To stand on the cliff, eyes watering in the breeze. To feel its cool, clear, cutting edge. To watch the waves roll in and the sparkling light on the water. I’ve been here a hundred times. I will come back 100 times more. Do I expect it will be different the next time I come? It’s always the same; it’s always different. There are subtleties, details, and always clouds that reflect and change everything. I will return tomorrow.
As the land sweeps to an edge, it drops 20 feet to a curious cove with two entrances. In this video, you can see the entrance to the open ocean. To the left, you can’t see a sea storm entrance where big waves can travel down a 200-foot canyon and enter the cove from the northeast. I have never seen an arrangement like this anywhere on the Maine coast.
Out on the rocks, I can see Portland Headlight a quarter mile to the north. And yes, the silver light on the blue water is beautiful today. Sunday morning, slight breeze out of the north, air temperature 39 degrees.
A few thousand feet down the road, it dips and swings close to the ocean. The waves are good enough that surfers come to try their luck. To the right of where they surf, I’m filming. A freshwater stream passes under the road and out into the pond. In the foreground, you can see calm water, then winter marsh, then rocks and waves. This is Pond Cove on Route 77 in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
A recent snowstorm. The little pocket cove at Crescent Beach, Cape Elizabeth. High tide. Waves rolling in. Bench by the shore. Staircase at the far end of the cove. Air temperature 38°. Sparkly light on the water.
Mystery of the Morning
Some are like spaceships. They materialize out of morning sea fog the size of skyscrapers. They silently drift across the sea as shadows of sleekness and surprise. If my eyes were closed, I’d never know one had just passed. This one first appeared at 6:58 AM. This picture was taken 800 feet from Portland Headlight.
There is a mystery in the morning as monster ships silently approach. No advance notice, no names. They just appear for 5, 10, 15 minutes, then they are gone. This was the sleekest of the summer. Its lines were sharp, and I never saw one so fine before or since. We imagined all the passengers wore black-tie for dinner…no jeans allowed. I took the video first and then dashed to the shore to get the close-up shown in the opening picture.
This Was a Riot
A family and their dog. The dog is running wild on its leash…running in circles. Kids are ducking under the leash to keep from getting tangled. This was less than a minute of their half-hour on the beach. The dog had a good time.
The Most Photographed Lighthouse
This is Portland Headlight, Maine’s most iconic lighthouse. This photograph was taken on an August afternoon. The video is from January 17, 2022, following a fierce storm that blew red shingles off the lighthouse’s roof. The video was taken late in the day. The rain had stopped, the wind had died down, and blue sky was showing. The tide was in retreat, and the waves at Portland Headlight were still big. We often have some of our most dramatic surf in the winter.
I purchased Cross Jewelers from my grandfather Lin Cross in November 1975. Twelve weeks later, the Valentine Bandit hit our city for the first time, taping sheets of paper with a single red heart all over town.
I’ve often thought about staking out our downtown the night of February 13th to see who or what is putting hundreds of red hearts on 8 1/2 x 11″ sheets of white paper all over our city. It’s a mystery. I’ve been on the Board of Directors of our Downtown Improvement District…not a word has ever been hinted, suggested, or has revealed anything. It’s been 47 years, nearly a half-century, I’m clued into many things about Portland, Maine…just not this one.
This mystery is like Santa at Christmas. How this veil of secrecy has been kept up all this time is a mystery. I’m still waiting to grow up, expecting someday the full story will be told. Perhaps, we should leave milk and cookies out with a pen and pad of paper in case he or she wants to write us a note. As it is, life should hold to its mysteries. There’s Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and now the Valentine Bandit.
The hearts are put up with yellow masking tape. There will be thousands of hearts all over the city Tuesday morning.
The World is
Returning to Normal
This last sailing season we began to see big ships in Portland Harbor. Thousands of passengers spilling out onto our streets. At the end of the day 4 – 6:30, we would see the big boats departing the harbor. It’s good to feel the world returning to normal.
We are often asked when we will be opening our Cross showroom. Our answer is still not yet. I have to give our staff credit for massive adjustments and brilliant adaptations these last three years. Thank you for your patience. The showroom is still closed.
Drift and Dream
It’s high tide, my favorite time of day. I depart the dock and just row. The sky is overcast. There is no wind. The sea is smooth. An August afternoon is perfect for a serious row. I row out to the open ocean, a mile offshore. I ship the oars and drift. I can hear people on the beach doing and saying the same things their parents and grandparents said 25 and 50 years ago. We all become children when we go to the beach.
