A large fly was buzzing around The Coop yesterday. It was one of those flies that come out on beautiful October days, stupid and heavy with fatigue from the changing temperatures. It swerved slowly around and I swatted it; it fell to the ground. Not yet dead, it took off and went into the living room, never to be seen or heard from again.
The fly was annoying and not worthy of further discussion, but it reminded me of why the last few weeks of October are the best times to travel north to Maine and explore the places one must avoid in “peak summer.” During the season, every magical Maine place is swarming with a different type of fly, affectionately called the tourist or rusticator. These flies swerve around from Memorial Day until Columbus Day, cramping roads, beaches, and scenic wonders. Then, with a frost and a few falling leaves, they close up their camps and summer homes and head back to their own countries, not to be seen or heard from again until the following May.
The dying daylight stuns the feeble day trippers, too. A sturdy and determined day traveler from south of the border could still successfully cover some sacred Ayuh ground; where there’s a will, there’s a way. Just the other day, someone asked me what my three favorite Maine day trips were for a late October day. While it’s hard to pick just three, my heart always brings me to the “Midcoast” area; here are three places I have successfully motored to for late autumn day trips.
The Olsen House, Cushing
This stark house, setting for the iconic Andrew Wyeth painting Christina’s World, is slightly off the beaten path of U.S. Route 1 in Thomaston. Although the house is closed for the season, visitors may walk around the grounds or sit on the front step and wonder Wyeth-ly. A late afternoon stop at Moody’s Diner for pie and coffee is just the right amount of fuel needed to make it back across the Piscataqua River Bridge.
Morse Mountain, Phippsburg
A comfortable two-mile hike leads to a quiet sandy beach, perfect for a picnic or a beach nap. Better yet, try both. Although short on amenities, Morse Mountain is long on tranquility and such privation as carrying out one’s garbage is a minor sacrifice.
Reid State Park, Georgetown
Reid State Park is on the next peninsula east from Morse Mountain. Sentimental fool that I am, this place is chock full of childhood memories of sunshine, charcoal briquettes, and Coppertone. My father’s summer vacation always promised at least one or two trips to Reid State Park and now as an adult, it seems even more beautiful, with its miles of roads and paths to explore. The creosote-coated board walks have been replaced, but if I squint my eyes in the fading daylight, I can almost see my father’s Plymouth Gran Fury in the parking lot.
Ah, Maine, my beloved country.
Don’t listen to Tee Vee weather puppets who say the foliage is past its peak. It’s stunningly beautiful right now and there are no flies left. Shuffle through some falling leaves, pull up a chair, and let me pour you a steaming cup of The October before you head out on your journey.