Portland Headlight. A good wave day. Cars pour in. People hike the trails. This was taken five hours after high tide. Photographers line up. Waves shoot spray 40, 50, 60 feet in the air.
The lawn right up to the lighthouse was scattered with rocks from the beach below and red shingles from the roof. It was a wild morning and a beautifully dramatic afternoon after the wind died down and the sun came out.
Fierce winds overnight and into the morning. Pelting rain on windows. I took the truck down to the cliffs. It was an hour after high tide. The waves were 15 and 20 feet high. I opened the truck window for 45 seconds. I could taste salt in the air. I was soaked in seconds. Love these January storms. – R.H.P.
The Morning of January 11, 2022
It was 6:55AM. The air temperature was 6° The wind was out of the North. Sea smoke was drifting down shore. The wind was 20 miles an hour with stronger gusts. In the 57 seconds of the video twelve gulls fly up the shore into the wind. Far out to sea you can see the winter fog bank. Somewhere toward the end of the video a man or woman walks south with two dogs along the road past two green Adirondack chairs.
We Asked a Question
Five People Responded
The answer to last week’s question…it was a Bufflehead Duck. And yes, there was more than one duck out on the waves.
While this may not seem remarkable, a new bridge has been built in our neighborhood that provides access to Pirate’s Cove, Pirate’s Cave, and a height of land from which we can now easily see Pirate’s Rock. This new bridge provides access to a height of land which shows Pirate’s Rock well at high tide. Most of us think the new bridge is awesome.
Can You Find
Look closely to see if you can find the duck. Ram Island Light and the entrance to Portland Harbor is out on the horizon. Now, can you identify the type of duck? Email us if you can. We’ll tell you the answer next week.
This is my favorite place on the Coast of Maine, Crystal Cove in Cape Elizabeth. I’ve logged hundreds of hours at this cove. There are two caves in this cove: Stand up Cave, and another cave filled with quartz crystals. We’ve also found doubly terminated quartz crystals packed in orange clay. There are veins of quartz that run through the rocks of the cove in many directions.
The cove is unusual in that it has an open wall to the Atlantic Ocean where two tides a day wash in to flood the cove. The still picture and video show this opening to the ocean. The waves are washing into this cove through a narrow 10-foot channel into a 50 to 60-foot amphitheater of a cobble beach surrounded by high cliffs. Curiously, the cove has a 150-foot canyon that comes into the left side of the cove, and floods only when serious seas storms with strong winds attack the coast.
This particular day is July 1st. Thick, dense sea fog frames the unusual rock formations which make this spot look more curious than an alien planet.
The Day After Christmas
I Went to the Beach
The day after Christmas last year, I went to the beach. I took my truck to Kettle Cove in Cape Elizabeth. Kettle Cove and Crescent Beach are 18 minutes from the store. It was smoke-breathing cold outside. I sat in the truck, engine running and heater on. I had a sandwich and chips and 16 ounces of Poland Spring water. Fifty other people, or so, did the same thing; they all came to the beach to watch the waves and the tide.
The parking lot was full. I watched as a guy bicycled out to the point. I watched as the waves rolled in and the lobster boats at anchor rode the waves. I played the radio and watched the afternoon light on the water. Already, the sun had gone as far south as it could go and was returning north again. The days were getting longer. The ocean soothes. The ocean calms the soul. The ocean and its tides are both beautiful and mysterious.
Gull Feather in the Wind
It was early December, 28°. Weatherman said temperature’s would drop and it would be windy all day. Waiting for lunch outside on the sidewalk, downtown Portland, I saw this feather. It’s not waves, but watch the video until the end.
The Prettiest Place in Maine
This is one of the prettiest, most accessible places on the coast of Maine, Shore Road in Cape Elizabeth, high tide, 10:30, early November. It’s called Pond Cove on DeLorme maps. When the waves are good, it’s a favorite surfing spot. It is also beautiful in late fall and winter.
I’m filming on a stony bench. The sun is low in the sky. The light on the water is pink and silver. Two gulls are out on the tiny waves. If there is such a thing as a perfect moment this is it. I believe there is so much beauty in the World, we can only stand if briefly, then we must look away or just stay a short time so that we won’t be overwhelmed. Truth is we all go too fast. Slow down to truly enjoy this beautiful world.
