I am fortunate enough to have a lover who lives on the coast of Maine, a kind and adventurous gentleman who takes me out for winter walks on the melancholy beaches there. I've always thought there is a deep sadness there that is completely comfortable and intimate. These are shots from Christmastime and the walks in Maine.
Here are some experts of writings I did while wandering the coastline several months ago.
June 23, 2009
Finger Bouquet and Shipyard
You made me a finger bouquet with flowers cut with your Swiss Army knife, tied lovingly with elastic from your sock. I left it in the bathroom of your pizzeria accidentally, which made me kind of sad but touched by the thought of someone else seeing the tiny white and purple blossoms there on the edge of the sink. Perhaps they would be as elated at finding them as I was when I happened to glance under a rain-soaked pink rose bush and see a pair of ladies gardening gloves there next to a trowel.
The image of those gloves follows me out to the rocky cliffs of the shore, where I follow the path of a lobster trap as the tide drags it in to the shore of the cove. An elderly couple from South Carolina mistakes me for a local, and I offer them directions and myself as a photographer as they paused at my bench at a turn in the path.
Ten minutes pass and I follow them out around the jetty to Perkin’s Cove. You’d told me the path came here but hadn’t had time to show me yourself. I don’t mind – I’m glad to find it on my own. I feel damp to my core from two hours spent in the salty mists of the cliffs, so the warm dim lighting of a seafood joint calls me across the road.
Barnacle Billy’s is perfect for a traveler looking to be inconspicuous like myself. I pay $6 for a small cup of chowder, which I devour to stave off the cold. I spend just as much on a pint of Shipyard, frothy amber ale with just enough local bite. Even though it’s June there’s a fire in the stone hearth here and after solid weeks of rain it’s a welcome comfort. Over my shoulder boats bob in the harbor along with moorings empty of the lobster boats. The tide is coming in fact now, and the traps are gathering in clumps along the shore.
Sitting at this knotty wooden table...I'm held captive by the austere beauty of the tormented ocean here. Families come and go in noisy passels, the chef calls order numbers over the intercom, and the tide just keeps coming in. it is the recognition that this one pint of good beer, that lobster trap being dragged to shore, that friendly couple from down south, the gloves under the rose bush and your perfect tiny bouquet of flowers are enough to make this day perfect. The guys behind the counter with the enormous lobster tanks pull the chowder back out of the fridge for me even though it’s closing time. They all congregate at the counter to chat with me while I wait for me second cup and we joke about how I should have gotten a bowl in the first place. The people at the table to my left are talking about Burlington, the fire is roaring, and I feel like I’m at home even though I’m drinking alone and writing in the corner of a seafood dive in the south of Maine.
I sit here writing, or reading President Obama’s first book as I eat my soup and finish off my second Shipyard. I drip on Obama’s book, two drops of water next to which I scrawl, “sorry for the water stain, my beer was sweating.” It’s Mike’s copy of the book, but I doubt he’ll ever notice I put it in there. My new trilby hat sits on the table as I work and wait for you to get off. You spin pizzas and I order a second beer before beginning the hour-long trek back to Ogunquit. It’s nearly dark now, and certainly will be by the time I get back. I might have a buzz from just those two beers, because I’m little. As I finish up a father-daughter pair wander in and inquire, “You closed? Ice cream?” and my new friends behind the counter echo, “No ice cream.” Only a French Canadian couple and myself remain, and once they shuffle out I realize that that second beer has made me too tipsy to read anymore so I set off into the night.
The tide has come in full, burying the jagged rocks and sweeping away the sand where I’d watched a pair of little girls play hand in hand hours before. I pass the Oarweed, a trendy seafood restaurant across from Barnacle Billy’s that has a little more swagger. They too are closing down for the night, since it is not quite peak season on a Tuesday night. One of the few remaining tables contains a group of four that are celebrating the birthday of one of their members. The offending celebrant is an old man of eighty or so years who is completely bald save for a paper crown upon his head. In the dim light of the restaurant surrounded by his friends, the elderly man garners a regal air. I step on into the night to journey back across the rocky shoreline over which I’d come two hours before. I pounded pavement in the thin ballet flats, closing the distance between your pizza spinning and my solo adventuring.