I Know I Was Lucky
This is a pitch for why you need the cloud 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 seaside 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 was much warmer than I thought it would be. My second thought was that I needed to get out of here fast; 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. 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 chunk in the rock and crawled out of the water like a sea creature.
I laid 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 were any other way. He said, “I can probably restore your contacts and all your pictures. I will need to pull the SIM card.”
“I want the photos, pull the ISM card.”
Forty minutes later I walked out with a new phone that wea re-loading every thing from the cloud. My best advice? I had cloud backup. Get it from 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 that was two feet away from where I fell just below the surface. It was nearly identical to the rock in this video. 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 simpler.
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.
And Traditional Gift Wrapping
In the olden days, when our brick-and-mortar showroom was open at Christmas, we had a big Christmas tree decorated with big box presents beautifully wrapped beneath. In our two big windows at the street level on Congress St, we had two Christmas trees with dozens more big boxes wrapped beneath the trees. Our street-side windows were spectacular.
As 2020 arrived, we redefined ourselves as a Gallery of Fine Jewelry and passed on putting up the Christmas trees. We felt sad. We did, though, love our new Gallery of Fine Jewelry on the web and the 1400 items well pictured, well described in detail, and ready to buy and ship.
Christmas 2020 came and went, and in our Cross building storage room, we had 50 big boxes spectacularly wrapped in Christmas colors. To make more room for our Cross Gallery shipping expansion, we decided to lighten up our storage, and in February 2020 we packed up the pick-up truck with 50 big bold beautifully bowed boxed packages to take to the recycling center.
This truck and its contents were beautiful. It was a veritable Christmas card of beauty. I brought it home on a Friday night following a Thursday snowstorm. The land was covered with snow. The packages were so beautiful I even questioned disposing of them. I took a dozen packages out to the hammock and took pictures. Then, I thought I’ll take the packages down to the cliffs and get a seaside perspective. It took a long time to unload 20 wrapped packages from the truck and carry them to the cliffs.
I remember thinking that if anyone in my neighborhood saw the truck and saw the packages on the cliffs, they’d think someone was crazy. I was out there for over an hour stacking, photographing, then re-loading the truck.
No one came along at that time that I am aware of. If they did, no one has ever said anything. I have no regrets. The pictures were beautiful, and even though it was late February, it felt like a grand conclusion to one hundred Cross Christmas trees.
The Dump Master
At the recycling center, the dump master came over as I parked the truck and said, “You know what I am going to ask.”
“Shoot,” I said.
“What in the world are you doing? I’ve seen everything here. Santa has never pulled up a sleigh to one of our bins. There’s got to be a good story here.”
I explained: jewelry store, big Christmas trees, lots of wrapped packages…
He said, “Are you sure?”
I said, “We need the room.”
“Should I check for valuable content?”
“I’m certain they’re all empty.”
He asked if I would mind if he brought the rest of his crew over to take a look. “This is so beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
As I unloaded the truck, the big red box with the white ribbon was so beautiful I put it in the front seat and brought it back with me. The red box with the white ribbon is sitting on the fireplace hearth. It’s still there over a year later. Christmas is such a magical time of year.
We are often asked when we are opening again. We don’t have a time laid out We too miss our showroom, all of you and our direct customer contact. And yes, when we return, we will wrap another 50 or so packages and I will bring in the red box with the big white satin bow. It would be nice to tie the past to the future.
Grass the color of a broom. Water the color of Windex. Waves frothy white like freshly fallen snow. This was our beach in November. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen so much tawny yellow beach grass in one place, at one time. It was beautiful with the late afternoon sea breeze.
Location: Higgins Beach, Scarborough, Maine looking towards the Cape Elizabeth shore.
A Cliffside Surprise
I thought it might make an interesting video of someone sitting cliffside silhouetted against the blue sea beyond.