Dawn comes slowly. Sun breaks the edge of the sea then rises rapidly. I caught the sun before it disappeared behind a bank of clouds. Notice the pink-orange riding the tops of waves to shore..
The coast look so different any ordinary sunny or cloudy day than it does when the wind blows, the seas rise, and monster waves thrash the shores. Standing on the cliffs for fifteen minutes in the morning before work is like being on a movie set for the opening minutes of an epic film. The French Lieutenant’s woman could be out here this morning. The drama, the sounds, the explosive white spray is so awesome.
This Hidden Maine for Sunday is simple. I’m at Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth, near noon, on the first Sunday in November. The Sun is low in the sky, with sparkly light on the water. The air temperature is 52°. A bicyclist with helmet and gear is about to get on his bike and ride off of the peninsula.
Off in the distance you can see waves breaking on the reef off of Richmond’s Island. The bicyclist rolls down the hill past five women, past two trucks belonging to lobstermen, and out into the public parking lot. In the distance, behind the bicyclist you can see waves splashing three peninsulas over. There really are nice days in Maine after the fall colors have faded.
The Maine coast near Portland Headlight, looking south. A good surf running. Sea mist in the air. They say there’s enough energy in a single wave to keep a house warm for a year. I’d like a good wave for the winter.
I think of ships, big wooden ships with sails in the 1800’s. No weather reports, no engines to take over when you get close to shore. Rocks are unforgiving. If you’re the captain, one serious error, one, and it’s over.
Because it rained all night and near dawn the wind was still fierce, I took the truck down to the cliffs. The rain was light, air temperature 48 degrees. In the foreground, at the edge, green Juniper and what in the fall we call “cranberry leaves” (not cranberry, just the color). Waves cresting 10 – 12 feet. This is a 59 second video sweeping from south to east, ending at Ram Island Light house.
• There is magic in blue and green
• There is magic in sunlight
• There is magic in little waves
• There is magic in light on water
• There is magic everywhere
Yes, do listen to the sound of waves coming to shore and the sound of children on the beach a quarter of a mile away.
Summers, I try to go for a row everyday. Do I achieve the daily row? Never! But, I try. This was July 3rd. Caught a Kayaker and five geese heading out to sea. Part of the appeal of the sea is you never know what will pop up. The ocean is a wild place.
Awesome Skies and Nice Waves
The Maine coast. This is Crystal Cove in Cape Elizabeth, 15 minutes from our store, close to Portland Headlight. There are days when the clouds and ocean are so awesome it’s hard to believe it’s real.
When the sun goes down, most people go inside, turn the lights on, and watch television. I will admit to curious behavior; every night, year round, I go out to the porch railing and watch the night sky, the stars, the moon, and the wind in the trees. In the spring, summer, and fall I go for a walk in the dark around the property. The draw always is the night sky.
When the moon is approaching full, in good weather I go into the yard to sit, to watch the moon, and to watch the moonlight on the water. I’m over 65, I’ve never gotten over moonlight on water.
Moonlight’s silver flashes on a black sea are so different from sunlight on a blue sea by day. Moonlight shimmers like big electric silver fish swimming across the waves. Here in the still photo, the camera sees more than the eye. The video shows best as the eyes see it at night in full darkness. The ocean beneath a full moon is pure magic.
Moms are good people. This is a family on paddle boards. A dad on his board, a son on his, and a mom with two little tykes on her board. The river of this saltwater marsh snakes through ten acres of salt marsh grasses. They are a quarter of a mile away. Far enough away that this looks like the opening to a French foreign film: slow motion, no sound until the end when a jet enters the scene.
Happiest Place on Earth
This is my beach every morning before 9. I call it the Happiest Place on Earth. Dogs: big, little. Dogs: brown, black, white. Dogs long fur. Dogs short fut. They all get along perfectly, joyfully 96% of the time. Then that’s what we’ve got people for, to negotiate, suggest they settle down. The people presence is good because we are the time keepers and are there to blow the whistles at 8:59 and say it’s time to go home. Most everyone, if they’ve had a good workout are good sports about reaching 9AM.
