Looking for Rachel Day 6

Friday, September 7

Our last day to explore and a full one.  First, a search for the Rachel Carson Salt Pond Preserve and, then, the Pemaquid Light House.   On Route 32 in New Harbor, we see the sign for the Preserve but no entry point.   After questioning a passerby, we are directed to park on the side of the road.   We walk down to the pond that looks out on Muscongus Bay- a favorite spot of Carson’s and an inspiration for her book, The Edge of the Sea where her description of tide pools waxes poetic:

“The pools have many moods.  At night they hold the stars and reflect the light of the Milky Way as it flows across the sky above them.”

and in the next paragraph,

“By day there are other moods.  Some of the most beautiful pools lie high on the shore.  Their beauty is the beauty of simple elements- color and form and reflection.”

Unlike Rachel, we didn’t see treasures in the pond but did sight a Great Blue Heron.  In an earlier book,  Under the Sea Windshe places birds in the “ebb and flow” of life:

“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and the flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years… is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be”.

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We go south to reach Pemaquid Light House located at the entrance of  Musgongus Bay across the sea from Monhegan Island.  We were not alone as we had been at the salt pond.  Many are drawn to the Light House, the store, the restaurant, the Fisherman’s Museum, the art gallery, the dramatic views.   We enjoyed them all.

We took in the view after perusing the store, then explored the light house, finishing off at the museum.   A fisherman was available for questions in one of the rooms where an 80 year old lobster shell graced the wall.  When I told him I preferred the old fashioned lobster rolls made with small bits of lobster, not like what we find today, overstuffed with giant pieces of meat, he looked stunned, then smiled wryly.  “Well, we’re just happy to have something good to eat. The more the better when you’re hungry.”  Put me in my place where I deserved to be.

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My friends surprised me with a piece of pottery or is it sculpture bought at the Pemaquid Art Gallery.  It is surely art, made by Trudi Curtis.  The person managing the gallery called her so I could thank her personally.  Ms. Curtis is in her 90’s and was pleased I was so taken with her piece.  She explained that she can’t see as well or be as active as she once had been, but her work which she can do makes most days worthwhile and perhaps joyful.

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We return to the house, our last night.  We pack and clean.  Karen and I decide to make one more attempt to reach the shore below the house, the shore Carson treasured and where she spent so much time.  In her dedication to Dorothy and Stanley Freeman for The Edge of the Sea, she wrote,

“To Dorothy and Stanley Freeman who have gone down with me into the low tide world and have felt its beauty and its mystery.”

We made our way cautiously, carefully, holding on to tree limbs, sometimes walking sideways, sometime sliding on our backsides.  We were rewarded; the drama of the terrain, the light off the water, the hundreds of periwinkles.

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Periwinkles on Rachel Carson’s beach

In Lear’s biography she mentions a letter to Curtis and Nellie Lee Bok where Carson describes the lost woods, that piece of land she and Dorothy hoped to preserve, mentioning periwinkles perhaps seen on this very beach .

“It’s charm for me lies in its combination of rugged shore rising in rather steep cliffs for the most part, and cut in several places by deep chasms where the storm surf must create a magnificent scene.  Even the peaceful high tides explore them and leave watermark of rock weeds, barnacles, and periwinkles.  There is one unexpected, tiny beach where the shore makes a sharp curve and there is a protective jutting out of rocks….

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Another gift from Rachel.

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