I did a did a double take as I was filming, it looked like the person in the distance was wearing a bike helmet. We were on a coastal hike, no place for a bicyclist. Curious I got a little closer. I was surprised by what I found.
A flashback summer moment.
Some Bees Really Do Prefer a Great View
We hiked the Great Head Trail across from Sand Beach in Acadia National Park. There’s some rock scrambling so best not to wear your sandals. It was one of the hottest days of the summer – high 80’s, humid and full sun. The views were worth the effort. The bees know.
After finishing the hike, we thought we’d change into our swimsuits and spend some time on Sand Beach. Before changing, we dipped our toes in the water and were shocked at how numbingly cold it was.
At the entrance to the beach there’s a sign that cautions beachgoers about the cold water even in the height of summer. We all agreed there was no need for swimwear, ankle deep was enough.
A flashback summer moment.
Today’s Hidden Maine is not so hidden. Jordan Pond is one of the most visited places in Acadia National Park. Last summer we attempted to visit and left because the parking and crowds were too much. This summer, we had a different plan.
After a quick breakfast, we were in the car by 7:30. It was perfect – easy parking, a few people on the trails, a couple of kayaks and a canoe on the water. It was a great quiet morning on Jordan Pond.
Our secret? We got advice from friends. “Go early, ” they said, and we did. Our best advice if it’s a nice day is to go early. Then you’ve got a parking space and you own the place. -S.L.P.
“How about we get a bottle of wine and go back to our boat”?
This was an invitation we could not refuse. Their 35’ catch was moored at the entrance to Camden Harbor, a quick ride out by water taxi. The painter’s sky and glowing reflection off the water was a dreamy summer moment.
Treasure Coins Discovered
Two planes were flying; you can only see one. Two pilots flying this Sunday afternoon. The last plane shown is flying above the spot where a pot of ancient coins and jewelry was found by a farmer and his son in the 1800s. They were plowing a potato field on Richmond’s Island. The treasure as found was bought by the Maine Historical Society. They put the treasure coins on display every once in a while. Is there more buried treasure on Richmond’s Island? absolutely!
Richmond’s Island is off the southwest corner of Cape Elizabeth. You can see it from Crescent Beach. If you make it to the far end of Crescent Beach, you can follow a farmer’s path to a hidden beach 600 feet beyond where we watched this aerial display.
Fall is quick. We move from yellow, orange, and red to brown in weeks…then guys with air guns, rakes, and leaf bags are everywhere.
We do a billion leaves every day in Maine. It’s no surprise leaves are also happening in your neighborhood too.
It’s a five-minute walk from my house down through the yard, around the freshwater marsh, to the cliffs. The cliffs are between 12 and 30 feet high. The cliffs are all rock. The cliffs are serious and in some places scary. I have a path that I follow over the cliffs. I do the path more carefully as I age. It takes me down to an oceanside canyon and out to Crystal Cove. There are several places to sit on rocks on the cliffs that are almost comfortable.
Every day the sky, wind, waves, and tides are different. Did you know the sound of weaves never repeats exactly? That’s part of what attracts people to the shore…the infinite diversity.
I do feel sorry for people who literally live on the edge of rock and shore and are there 24 hours a day. Yes, it is beautiful scenery: waves, views of vast expanses, and sparkly light on the water, but the sound never stops. To get away from it, to escape they have to walk inland.
Listen carefully to see if you can hear a repeat.
From this spot, I can see Portland Headlight, Ram Island Light, Halfway Rock Light, Two Lights, and sometimes Seguin Lighthouse.
The tide was falling.
The waves were still big.
The volleyball was freed from the shore.
Waves were catching, tossing, spinning the ball.
In the final round, the ball was tossed back up on the shore
cradled in the rocks.
Touch Down. Six points. Waves win.
