I guess it just wasn’t cold enough for us in Columbus, so Kish and I came up to Maine for a short visit, looking for even more wintry weather.
We found it. Here in Stonington, many of the boats and docks have been pulled out of the water and stored — even if it means just placing them on the nearest rocky outcropping — and the temperature is so cold that rocks along the waterfront are sheathed in briny ice. It’s bleak and beautiful, all at the same time.
Along the coastline, there is high tide and there is low tide. Everyone plans and configures their buildings and docks and decks for high tide, when the ocean majestically sweeps in, leaving everything awash and bobbing on the water. (That obviously makes sense, of course, because if you designed everything for low tide you would find your careful designs underwater or afloat at high tide.)
But I prefer low tide, because it lets you see the soft underbelly of the coastline communities. The buildings built on stilts. The bottom of the bay. The algae lines on the piers. And the floating docks, sadly left high and dry.
You’d expect an island with a town called Stonington to have an old, abandoned quarry somewhere. But, since most quarries are low-lying places — the whole point of quarries being to dig down into the ground, of course — you wouldn’t expect to find an old quarry atop a hillside, with a commanding view of more than a dozen islands. But that’s what you get when you venture up the trail to the Settlement Quarry on Deer Isle.
Settlement Quarry is one of a number of sites that the Deer Isle preservationists have turned into cool hiking jaunts. It’s an easy stroll up the old Quarry road, and once you reach the top you can admire the view, then take another trail through the surrounding pine woods. We chose the path that wound in and around the impressive piles of castoff granite, which are slowly returning to their forest state, with pine trees sprouting from the crevices.
With the breeze off the water, and pine trees everywhere, you’ll just have to look at the photos and imagine how fresh and crisp the air smelled.
Kish and I took a brisk morning walk today. It is a fine, glorious day, with a bright blue sky and seagulls wheeling overhead.
Being a Midwestern landlubber, seagulls still intrigue me, with their downy white feathers and aerial acrobatics, but the locals pretty much loathe them. They tolerate seagulls because the tourists expect to see them — what’s a port town without seagulls? — but they know seagulls are trash-eaters that like nothing better than picking at a dumpster for spoiled food and then coating your lobster boat with rank seagull poop. The outward appearance of seagulls is a lot more attractive than the actual reality.