Yes, do go some summer day…with or without a dog. My beach is Higgins in Scarborough, Maine.
I love saltwater marshes. They are pure logic and random wild beauty. They naturally occur at a particular level of high tide in ten thousand different shapes.
This one is in pristine condition with natural marsh grasses. It fronts the open ocean at high tide and the Spurwink River at low tide. This is one of numerous tide pools in the area with granite boulders and often little fish swimming in the ponds. I use my 9-foot row boat to make this shore.
Wedding on a Hill in Maine
A late summer wedding just north of Ellsworth, Maine. We had never been to this neck of the woods before. We walked up the dirt road toward the farmhouse. To our left an open field of blueberries ripe and ready to pick. The roofline of a red house and red barn, perfectly in-line with the hill stood between green earth and blue sky.
Several houses stood on top of the hill. One was the bride’s family’s. The property has passed down through several generations. Taking it all in, I thought how lucky the bride was to grow up with blueberry fields, big sky, and mountain top views.
Someone mentioned Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World. I could see it.
Fields and open sky east and west. To the south, the peaks of Acadia National Park on the horizon.
The ceremony complete, the bride and groom officially married, talk turned to the strong thunderstorm headed our way. We could see it coming. Dark clouds swept towards us. I love wild weather and couldn’t resist stepping out from the tent to watch the sky and feel the wind.
This video is taken looking north, a weathered storage shed and antique plow in the foreground. Nothing much happens. There’s lightning a few seconds in. You can hear the faint rumble of thunder and the sound of wedding guests gathered under the white party tent.
Minutes after this video, the rain came down in sheets. Strong winds shook the tent and sent many running to take shelter in the nearby garage. The storm passed quickly. Everyone was in good spirits, even those who got soaked when they ran for safety. It all contributed to a memorable event. The sun came out and the party went on. It was a great wedding on a hill in Maine.
Butterfly on Butterfly Bush
I found myself in a rustic garden on an island in Maine last weekend. The garden had a deep pink butterfly bush in the center and was humming with butterflies and bees coming to partake in the flowers. I returned several times over the course of the weekend to stand in the garden and watch as the butterflies fluttered from branch to branch.
“Old Man’s Beard” Forest.
We walked out to Bar Island at low tide across a tidal land bridge. Starting up the wide path that leads into the middle of the island we veered off onto a less traveled trail. A short walk led to the northwest edge of the island, an enchanted point in the mist and fog.
It was peaceful, away from the bustle of Bar Harbor. A gentle rain fell. A light, but steady breeze came in off the water.
Covering the bare branches of some spruce trees was a Spanish moss-like plant, the likes of which we’d never seen before in Maine. The gossamer strands were hauntingly beautiful as they swayed in the mist.
A little research later revealed that what looked like Spanish moss was a lichen, rarely found here in New England and more common in the Pacific Northwest. It goes by the unofficial name “old-man’s beard”.
How to Get There
Bar Island off Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Island
Time the tides – the land bridge is clear an hour and a half before and after low tide.
Once on Bar Island head up the path that leads into the middle of the island. A hundred feet or so in, where the path makes a hard right, there’s a less traveled trail that branches off to the left. A short walk leads to the northwest edge of the island and the “old man’s beard” forest.
Keep track of the time. The tide rises fast. Wait too long and you’ll have to wade, swim, or wait nine hours for the next low tide. You could also call and hope to get a lift by boat back to shore for around $200. Watch the tides.
Bar Harbor on a misty overcast day. At low tide a land bridge connects out to Bar Island. For three hours each tide cycle you can walk across to the island.
Joining the people spread out looking for low tide treasures in tidepools were seagulls. This one caught a mid-morning snack.
This was my big adventure last summer, 2020. I had a beach I needed to see for a light blue stone I wanted to represent Greyhound in our Beach Dog bracelet. I went to Cape Rosier, south of Castine on July 18. It was a sunny day, in the 70s, blue sky, small, high clouds, a nice sea breeze. I spent several hours at the beach, then I did one of the things I love to do…land-based exploring of the coast.
