On the tips of Golden Leaves, he whispers.

To hear him, I step quietly onto the dewy front stoop in the early rises of a crisp August morning, and I watch the steam from my first cup of coffee escape into the sunny fog that rises above the river. He speaks softly through the panicked shrieks of the sparrows: gather! collect! forage! He murmurs in hints of yellow and orange flecks painted against the thick green canvas of summer’s end. He rolls with laughter as small shivering children covered in goose bumps revel in the last days of the outdoor pool. The morning sun struggles to warm the listless sunflowers swaddled in nighttime dew, and the evening chill brings hurried retreats for a comfy sweater. In the beginning, his presence may go unnoticed unless you truly listen. He walks lightly, almost floating above the ground without snapping twigs or crunching dried leaves, and on warm sunny days you’d never believe he’s lurking under the tall pines, waiting until sunset to fling his cool beard over the treetops.

Although false, mistaking the fields of goldenrods for wild summer flowers may give you a chance to inhale summer’s last perfume before the thick tang of autumn fills the air.

soft chilly whistle
I recognize your footprint
you’re always on time

Unlike the warm breath of spring and summer, Old Man Winter never makes us wait. Always prompt, fiercely predictable and forever on the trail of the painted maples, his icy kiss forces our heads into fleecy toques and our hands into woolen mittens.

Summer’s end brings short-lived days filled with raspberries and barefoot tree climbs.

These are the last moments to watch ants scuttle atop mushrooms.

Before we know it, the bikes and trikes buried beneath banks of white will have given way to sleds and boards.

Early yet for many, but for this corner of New England, he’s already wiped his feet on the mat and settled himself in the recliner for a long winter’s slumber. And yes, we’ve actually gone trick-or-treating in our snow pants before.
Renée Chalou

About Renée Chalou

Renée Chalou lives and raises her family in Presque Isle, where she owns a fitness center, LiveWell United. Her oldest son is in his second year at UMO, her daughter plans to attend UMPI in the spring and her youngest son is an active, happy 11 year old in 6th grade. From her life experiences as a homeschooling parent, blending a family, and transforming herself from an overweight, side-line mother to a competitive athlete mother and fitness leader in her community, she writes about what she knows: living life well even when it's not perfect. She writes about finding and clinging to the good even when it would be easy to focus on the bad, no matter what challenges life brings. Life in Northern Maine is wonderful, full of adventures and sub-zero temperatures. It's not for everybody and nobody claims it's easy. But it's a good life, it's hers and she'd like to share some of it with you.