I have always loved the ocean. The boom of crashing waves; the silence of low tide; the rhythms of swells. The smell of salt air and rockweed. The cries of herring gulls and laughing gulls. The changing colors of the waters.
I once sat on ledges at Pemaquid for hours, listening to the sea, invisible to me because the fog was so dense.
I love the colors of sunrises and sunsets reflected on the waters. I love the rhythms of waves that soothed and challenged people thousands of year ago, and, if our world continues as it is, will continue to do so for generations to come. We cannot outlive the sea. In winter, I love the glint of shattered ice on the shore, and ice floes on rivers.
Maine also has deep woods, large and small lakes, and (sometimes intimidating; sometimes seductive) mountains. Every year they attract thousands of people. But the part of Maine I love best is the coast. My home is not on the ocean, but on one of Maine’s many tidal rivers, which also ebb and flow; surge and retreat. The waters constantly move and change while always, somehow, surviving, and remaining the same.
Waters offered pathways in the past, when there were few roads, and people traveled in boats. Today people still work on the waters, and travel on them. People choose ocean travel because it is an escape to a world far from the lives many of us live today. A return to an element that has been part of man’s history for eons.
The sea sometimes offers peace, despite, or perhaps because of, its hidden currents and depths. It offers sustenance — fish, lobsters, crabs, oysters, mussels, clams, scallops, and a variety of seaweeds.
The sea has always challenged us. Waves surge and fall. They crest, and their spray whitens the darkness of deeper waves. Currents can be deadly. Storms turn ripples into waves and waves into crashing towers of water that contest the strength of the land. Early maps picture dragons at the horizons. Who knew what might lie beyond our visible world? Only the sea.
I remember my awe when, as a child, I stood in pine woods, high above rocks I’d explored and loved, and felt the spray from hurricane waters that covered those rocks and, with every crashing wave, moved the sea ever closer to where I stood.
Today I sit at my desk and look out at a river twelve miles from the ocean, but still moved by winds and waves affecting the North Atlantic. For years my favorite escape was to row my skiff, away from land and its challenges, close to herons and gulls. I loved the silence. The pull of the water on my oars. The perpetual challenge of changing tides and winds.
I don’t row anymore; my skiff is overturned, waiting, next to my barn. I miss being out on the water.
But the river and the ocean are still there, bringing constancy to my life.
They’re a large part of why I love living in Maine.