If you’ve ever thought about moving to Maine because it’s so awesome, so beautiful, you are right. It’s true, and it could be a good decision. We have a 3,500 mile coastline. We have fingers of land that extend far into the sea. Weekends, for the past 35 years when I’m not out in a boat adventuring, I’m in my pickup truck taking back roads, exploring towns and ports the tourists never see. My assessment: Maine’s coast is better than anything any out-of-stater can imagine. It’s even better than most Mainers have any idea about.
Typically, most people find a place they love. They establish the path to get to it, then follow that path for 30 or 40 years. Maine’s coast has thousands of magical places, especially once you get beyond Freeport.
I saw something today I’d never seen before, a green crab digging a hole in the sand off the end of our granite dock. He opens, appearing to kick sand back into the hole. His actions first appeared to be contradictory, then it looked like he was sifting sand. With his left claw he bundled a surprising quantity of sand and headed eight inches to the right to deposit and spread. I spent a fair amount of time watching. When the tide had finally left the creek I went back. He’d dug about five inches down. His sand hole was deep and filled with water. I could see the outline of his shell a fine silt sand covering his shell.
I’m 72; I love these bigger numbers. I even cheat and claim I’m the next number up, “Year 73”. My family has had cottages on our beach for nearly 100 years.
In this photograph, I’m standing on Higgins Beach in Scarborough, Maine. The next beach over is Scarborough Beach. One branch of my family had cottages and a livery stable, The Kirkwood, on Scarborough Beach. My great grandfather rented horses and wagons to Winslow Homer at Prouts Neck.
The photo shows ducks, a mother duck and two babies in the foreground, out beyond are three more ducks. Out beyond that is Winslow Homer’s Prouts Neck. When we were 6, 7, and 8 we spent hundreds of hours every summer exploring these tide pools for crabs, lobsters, sea urchins, and starfish.
Visit Maine and our 3,500 mile coast this summer. Any place you stay in Maine holds immense history and magic. And yes, our retail store is still closed. The good news is you can shop our website of over 1,000 awesome items and shipping USA is always free.
No surprise lawns everywhere are watered, even in Maine. I was stopped this morning by this fantail of bowing water, bird songs, and blue sky.
Thursday night we had the first full moon of the summer. This Strawberry Moon was also the last super moon of 2021. A super moon is when the moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit, making it look bigger and brighter. Looking out over the sea it did indeed look bigger and brighter casting a vast golden path across the sea right to me.
May 15 – June 15
Went up country to the shores of Damariscotta to search the paths of ancestors. Had ice cream at Joe’s Ice Cream Shop in Jefferson. Drove down the 13 mile lake to Damariscotta Mills and the falls at the end of the lake where the original peoples of the Americas gathered in May of each year for thousands of years for one of Earth’s great migrations.
In four weeks, a million ten-foot long Alewife fish swim from Salt Bay, leaping rocks and falling water to the lake above. This is a video of the herring gulls gathered at the base of the falls to catch fish.
Rubber duck in my stream waiting his turn to go over the falls. Cattails and ferns surround. Five more falls, passage under the road, fifty feet to the open ocean then freedom. Complete and total freedom.
Saturday, noon, Memorial Day weekend. Strong wind out of the north. Everything, everything is green. Waves and white caps racing down the shore.
While the rest of the country was looking for a blood moon in the west, we in the east were content with a lemon moon.
This is 8:28PM, looking east. Birch tree in the foreground, open Atlantic beneath the moon. Slight wind out of the northwest tossing the branches and leaves of the tree.
Greetings from Maine
God did most of the work: the sun, the ocean, the cliffs, the land. He even arranged for the trees. Thirty years ago they were still too small. I built a twelve foot stone wall and terraced out to it. Fifteen years ago I hung this hammock between two grown trees. God and I work well together. Oh yes, the birds are his too. This was taken at 8:02AM on a recent May morning, 14 minutes south of our store.
