In a few weeks the cooler temperatures of fall will start rolling in and I am itching for outdoor firepits and chilly nights, sipping hot chocolate and eating s’mores.

Such an American thing, you say? In fact, during the rare rainy seasons in Somalia, we celebrated the start of rain by breaking out jackets and hats, building a fire and praying for God to give us the chilly air that drew us outside all night. Those days are long gone for Somalia.

Abdi Nor Iftin is a Somali-American writer, radio journalist and public speaker. He lives in Yarmouth.

Maine’s fall season is a reminder of why I should appreciate what the short season brings us. Every year I try to take in as much of the season as I can. This includes random drives around southern Maine to catch the foliage. The state’s prime foliage destinations require long drives, unreachable for most of Maine’s immigrants. Mount Katahdin and Moosehead Lake are more than three hours from places we live in the state. But it is worth the long drive, if possible, to see the magnificent colors. Everyone in Maine should experience the fall magic; planning for it should start now.

My first experience of the luscious red, orange and yellow foliage in Maine was in fall 2014, a couple of months after arriving in the state. I was thankful for a friend who lives in northern Maine who took me on a weekend drive just to see the foliage. I remember calling my mother to tell her how quickly things changed in my new home. I could not help but compare the foliage colors to the Somali elderly men when they dye their beards red and orange as a sign of their higher ranks in society.

“Mom, it looks like the trees are our elders now,” I said.

During the rare rainy seasons in Somalia people often said it was God smiling down and rewarding us for some good deeds. We danced and partied all night by the fire. I wonder what my mom would think of the Maine foliage, the chilly nights and the colors? Maybe God is rewarding us Mainers for great deeds we did during summer?


If you can’t catch the foliage because it may be far away, don’t forget there are other fall activities worthy of your time. There are many orchards around the state where people can pick apples. Fun activities such as Maine’s Wife Carrying Championship, cider pressing and scenic chairlift rides, among other things, are what make our state such a special place for all seasons for everyone.

There is not enough knowledge and information about the Maine outdoors for minority communities of Mainers. Those of us who are multilingual can help with guides and other information regarding leaf-peeping and other fall activities such as the Fryeburg Fair. Many New Mainers have experience in farming and animals, and the livestock at the fair includes goats, chickens, sheep and rabbits they can connect to.

I attended state fairs a few times, and what I sensed was that despite living in different continents, practicing different cultures and speaking different languages, there are many things that bring us together in a shared community, such as an appreciation for the environment, the love of animals and wilderness. If my mom was here and saw the Maine foliage and visited the fairs to see the display of agriculture and animals, I am sure she would say she had never thought of America this way.

This fall, we should take a break from politics and the upcoming elections and find time to catch the peak foliage. New Mainers deserve a break from people knocking at their doors asking for their vote this year.

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