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AUTUMN LEAVES, FESTIVALS, AND A PET-FRIENDLY RESORT
by Ed Wetschler
Hordes of fall foliage fans visit New England's mountain ranges in autumn, but Derrick Daly, head gardener at the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, near Portland, Maine, is partial to autumn on the coast. I've stayed at the Inn by the Sea, but only in summer, so I asked Daly about leaf peeper season at sea level.
What's autumn like in Cape Elizabeth?
October is one of the best months here, and not just because it's my birthday. Nights are cool, but the days are still warm. The grounds at the Inn are gorgeous: The trees are starting to change, and the gardens at the Inn still have plenty of flowers – New England aster, Buddleia, butterfly bushes, goldenrod -- and they even attract the tail end of the monarch butterfly migration.
I'm surprised it's still warm on the Maine coast.
Being on the water actually works in our favor. The ocean absorbs heat all summer, so the shore takes longer to cool off in fall than inland regions. Peak time for foliage here is on or around October 15. By then, some places inland are already getting snow.
You do not; you just need the right trees. The maple, oak, and Amelanchier (serviceberry) trees on and around Cape Elizabeth create great swaths of gold, orange, red, and reddish purple colors.
That sounds fine for mature people with sophisticated tastes, but what about me?
Local farms offer corn mazes and apple picking, and the Inn holds a pumpkin carving party for both guests and the locals on the Saturday before Halloween. This year, that's October 29th. The staff does the dirty work, cutting the pumpkin tops open and cleaning the insides. They also supply plastic utensils for kids. Lots of people make traditional pumpkin heads, but others carve wild, original, out-of-this-world pumpkins.
Alt pumpkins – I like that.
You'd like this, too: Fryeburg Fair, known as Maine's blue-ribbon classic, and the Cumberland County Fair, are old-fashioned farmers festivals with rides, crafts, country music, livestock, oxen pulling carts, and adorable sheep and bunny rabbits.
Then you should know that The Inn by the Sea is always dog-friendly, but in October, not only is the beach open to dogs, but for the last two weeks of the month the pool goes to the dogs. Literally.
Harvest on the Harbor, Maine's premier food and wine festival, also takes place in October. This Portland event features farm-to-table cuisine and a competition among four top Maine chefs, including Mitchell Kaldrovich from the Inn by the Sea.