Fort Williams Park
Cape Elizabeth and Portland Headlight
A million people a year come. I live a thousand feet away. I would never know they had been here. I feel comfortable inviting all 16,000 of our email friends. We have a lobster roll truck in the park that claims to have the best lobster roll in the state. I’ve waited in line 30 minutes just to order. There’s always a line.
If we could see a dozen, two dozen feet beneath the surface to see who and what was swimming there, if we could see 100 fathoms to the sand and rock below, we would be amazed at the creatures who live there.
This video was taken at 10AM, April 21, 90 feet above the sea, 15 minutes south of the shore. Wind out of the north. Little waves chasing south. Sunlight in stripes across the sea.
Investing in Beauty and Joy
For the Future
Nancy planted twelve daffodils twenty years ago in front of a stone wall in the lower yard. Some years, depending on fertilizer, we’ve had over 500 flowers. This spring, we needed that additional boost of joy as our early spring crop of yellow flowers came alive once again. Investing in beauty is a good thing.
Barefoot on Our Favorite Beach
In less than 60 days, I’ll be back on my Maine sand beach, barefoot walking the shore. On one end of our beach the tide goes out more than a quarter mile. This video opens with me standing in the shallows. You can see a single me reflected in the half-inch of water. Look closely, you can also see a me reflected in the dome of a hundred bubbles. Then suddenly, a wave sweeps in and we’re all gone.
Summer is coming and we will all be barefoot on our favorite beach soon.
Sea Storm in the Night
The wind and rain stopped, replaced by fog and waves. Three hours into the night, I could hear deep guttural sounds of waves on the cliffs. I know that if it were light there would be spray 25′, 30′, 50′ high in the air. The cliffs muffle the sound of surf. When I can hear the growling at low tide, I know the waves are big. The sound is low, like thunder of an approaching storm. The sound is constant because we have a quarter mile of coastline. Even with my eyes closed and in the dark, I know where the sea is because I can feel the sound pressure coming through the walls.
Fourteen minutes from the Cross building in downtown Portland, 800 feet from Portland Headlight, looking out across a one acre freshwater marsh. Today is March 28, in 40 days this will be the emerging spring green landscape. We captured this image a year ago. We caught the sparkling light on the open ocean, and a young mother pushing a baby carriage while walking two dogs.
Families at the Shore
Families at the shore. Light breeze, full sun, air temperature 29°. Being with family is a good thing.
Early Engineers at the Shore
So much of our time as kids is spent studying cause and effect. It’s about testing how the world works. Three kids at the shore; the big one found chunks of ice and snow. “How far can I throw it? What kind of a splash will it make?” Both are among the many eternal questions of youth.
Someone commented he would like more videos on Hidden Maine in the landscape mode. He felt landscape would fill his desktop screen better. It’s a good suggestion. I have 70,000 photos and 6,000 videos, 98% of them vertical. This is a rare video shot in landscape, looking south east.
This video is from January 1, 2017. How do we celebrate the New Year up here in Maine? We go to the shore to wave watch. This is a lobster boat at Kettle Cove, Crescent Beach, Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The tall stick at the back of the boat is a small mast with a sail that the lobsterman can unfurl. The sail catches the wind and keeps a boat straight to incoming waves as he is hauling traps. Works as long as the wind hasn’t suddenly changed contrary to the direction of the waves. January 1st, sun low in the sky at noon. The ocean and sky are particularly beautiful at this time of year.
Salvador Dali, Melting Windsor Chairs
Gray Toyota truck. Windshield wipers. Wind, rain, waves, rocks, a good sea storm. Pure entertainment venue for two, three, four hours. It is a simple mind that watches. I’m a happy creature when there is a good storm.
America’s Ice Storm
This picture was taken February 17th at 8:02AM at the shore. The nation has been whiplashed with ice, snow, and arctic temperatures. The storm swept east and the ice angels just glazed our state’s bare branches, iced over our streets and walkways. It was simply beautiful. Maine was lucky this time.
