Opinion

Getting a bit chilly, just right for a walk in the woods

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The woods are getting a bit chilly.

I know I’m used to hot summer days, but we seem to be running out of them. It’s getting to be long-pants weather, especially if you’re out walking in those cooling woods.

I used to wear long pants and ankle-high shoes, seemed like the thing to do in the cooling fall season. Now I just wear long pants and regular shoes, canvas walking shoes if it’s not too cool. Leather ones if it is.

I remember hurrying to keep up with Jim and Clarence on a fall hunting trip. My boots were a bit heavy as was my gun. But in those days I felt required to wear them. Now I don’t bother with boots, either they’re too heavy or I’m getting too weak in my old age. (The boots, not me, must be getting too heavy.)

But I do wear heavier shoes, not heavy but regular shoes, you know, leather and soled soles. The heavy shoes somehow feel better as the weather cools.

I wear a jacket too as the weather cools. A fall (meaning not a heavy winter one) jacket feels good as the weather cools. I sometimes come across a smallish critter, such as a rabbit or a groundhog. I assume they’re growing their fall jackets.

As the weather cools, it really feels good to be bouncing along in yonder woods with a jacket and warmer shoes.

The only negative part of those past autumns is that school had started. Having to get up and trot off to school took some of the fun out of autumn. But it didn’t negate that pleasure of a walk in the fall woods. It seemed like teaching was what I was supposed to be up to on most fall days. But weekends were more fun, I had all day to march around in those woods, leaves crackling underfoot, cool days making it easier to keep walking, sometimes with a friend.

Trees had or were shedding their leaves, so I could see better on those cool fall days. Tourists had all left the area for wherever they hailed from, which also made those cool fall walks more pleasant. I wasn’t forever running into those folk, who were here for a vacation, and who knew everything.

Now, I started out in Maine as a tourist. I’m not making fun of those fine folk from away. I’m just glad I’m no longer one of them. I can even fake a Maine accent for a few words after these 37 or so years in the Pine Tree State. I just don’t bother most of the time.

I’m sitting here thinking of which fall paths I’ll take, when I get around to doing that somewhat strenuous activity. I’ll stay away from that short path on the southwest side of Mount Battie, where I slipped a good bit in the fall. I prefer not to slip a lot — or at all. Other paths I’ve been on are not as steep and provide great fall walking. The walks I recall from the past that were easiest are the walk along a carriage road in Acadia National Park and the walk along a paved road in the fall near Turner.

I tend to stay closer to home for those fall walks, as it seems a bit silly to drive clear up to Baxter State Park to go for a fall walk on a fairly level path. I’ve walked a good bit on the paths at Birdsacre over in Ellsworth, as I used to live in that town which meant a short trip to that area.

There are shorter paths near here as well, which is probably where I’ll end up this fall with my leather shoes and fall jacket.

A short walk in the fall, kicking leaves and keeping an ear and eye out for hunters, is a good walk.

And most towns in Maine have short trails.

Just right for a leaf-scuffling walk in the woods.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at lesstraveledway@roadrunner.com.

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