Just to get away and be surrounded by nature. To forget about the cares of this world.
Thirty years ago, my parents and I set out for our first adventure onto the coast of Maine-that has lasted through this day.
We vacationed on Pratt's Island which is one of the many islands on the coastline of Maine. It was off of the mainland of Southport. Two bridges to get across to go to our little island.
When I was a teenager, I enjoyed the many afternoons walking on the rocks in front of our cottage. Our cottage sat on the top of a cliff of rocks with a forest that sat behind it.
These large rocks were a challenge for me most of the time. I clung to the nearby rocks in case I lost my balance . It was the first summer for me after having some surgery on my feet and ankles, and my parents thought that it would do me some good to get away and be in the salt and sea air and for us to escape noisy neighbors. On one of the occassions that I rock climbed, I did fall back onto one of the smoother outcroppings of rocks since I lost my footing. I gently grazed my back and was thankful that it was a smooth rock and not one of the more jagged ones that I climbed over previously.
One morning I overheard some conversations of the local islanders who said, "You see, the pollock and bass and some blues are running under ya here. you ought to give it a try." So off I went with my fishing pole and Plano tackle box. I stood by the railing of the Pratt's island bridge with its faded and chipped white paint. I tossed my line into the water with the hope of catching some fish. When I got the first tug on the line, I said, "yes, my first fish off this bridge. the natives were right." Yet, when I reeled in my line, I only caught a tiny green crab with some seaweed clinging to it. I brought the pole through the railing and unhooked the crab and tossed him back to the water below. Again, I cast my line into the water. Yet, I got the same result with crabs. That afternoon, I caught and released almost a dozen crabs.
As I walked home from the bridge over the dirt roads into the cottage. Mom asked how my fishing expedition went. "Oh, I only caught about a dozen green crabs with seaweed on them, no fish as the natives promised." Mom said, "you will do better next time,son. They were probably the same ones hopping on the line again." Words of comfort to a budding fisherman.
One of those summer days in August, I wanted to go to the local library's annual book sale. My uncle and aunt and their two kids were going to be spending a week with us in our cottage. I pleaded with them to get a ride to the sale. Yet they said no. I told them I was going on a gentle walk and would be back in a couple of hours. When I left the cottage, I was determined to get to the sale. I started the walk along the southport roads, and I stopped by several small yard tag sales and picked up a few items. Almost one and a half hours later, I arrived at the Newagen Library and walked in with great hopes of tables full of books. Yet, I kept looking around in some disbelief. A few scattered tables with leftover books and no one browsing. Ah shucks. no books. I thought about it for a moment, should I call home and ask for a ride. Yet, I started back on my 3. mile journey on foot. I kept worrying was I going to be late for dinner. When I got home, Mom and Dad were worried of why I was gone longer than a couple of hours. I said, "I wanted to go to Newagen, and noone would take me. So I decided to walk it by myself. " They said, "in two days, we have company. Better rest those feet so you won't be sitting alone while we have some fun. " Those two days were spent resting and recovering from the 6.5 mile journey.
Today, my parents are at Piper Shores, a lifecare community in Scarborough, a suburb of Portland . Piper Shores is an elegant community with cottages and a main residence divided into two wings, Joselyn and Kirkwood. This land was once part of the Winslow Homer estate and a group of investors decided this would be a good place for the elderly to live by the sea. My parents were reading the Downeast and saw it advertised in it . My parents heard many good things about lifecare from my dad's sister and decided to check it out. I am glad for progress on the Maine coast and knowing that there is no isolation there. And help is available 24 hours around the clock. And a drop-dead view of the ocean. Views that have traveled for us through our residences on the coat of Maine.
One of mom and dad's neighbors at Piper Shores owns a cottage on Southport Island . They are at the other end of the island on a small dirt road . As I had my weekly chat with mom and dad at their rented cottage, we reminisced about the old days of West Southport, Maine. Of those times when I caught those dozen crabs and my 6.5 mile hike around the island to go to the Newagen library's annual summer book fair. The Newagen Library has undergone an expansion with a new children's wing and has expanded its shelf space.
They visited Pratt's Island and remarked on the progress that the island had made. Gus Pratt, an islander for his life, owned a portion of Pratt's which had mostly forests of trees. It sat at the edge of the sea. My mom said, "that is his annuity for his family." His children now own it and decided to develop the land into milion dollar mansions. And the General store where Gus and his wife worked is now for sale to the town to have it be a center for the yacht club. Gus Pratt had a white beard and wore overalls at his store which housed a duck pin bowling alley within it. His checkout counter was lined with nickel postcards and penny candy. The store was lined with windows and there was a little cafe where one could sit and have an icecream cone or sandwich. During one of our summers, mom and I would walk to the store to pick up a loaf of bread and some bananas and get some icecream while walking home to the cottage.
I am sure that if I stood on the Pratt's island bridge today and tossed a line into the waters, I would almost come up with a dozen crabs and a few bits of seaweed. Yet some things will not change. The Sheepscot Bay which surrrounds Pratt's Isle and Southport isle are still present. So are the crabs and so is the island with the gulls and ospreys overhead and the rocks below. They roll with the pulse of the tide and not with the progress of mankind. They still get their sustenance from the sea just as the lobstermen do. And I am glad for them. Yet inside, I still have a hankering for those afternoons in a rocker on the porch. Enjoying a summer of rustic living at the edge of the sea. The same type of living that Rachel Carson had during her time on Dogfish head-also a part of Southport Lore.
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