This is Stand Up Cave at Crystal Cove, Cape Elizabeth, in thick fog on July 1 at 6:49AM. Fog closes everything in, eliminates all the distractions, allows one to focus on just a few things. A special mystery and beauty can be seen on foggy days. Add to that mystery an alien world landscape, add waves, and add a cave on the shore you can walk into that exists because there is a seam of clear quartz crystals at the center back that runs vertically up the wall. The seam is a weak spot that the ocean keeps working, tunneling the cave deeper into the cliff. The cove is known as Crystal Cove for the veins of quartz crystals that run through the rocks there.
Wind, rain, windshield wipers racing, a pilot boat returns to Portland Harbor fast. It moves quickly appearing, disappearing, swallowed by waves. It looked like they might have been in danger. I’m sure the captain had all the confidence in the world and everything was under control.
Swim at Your Own Risk
Wave watching is Maine’s #3 top sport. With a 3,500 mile coastline, thousands of coves, cliffs, beaches, and islands of every shape and form imaginable, we have an infinite number of opportunities to see how the sea will present the waves. This photo and video are from Fort Williams Beach, where Portland Headlight is located, just twelve minutes from our store. This sporting couple came to the shore at 2:55 on Saturday, January 16, 2021. Watch closely to this 46 second video to see if you can see the lobster trap caught in the waves.
Maine Coast, Spurwink River
Not for Ten Million Dollars…
Would I Move
I was born and brought up here, a few hundred feet away. This is looking at the Cape Elizabeth shore from the Scarborough side of the Spurwink River,
My people came to this Maine beach in the early 1900’s. Both my mother’s people “Cross” and my father’s people “Pride”. They didn’t know each other until their kids met and several years later I came along and joined them all.
Portland, Jewel of the Maine Coast
Maine’s Gold Coast Starts Just a Few Blocks From Our Store
A couple of times a year, I leave our Cross building on Free St and wander down five blocks of back streets to Portland’s waterfront. Somedays, the gold of lobstermen meets the gold of jewelers. I found this idyllic scene on one of our wharfs. This is worthy of a Salvador Dali painting.
A rare winter day, full sun, blue sky, seemed almost like summer in December. I even found a Dandelion on my lawn. Good ocean waves coming into Crescent Beach from the south east, wind from the north east, and a fine feathery blowback from cresting waves. Fifty cars, one hundred people, forty dogs, and one guy on a bike. He rode out to the point, struck a pose in silhouette against cresting waves and afternoon sun.
This was taken on the shortest day of the year, December 21. This is Atlantic sunrise. What it means on December 21st is the sun has gone as far south as it can and will go. With dawn on December 22nd, the sun is on its way back. Spring is returning and summer is not far behind. And, while some say winter is just beginning, we say spring is on its way; the days are getting longer.
On any evening, after the sun goes down I step out to the porch to sense the night, to feel the air, to scan the ocean. On this night, I saw a ship anchored at the horizon in the dark. I saw its three bright lights in the black sky and sea.
I’m seeing more Hermit crabs today than we ever had back in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I could be wrong, but kids are so observant, how could we have missed them? I see so many now. Sometimes in the shallow puddles at low tide there can easily be a dozen or two. Built more like little lobsters with a curly tail, they are easy to spot scurrying about. Pick on up and they retreat inside quickly. Hold the shell for a minute and they slowly emerge. The claws explore, and if it’s a big hermit the pincher can actually catch a finger. It’s 7:55AM in the distance, out of focus is Prouts Neck.
We live in an amazing place, Maine. There is a hidden beauty here, sometimes just a few hundred feet from places we all know, or have seen on calendars and postcards. We thought, in these times of restricted travel, we would share secret places, here in Maine, places that often, only locals know. We will be sending these “Hidden Maine” secret places emails on Sundays. Usually, these emails will feature no jewelry, nothing we’re trying to sell or promote. Often, we will provide only general clues as to where the secret places are, no GPS coordinates. And yes, sometimes we will tell you exactly where, and occasionally how to get there.
So many interesting things happen as the days grow shorter. Morning light is lower in the sky. On November 22, we are just 30 days from the shortest day of the year. Morning air temperatures now are in the high 30s. The oak leaves are brown rust and Japanese maples are still red and fading. Low light and a wind riffled sea.
