Intertidal: Enjoy the transition to autumn with walks along Midcoast trails
By Susan Olcott – The Times Record
I blame it on seasonal shifts, which is the topic of this column, but I wanted to provide an apology for the incorrect publishing of last week’s column. You may have noticed that it was about spring fish migration and that seemed a bit out of place in September. Perhaps it is appropriate, however, given the column that was intended for last week, which is as follows …
We have officially said goodbye to summer, passing the ominous Sept. 22 — a day and transition I always resist. The end of season’s whipping winds helped a bit, however, as they signaled a shift from the summer’s equilibrium to the imbalance of the air temperature as it cools, and the water hangs on to its summer’s heat a bit longer. I, too, find myself outside in every possible sunny moment, absorbing every bit of solar radiation in an effort to stay fueled by it for the rest of the year. It is the cooling air temperature that whips up the winds common at this time of year, and that also perhaps makes us feel whipped up and out of balance ourselves. The winds also help to accelerate my acceptance that it is … fall.
Once I’m able to shift gears, there is an energy to the fall that I love — the energy of the wind, the energy of kids getting back to school, the energy of people getting boats and docks out of the water. Summer’s more relaxed pace, exacerbated often by the slowing effect of heat, picks up. This is true not only for the activities that we have to do but also true for what we do for fun. Fall is a time when many people come to Maine not to sit on the beach but instead to hike along trails or bike along quiet roads.
While leaf peeping season is not limited to the coast by any means, the waterfront is, in my opinion, the most beautiful place to see the changes in color. Those changes happen not only in the trees but also in the sky and the color and texture of the water. The sensory experience of it is truly overwhelming. It is a perfect time to seek out some of the coastal access points that you might not have yet discovered. And, with cooler temperatures, a walk along a trail is more appealing. We are fortunate in Midcoast Maine to have an array of trails that offer views out onto the water for those willing and able to walk a little way out of their way. Many of these trails exist thanks to Maine’s network of land trusts that aim to preserve access to nature for people to enjoy and to protect those habitats and resources for both recreational and economic benefits to the surrounding towns.
In Brunswick, we have the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust that does an amazing job of continuing to build not only its trails and access points but also its public programming that is aimed at educating people about the environments that BTLT protects. There is specific information about all of the trails on the BTLT website (btlt.org). A few of my specific favorites that offer ocean peeks include the Maquoit Bay Conservation Land trail, the Skolfield Preserve off Harpswell Road and the trails at Woodward Point. Another great resource is the guide that Brunswick’s Rivers and Coastal Waters Commission put together that shows the town’s coastal access points along with helpful information about how to be a responsible member of a coastal community and the importance of taking care of our resources. The guide is available on the RCWC page of the town website (brunswickmaine.org); you can also pick up a copy at the Brunswick Hannaford or at the Town Office. Just across the bridge in Topsham is the Maine Coast Heritage Trust office, a group that also works to protect coastal properties including islands both locally and throughout the state. They operate the Maine Land Trust Network, which is comprised of over 80-member land trusts that coordinate on their efforts and share resources.
So, while I will continue to resist the end of summer each season, I am grateful for nature’s nudge to get out and explore the many properties that are protected for everyone to enjoy.