Opinion

The sounds of late summer

On a recent bike ride, with goldenrod and Queen Anne’s lace lining the roads of the open countryside, the singular sound of late summer was all I could hear. What was it? The chirping of crickets.

Turns out that crickets use their wings and not their legs to create the sound we hear. We don’t hear them till August, because crickets haven’t developed enough to be able to make the sound before that. And why do they do it? It’s the males, and they do it to try to attract a mate.

It’s a relaxing sound, whether sitting on your porch, or gliding along on a bike, but it is also a sign that the lion’s share of “summer weather” is behind us (though once in a while we will get that late-season hot spell, such as happened in 2010, when northern Maine soared into the lower 90s for four straight days, from Aug. 29 through Sept. 1).

Heat is especially unwelcome during pickin’ time, so let’s keep any late-season heat away, and here’s hoping for a great crop this year.

As we tend to the fields, the trees will start to undergo their magical transformation into a sea of red and gold and orange, our annual autumn color bonanza. Last year we were almost a week late with peak color, but to me, peak doesn’t always matter. I always like to point out that it’s that *one* tree that can really catch your eye. One must look both “narrow” and “wide”. One fun thing to do is to take pictures of a maple as it goes from green to colorful to leaf loss. A picture per day from the same vantage point is a really cool thing to do.

Once we get the color going, you might want to take a hike, and on the chance you did not know this, there is a beautiful new trail, built by a great, hardworking crew, at Maine’s oldest State Park, our own Aroostook State Park.

This trail makes getting to the top much easier than it used to be for people who had trouble with the steep portions of the north peak ascent. So if you have stayed away for that reason, I urge you to check it out. It is called the Notch Trail, and goes up through the saddle between North and South Peaks, There are wooden bridges that criss-cross a stream. Go slowly in this area to listen to the water flowing when the stream has water in it. It’s a real treat. And the views from the top in any season, and especially in autumn, are breathtaking.

You can stop on the way to North Peak at a well-built, three-sided shelter, where you have a great view towards Mars Hill. North Peak is just a short distance from there, and offers views of Haystack Mountain to the west, Presque Isle to the north, and Easton to the east-northeast.

After our color show, the seasons will march on, and we’ll start to get ready for our famous County winters. To me, the transition toward winter really begins when I start noticing Orion’s belt, prominent in the eastern evening sky, starting in November.

In November, we start to hunker down for winter, and we also prepare for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving week this year will mark 43 years since the the Great pre-Thanksgiving snow of ’74. If anyone has any shots from the ’74 storm, please scan and send to my email address, which is right after the end of this column. Or send physical photos to me at 12 Brewer Road, PI 04769. Please let me know if you want them back. Thank you.

So, about the storm: Thanksgiving that year was on a Thursday. Well, Monday of that week saw a moderate snowfall of 4.2 inches at Caribou. But on Tuesday, they got hammered with 14.8 inches. Wednesday, there was a bit more, 1.4, for a total of 20.4 inches. I’ve spoken to a number of people about this storm and they report totals well higher than Caribou’s.

Certainly a Thanksgiving to remember.

Ted Shapiro holds the Broadcast Seal of Approval from both the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association. An Alexandria, Va. native, he has been chief meteorologist at WAGM-TV since 2006. Email him at  tshapiro@wagmtv.com.

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