SANDY STOTT PHOTO

SANDY STOTT PHOTO

After the time change, the fall gets down to business. We are, it’s finally clear, on our way to winter solstice. A lot must be packed into each shorter-lit day. Including the day’s walk or run, foot-travel that usually takes me to one or another of our town’s woodlands. But it’s November, and, even as my motion will never be confused with that of a deer, I decide against being sudden movement in the woods.

Instead, I bust out my gaudy orange knit hat and join Pennellville’s walkers and runners. There, at varying distances on roads that often cross fine, expansive open fields, which roll and slope finally to the sea, I can see my colorfully capped brethren. We look like odd variants of a flightless bird species — Orangeheaded Avoidus — that migrates to and through Maine every November, when deer and woods-walkers know enough to make themselves scarce. It is, after all, hunting season.

Part of Pennellville’s November appeal lies in its clear sight-lines. It’s easy to see what’s what and who’s who across its broad fields. Then, there’s the light. November’s slanting sun offers some of the year’s best, albeit brief, light. There is in that light both a transparency and nosiness absent during the seasons more usually thought of as well lit. The leaves are down and the sun rides close to the horizon for much of the day; its fingers then slide in under branches and stones that are often shadowed. Walkers see then little villages of stones or thickets of woods or grass invisible throughout the rest of the year.

Then there is the fine, cold quality of that light. The water’s been wrung from the air, and whatever muzzy headedness fog and humidity have brought on has vanished. Clear-headed and cold-braced, I feel that light as an infusion of energy. The days and their light are also short enough to ask that we savor what there is. It is a rare, closely held light, unlike the profligate scatter of summer.

All of these November virtues are available everywhere if we look for them, but they are especially abundant in Pennellville, in large part because a series of land-conservation easements have helped maintain the sort of open space and big sky that favor light and sight. A scan of the Brunswick- Outdoor map (link: http://www.brunswickme.org/wpcontent/ uploads/2017/03/Brunswick-Outdoor-071416_ reduced.pdf) shows us in brown relief just how much open space is protected near the sea. These easements are not invitations to walk onto that land; it’s still privately held. But they are guarantees that what you see won’t be the gradual or sudden incursion of housing clusters that tend to mushroom in such beautiful lands. And so, even as you walk or run the roads (which, happily, also have sparse traffic and soft, wide shoulders), your eyes can stray across large, open fields.

Each easement has its own set of restrictions, in essence a little set of land-laws for the parcel. Some, for example, make room for hunting; others do not. But I also remind myself that whatever the rules of a particular easement, a Mainer’s baseline November expectation is one of orange caution. Even on the most public and posted land, Brunswick’s Town Common, I’ve seen a hunter materialize from a copse. Whether he was aware or unaware that he was on public land posted against hunting seemed beside the point at that moment, much less important than the eyecatching orange hat saying, “Look at me” atop my head.

That this November caution in the woods sends me to the open spaces and big sky of Pennellville seems good solution.

One pleasing Pennellville walk begins where Pennellville Road leaves it junction with Middle Bay Road. There by a soccer field locally called the Field of Dreams, there’s a pull-off for parking. From there, it’s about 2 miles to the water at Simpson’s Point. I often walk or run this as an out-and-back.

Sandy Stott is a Brunswick resident and chair of the town’s Conservation

Commission. He writes for a variety of publications and has a book, Critical Hours

— Search and Rescue in the White Mountains, due out from University Press of New England in the spring of 2018. He may be reached at [email protected]


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