I love my morning walk to the mailbox. It takes me 40 seconds down and 5 minutes back. I’m a kid on my walk back. I’m looking into the sun. My world is in silhouette. The driveway is 60 feet above the sea. The wind, the leaves, the sounds, I am caught by the purity and simplicity of the elements….and what I love this morning: the clouds over the sea, and hammock. Will this ever be repeated? Tomorrow, guaranteed, will be different.
Sunday morning I went to the cliffs. In the distance, through the haze, five miles down the coast is Two Lights. Look closely, mid-screen three loons sit on the rock. Behind me is Portland Headlight and between me and Two lights is a sparkling sea with bell buoys.
This is one of my favorite meditation points on the coast of Maine. I often go with the intent of spending five minutes…I’m often here for an hour.
Fierce winds overnight. Trees uprooted, big branches falling out of trees, leaves scattered like confetti. Gray skies. Morning sea winds still strong. Thunder waves at cliffs. The air is still warm enough to go down by the shore to watch.
There’s a reason millions of people come to Maine in July and August…blue skies, 3,500 miles of coastline.
Here’s what you miss not seeing the state in our other ten months of the year. Our gray-green sea, heavy clouds, wind and waves. If you’re here year round, on interesting days, it’s a quick jaunt down to the shore to see what’s up. This is a view 500 feet from Portland Headlight.
Sunday morning. 9:16. Eating oatmeal and raspberries, drinking a cup of coffee with the Portland Press Herald and the Boston Globe. I’m ignoring the papers and am watching as a two masted schooner sails along our shore. This is the week’s most awesome moment at the shore with a streaked gray and cream colored sky, a tear in the clouds above, sunlight in stripes sparkling across the sea. Nothing in the national news is better than this moment, this morning.
Everyone loves waves. This is my beach. I’ve spent 72 summers here. When the tide goes out at our end of the beach, it’s a quarter mile from high dry sand to way out low tide. This is an hour from high tide on a falling tide. The beach is Higgins Beach in Scarborough, Maine. The tree-lined shore is Cape Elizabeth.
I got home at 8:30. It was dark. I called Nancy and we talked about things. Just after nine I went out into the dark, beneath a full moon and walked to the shore to stand on the cliffs at the edge before a black sea covered with glittering silver light.
Sometimes at breakfast, I imagine I’m on a cruise ship, watching sunrise on arrival at a new port. What’s surprising about a window on the sea is that even though the window and scene are stationary, it’s different every morning. And, even in the span of ten minutes, it is surprising how much can change.
I live by the shore, 15 minutes outside of Portland. Over the last ten years, I’ve become used to the daily cruise ship traffic coming and going out of Portland Harbor in August, September, and October. Ships as big as New York sky scrapers silently slipping in and out of Portland Harbor.
I like a seriously good wave day. I believe all the energy generated by a good sea is transmuted into the rocks at the shore, and that he and she who stand at the shore are deeply, profoundly connected to the solid land, the eternal sea, and to one another. It’s why thousands turn out a the shore when serious waves are thrashing the cliffs and sweeping up beaches.
As I got older, my balance became more questionable, strength lessened, and my son, first mate, vice president of boating, had more interesting things to do on weekends. So, I sold the 13-foot Boston Whaler. Boat-less, I was bereft, a lost soul. Something so fundamental to my soul had been torn out. I went a year boat-less, came back and bought a 9-foot row boat, fiber glass, bisque color, rope gunnel, varnished seats, new varnished oars. I could feel a melody in my heart return.
Summer is winding down. The sun is lower in the sky. Down on the cliffs looking south, on the next peninsula down the coast you can see the remaining lighthouse of Two Lights. Two lighthouses were built close together in 1874 so that incoming ships could distinguish the location as different from Portland Headlight, five miles further up the coast.
The waves were rolling at Roaring Rock Point in York on this late winter early spring day. Wave watchers and cold water surfers were out enjoying this sunny Sunday morning. Video catches a surfer ride a wave to shore against the sun dappled sea.
Ocean temperature: 38 degrees.
Air temperature: 52 degrees.
Sea foam whipped from frothy waves jiggles like jello in the wind. Eight-inches deep in spots, I’d never seen anything like it. It was a great early spring wave day.
