It’s been a cloudy, raw couple of days. Not even seven in the evening and we have dusk, portents of things to come. The tree outside our office window, an early adopter, shows more red daily. Given the cranky day, I thought I’d take a moment and share something more about the Maine coast.
Last post I wrote about Granite Dreaming. Downeast Maine is all about granite. Sandy beaches are rare on that jagged coastline. The coast is complex, with innumerable inlets, bays, and peninsula. Often the land drops abruptly into the sea at a granite cliff face.
The tides run to the dramatic, although not as extreme as those found a tad further north in the Bay of Fundy. Docks rise and fall with the tides, as do the ramps that connect the fixed docks to the moorings. At low tide the pitch of the ramps can be truly breathtaking.
Mount Desert Island is home to Arcadia National Park. Actually the park is spread over several islands and peninsula. It is a place of great beauty and considerable danger. On weekends in mid to late summer it is packed with visitors. During the off-season, one may well have entire sections of the park to oneself. In December some of the park roads are closed, but much of the park is both accessible and empty.
Winter storms are truly awesome on the coast, where heavy rain, ice, snow, and high winds can make travel impossible. We trundle up and head for the shore, or stay inside and enjoy the storm in the comfort of the house. In the night the wind speaks through the evergreens, he snow swishing and brushing across he deck and against the windows. Should we tire of our own cooking, we may gather ourselves and head into town, if we can make it up the hill.
The coast is filled with reminders that ice-covered all this just twelve thousand years ago. The granite is scoured, showing the power of deep ice and loose stone to incised hard rock. The water is cold, although warming. The dominant tree cover is evergreen, although deciduous trees continue to make inroads, especially the birches and aspen.
The landscape is filled with stories: Penobscot, French, English, and now, an ever-growing list of languages. Still, one mostly hears English, often deeply accented by regional dialects.
The cuisine is seafaring. Even the hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants, delicious and, sadly, seasonal, feature the gifts of the sea. The tide of people from the south continues to march up the coast, bringing art galleries, restaurants, and summer homes.
Now we are home again, in Vermont, thankful for our days in Maine, and looking forward to returning there. It is good to get to know place and people through the year, and over decades. Only through time do we come to know the moods and pleasures of landscape and person.