After drifting and dreaming, I row to an eastern shore with cliffs and trees, where I ship the oars and drift again. Am I thinking? Not at all! I’m drifting among the seaweed. On the shore, the cliffs are ancient red, yellow, orange, and green rock with spider webs of color running through. The colors and their mix are opal-like. Over the years, I have spent hours studying how colors combine. One of the dramatic features of these cliffs is massive veins of pure white quartz running diagonally down the cliffs. Quartz is harder than the host rock and thus juts dramatically out into the sea.
I have rowed out to this spot many times. I go for its peace and beauty. If I came a hundred times, I would find it fresh and new forever.
I Didn’t Believe a Word of it
But I Never Forgot What He Said
I attended a geology course on the rocks and coastline of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. This was 40 years ago. The teacher was an old guy in his 60s. He had maps of continents and spoke of continental drift. He was clear, enthused, and held the class’s attention. He was articulate and made a case for Cape Elizabeth, Maine and the USA splitting off from northern Africa 250 million years ago. He said Cape Elizabeth and the Rock of Gibraltar were once joined. He said he had been to Gibraltar and had rocks from Gibraltar. We could all see he was convinced.
I Marvel at the Beauty
We all like to make connections. I remember being impressed and, at the same time, not believing a word of it. And yet, I marvel at the beauty of the gnarly bone-white rock that exists along our Cape shores and several Casco Bay islands. I’ve not been to the Rock of Gibraltar or northwest Africa. I have, however, logged hundreds of hours on our Cape Elizabeth shores studying our unusual rocks. The stills show the bone-white rock. The video shows that same rock in the intertidal zone, and with seaweed and moss it darkens to black. Are Gibraltar and Cape Elizabeth kissing cousins? I don’t really believe so. We do, however, have some interesting rock formations along the Cape shore.
I Know I Was Lucky
The Day I fell Into the Ocean
This is a pitch for why you need iCloud for backup storage. One day several years ago, I was down at this cove and walked out to my favorite tide pool. I walked out to the sea side of the pool and stepped on a moist portion of the smooth rock, and fell into the ocean. It was August. As I plunged in, my first thought was, this is much warmer than I thought it would be. My second thought was that I needed to get out of there fast because my iPhone was in my back pocket. The rock I had been standing on was polished smooth and rounded down into the water and had a fine slick film of green algae covering the surface. There was nothing to grip onto. I floundered around for a while in the water. My third thought was I hope no one is looking from up on the cliff. This is one of my life’s most undignified moments. I finally found a chink in the rock and crawled out of the water like sort of a sea creature.
I lay on the rock for a while catching air, then reached into my back pocket for the phone. The screen was black. I went home, changed, and drove to the Apple store and told them my story. They called over their appropriate Genius. He asked, “Do you have photos on this phone?” I said, “Yes, 7000!” He asked if I wanted to buy another phone. I asked him if there was any other way. He said, “I can probably restore your contacts and all your pictures. I will need to pull the SIM card.” I told him, “I want the photos, pull the SIM card.”
Forty minutes later, I walked out with a new phone that was reloading everything from the cloud. My best advice? I had iCloud backup; get it for your phone. Also, be careful of the slippery rocks seaside.
When I got home, I went back to the cliffs and my tidepool. The tide had dropped and I saw, two feet away from where I fell in, a sharp pointed rock just below the surface. It was nearly identical to the rock in this video which was thirty feet away. I was lucky. Had I been two feet over when I fell, I could have been impaled by a pointed rock just below the surface.
The cloud won’t protect you from falling but it can make your phone life easier.
January 1, 10:44 AM. The temperature on the Maine coast is 50° with a sea breeze. Standing near Portland Headlight, looking south toward Two Lights. The sea was a glitter with diamond light. January 1 and 50 ° usually don’t go together in Maine.
Sunday, November 27, 2022. The tide was running particularly high. The time was 1:17. High tide was 1:07. Sunshine on the beach grass. Sunlight on the lighthouse on Wood Island at the other end of Saco Bay. I came close to not going, but I went and got this shot. I sat on the sea wall and actually saw what was there. Sun low in the November sky, light on the water, it was beautiful.
Location: Higgins Beach, Scarborough, Maine looking to the south and Saco and Biddeford Pool. Those of you who live out of state have no idea how beautiful our winter seas can be. With the sun low in the sky there is an elemental simplicity to what may be called our off-season.
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