East Point Sanctuary, in Biddeford Pool, is a spit of land with a wind swept field and rocky beach out at the point. The distant lighthouse is Wood Island Light.
The Howard W. Middleton shipwrecked off of Higgins Beach in a thick fog. The remains of the old ship are still on the beach. This photo is half-tide. At low tide you can see the remains of the entire ship outline. At high tide it disappears beneath the waves. Visit Higgins Beach in Scarborough, Maine…best visible shipwreck in all of Maine…highly accessible and interesting condition after 123 years.
Cleaning out the basement on Saturday, I came across this old wooden lobster buoy. Just before I tossed it into the truck for my Saturday dump run I thought, I’ll run this down to the cove and toss it into the ocean. Freeing a wood buoy after a half-century of confinement was a good feeling. -R.H.P.
Lobstermen can’t pull or set traps on Sunday. I noticed this lobster boat off shore one Sunday. I filmed, then watched the film enlarged. There are two guys on the boat; one is driving and one has a fishing rod. Can’t keep a good man down or off his boat.
Surprises are the best. I took a load of brush to the dump this week. As I backed in I looked to my right and trailing down behind the leaf mulch pile was a 300 foot jungle of purple and white flowers. After tossing the brush, I walked down to take a look. I’ve been coming to this dump for 44 years. This is the first year I’ve seen this garden display. The way nature works, next year the flowers may not be there. In the background of the video below, you can hear birds and thunder. By the time I made it back to the truck we had a downpour.
April 2020, early morning before breakfast at the shore. I’m watching sunlight on the water when I catch three kids hiking the rocks. Thirty years ago, I lived half a mile down the shore. Summers, I used to go rock climbing every morning before breakfast. The end of my trek was where these three kids ended up climbing down the rocks. It was a great way to clear my head, focus attention, and start a new day.
Spring, May, the most beautiful month of the year. Everything is leafing out, turning green. Flowers are blooming, days are warming. This is a pink Azalea in a neighbor’s yard. 9:23 in the morning, temperature 58 degrees, looking southeast.
Hidden Maine the week before, flowers just blooming, a week later, flowers with brown edging. There is a moment, literally a moment in time, you can’t explain it, you just have to be there. Seventy feet above the sea. sunlight on the water. birds in the trees. There are moments in plain view that are so awesome, so special, so beautiful. It’s nice to be able to see the good green Earth and all the beauty that surrounds.
I saw an article about a secret beach in Cape Elizabeth several years ago. The article said few people knew of its existence. I filed the thought away. Wednesday morning I happened to be in the neighborhood, had an hour to spare, and thought, why not.
While there, I got this 32 second video of Ram Island Light with diamond light on the water. Because the article told the name “Cliff House Beach”, I feel free to reveal it again.
The irony is that I have lived within one and then two miles of this beach for 45 years and never knew it was there.
This is Heart Rock Beach. The metal post you see at the beginning of the video is the stainless steel railing to the stairs that lead down to the beach and cove. In the summer, three, five, seven colored kayaks sit on the upper part of the beach waiting to be paddled out of the cove. Today, if they were there, they would be swept away by the waves.
Why do you come to Maine? Because we have a wild, real, awesome coast. We have rock cliffs, secret coves, and an ocean that never stops. Waves that meet our shores that have been whipped by the wind hundreds of miles out to sea. Waves that race to shore to finally resolve on our coast in white froth and foam, and end with a lion’s roar. Waves sweeping up a beach dissolving at the base of cliffs. It’s all here.
Strong winds out of the east, big waves at the shore and spray 30′, 40′, 50′ high. Temperatures warm enough to be able to go down to the shore and wave-watch. Those of us who live here year round live for this winter-spring weather.
March and April we’ve had some good sea storms with 8, 10, 12 foot waves cresting at the cliffs. Thunder night and day a constant lion’s roar, sea spray 40 to 50″ high. Shown above is a still of a gathering wave from Saturday, April 4, 2020. This is the entrance to Portland Harbor. Ram Island Ledge Light is at the center. A single gull heads toward Portland.
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