Maine: A Sense of Place


We ride our bikes, Paul and I in the evening down Mile Road.  Past Billy’s Chowder House, a weathered gray cedar sided building content in its solitude on the edge of the salt marsh overlooking the Webhannet River. The smell of fried haddock mixing with the salty air fills our noses and teases our appetite.  We turn and follow the road hugging the coastline.
The air feels as if it has travelled a great many miles to reach this point, born on the open prairies where it meanders in slow waves over meadow grasses pushing larks into flight. It soars upward and over the Appalachian Mountains before tumbling down into the tiny cone of New England where it becomes cool and compressed and shoots out over rocky Wells beach on this margin of Maine, running loose and free like school children sprinting into the school yard as the end of day bell rings. There it mingles with the frigid Atlantic ocean and pushes up great emerald plumes of water against the rocks frosted with the seltzer air, fizzing and releasing the briny, saline sea.

The light too plays with the air.  It starts out small; silver and hushed in the morning clinging to the fog like a quivering newborn all wet and cold. The Webhannet River is metallic as it snakes through the salt marsh. The light brightens and becomes bolder during the day bouncing off of the water droplets and salt particles in the air; a prism like effect intensifying the greens of the rushes and cord grass, blues of the sky and sea and reds of the beach roses to their primary and truest selves.   In the evening it lingers, blushing orange, pink and coral in the turquoise sky reflecting itself like giant blobs of paint in the tidal pools. For a single instant when day and night balance themselves the thin strip of beach houses separating the marsh from the sea are washed aglow.
The sounds are layered, the constant pull and release of the waves alternating between whoosh and silence.  In summer the laughter of adults and children’s delighted squeals wrapped in the waves, release and repeat themselves as the waves crash and fizz. Tiny piping plovers move as a single organism back and forth chased by the cresting tide. The gulls, some stoically regarding the sea and others painted full winged against the sky release staccato laughs. In the distance the sound of a bell buoy clangs softly, tossed by the swelling sea.

At Crescent Beach we park our bikes and walk along the shore, littered with blue and grey egg shaped stones. We breathe the ocean air in and it becomes a part of us. The oxygen and minerals themselves nutrients.  In this way Maine is forever with us, a part of our blood.

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