A Single Dried Flower
In Front of the Waves
It’s October. We’re at the seashore, high on the cliffs. The camera is focused on a late summer flower, then changes its mind and focuses on the flower and juniper, then shifts focus to the seaweed-covered rocks and waves. We’re close to Portland. Portland Headlights over my left shoulder, 500 feet away. The tide is low and rising. The sea is blue with very few high, thin clouds. There is a light sea breeze, the air temperature is 62°…. quite nice.
Today’s tide was high at 4:31. This video was taken three minutes after high, close to Portland Headlight. Our tides generally run 7 1/2 – 11 feet. Today’s tide was a 10-footer. It was mostly overcast all day, with occasional patches of blue sky. The air temperature on the coast was in the 50s. It was a pleasant fall day in Maine.
Here’s What You Can’t See
First, what you can see: wheat-like grass lit by a late afternoon September sun. Eighteen tassels, feather-light, exquisitely formed, with delicate blades of grass from below going every which way. The photograph and video are looking south. There is a light breeze out of the northeast. Everything is moving, trembling in the 58° air.
Second, what you can’t see: if you looked to the left or looked east, there is a blue ocean 300 feet away and 50 feet down. The ocean, this late afternoon, is cobalt blue, squeezed as pure color from a painter’s tube. Several hundred feet offshore, white caps are frothing on wave tops running down the shore. It’s a comfortable fall day. The ocean is beautiful. These grasses are exquisite in their golden light.
September Sleigh Surprise
I was reading the morning paper when I looked up and saw a black horseless carriage or a sleigh without a driver or horses bobbing along the vegetation line of the cliffs. I scrambled for my iPhone to get a video and poof; it was gone. I’d never seen anything like it.
I sat dumbfounded, puzzling over the apparition, when, several minutes later, it appeared again on the far left.
Was the Goose Standing on the Rock?
I love the fact these two geese were paddling to stay even with the flow of water, then suddenly turned to be swept with the outgoing tide. And no, they weren’t standing on a rock to appear to be standing still in the storm. It’s two to three feet deep in that part of the river.
On this morning, there were 25 geese in the low tide stream of the Spurwink River at Higgins Beach. They were very much at peace with me 30 feet away. I find the low tide Spurwink River one of the best places to observe nature up close.
The Sound of Gulls
Echoing in Our City Streets
Portland is a seaside city. Most days, our city echoes with the sound of gulls. This video was taken from the roof of our rooftop parking garage, a block from the Cross building. This is the full moon rising on Thursday. In the foreground is the Centerboard Yacht Club in South Portland. On the hill beyond are dormitories of Southern Maine Community College.
The gulls are a constant sound up and down our city streets. From the roof of our Cross building, we can see the harbor and the open ocean.
We’ve had a dry summer. My stream stopped running. My lawn turned blond. Plants were wilting, then a storm arrived.
I used to have six cedar-Juniper trees. Over the last five of them died due to dry summers. The one left is beautiful. It looks like a big Bonsai tree. I got concerned in early August and brought my garden hose down and watered the soil around the tree for six hours. The tree seems to be doing fine.
Recently, we had several days of rain. My heart goes out to all the sun-parched places on our planet with endless days of high heat. Then suddenly they’ve got more rain and water than they can handle. This was a recent rain in Maine for several days. It felt like a tropical rainforest. Afterward, I went down to check on the stream. It was still dry. The land just soaked up everything that fell out of the sky.
In Maine, we are fortunate, we have been spared the intensity of the extremes. All of us everywhere need to take our Mother Earth situation more seriously. I truly believe we need to move more swiftly to keep Earth’s systems in balance.
Our wish for you, if it’s been warm and dry is that you get more rain and if too much has fallen from the sky that the clouds will part the sun will come out and begin to bring our world back into better balance. Here’s to hoping for a sane fall for us all.
August 19, 7:14 AM 68°
Retreating tide. Small waves settling in along the coast. Lobster buoys dot the surface of the water. Sun on water, shaded along the shore by a long grey cloud. Two lobster boats are headed out to sea. Two lobster boats are parked, pulling traps.
