface can easily bubble into thundershowers. Many trees are in blossom early in the month. The pink and purple spires of lupine begin to emerge by mid month, and by the end of the month fireflies can be seen twinkling along the country roads.

 

July is the warmest month of the year. The fields are adorned with puffs of potato blossoms and the skies are dotted with puffy cumulus clouds. Local communities are brought together in colorful summer festivities. Vacationers seek the serenity of Maine's rivers, lakes and coastline. A sleepy fog often tags along the downeast coast as moist air chills over cold ocean waters.

 

In August weeds are tall and beginning to go to seed as the yellow glow of goldenrod emerges from the fields. Mosses thicken and mushrooms open. Weather systems can be slow moving and rainstorms sometimes long and soggy. But the air remains fresh and pleasant throughout the northern summer, leaving the hazy heat and humidity of midsummer to the states further south.

 

By September nights are getting longer and mornings a bit cooler. Days begin with a heavy dew in the old grasses and swirls of steam can be seen spiraling over lakes and rivers. Damp misty mornings can give way to splendid afternoons of deep blue skies and late summer tranquility. Colors of crimson and gold begin to paint the hills and valleys as the leaves start to turn.

 

October brings frosty mornings and noticeably cooler days as gusty northwest winds carry a fresh chill over the landscape. Fields and forests have a spicy aroma of freshly fallen leaves and herbals gone to seed. Calm days can be strangely silent with the buzzing bugs and crickets gone. Late October may bring the season's first snowfall, but the still warm ground melts the snow away in just a couple days.

 

November is moody at best and stormy at its moodiest. Low clouds often shroud the skies over a sleepy landscape of amber and beige. Strong storms lifting north through Canada have the potential for bringing powerful winds. Snowfalls begin to dress the ground in a fresh blanket of white crystals, but mixtures of sleet and freezing rain often end the early snows in a wintry glaze. A warm fire and the smell of nutmeg and gravy can bring the cheers of the coming holidays through the chill of Novembers cold and gray.

 

December days are short and cold with the sun low on the horizon. Orange sunbeams of the early setting sun contrast with long blue shadows in the fresh winter's snow. Chickadees are busy gathering enough seeds each day to provide fuel for their tiny bodies to keep warm at night. Christmas lights enchant the long dark evenings with their charming glow of colors and sparkles. Winter has arrived again, and the land has gone to sleep under a new blanket of snow.

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