Beaufort scale wind 1, slight air movement coming from behind, heading out to sea. All is silent. All is still, except the sound of waves.
Why come? Why sit? What do I think I may discover? Perhaps, it’s nothing. Perhaps, it’s just the sit and a sip of coffee and being present to the sea and land at its edge. I glance up, 27 ducks are swimming up shore. Three more boats are heading down shore and out to sea. All is silent beyond the waves stirring below.
This is a large canvas with four feet of greenery in front of me. Twenty feet out, the rock is tan, taupe, grey, and twenty feet below, the water on the morning’s sea is grey teal. Dots on this canvas are moving. They appear and then disappear. Air movement is slight. Delicate yellow wheatgrass vibrates imperceptibly.
A gull comes down the shore. It’s the most dramatic moment of the morning. He has big white wings tipped in grey and black. He’s gliding, circles twice. 40 feet out he dips, descends, lands on the water or cliffs below. A single-engine plane flies up the coast.
From where I’m sitting, I can see 13 boats. All except one are headed down the coast and out to sea. It’s now 7:42. I hear a twin-engine plane up above the clouds. Four dozen boats have passed in the last half hour. The world is coming alive. I know why I have come.
My Maine Morning Meditation
This is 6:32 in the morning. Our skies depend on temperature, on time, on grand Earth events: volcanoes, fire in the west, the jet stream, and maybe global warming.
I love my mailbox and morning newspaper walk. It’s a type of meditation. It’s time enough for the water to boil for oatmeal and coffee. It’s time to breathe and prepare for a new day.
The ocean is pastel blue.
The sky is peach, pink, yellow.
The video is 17 seconds. You have to watch closely to actually tell that it’s a video. The Sumac moves ever so slightly.
What I find interesting at the sea shore is the meeting of land and sea. Both are strong, rich, and intense with lifeforms: fish swimming within feet of the wet stone edge, seaweeds flourishing, kelp, barnacles, lobsters, crabs, and on the landside, forests and flowers thriving right out to the edge. Plants thinning only within the last few feet of upland and the reach of salt spray.
Then comes the DMZ of barren rock scoured and swept clean by surf, wind, and rain with cliffs, cobble beaches, and vast stretches of sand.
On this cliff, a small evergreen clings to almost bare rock, while 30 feet below, salt waves thrash the cove twice a day. Today it’s foggy, strong sea breeze from the open ocean, air temperature 69°. I had a light fall jacket on. Yesterday, air temperature was 95°. Both days were beautiful here in Maine, 20 minutes from downtown Portland.
Peace, Serenity, Tranquility
A Row Boat in Heaven
On an August Afternoon
We’re all striving to find perfection. We’re all looking for that ideal moment. I believe I know where perfection is. And, while I can identify many great moments in life, I know one place I have found perfection is on the sea. It’s serenity in my row boat at high tide. It’s an August afternoon: full sun, warm temperatures, and a combination of humidity and the sea breeze that makes it so you can barely feel the air.
My grandparents had cottages on this beach, my parents had cottages on this beach, and I have a cottage on this beach. The cottage is near the end of the beach, adjacent to a tidal marsh, and has a granite dock with kayaks and a row boat. The kayaks are good; the rowboat is the ticket to heaven.
I know the moment of high tide every day; today it’s 3:44. The tide chart is magnetized onto two refrigerators. I’ve got a copy in my truck. High tide is on my phone. I leave home at 3. I arrive at 3:15. I toss a life jacket into the boat.
Fifty years ago, boating was about the destination. Now, it’s about being here now in this moment of sky and sea. I’m three out minutes out from the dock to this spot in the bay. I ship the oars and drift. I drink in all the blue, the stillness, and the water reaching high onto the land. Beyond are yellow fields and green trees. Listen to our video, the birds might be Piping Plovers or Least Terns in the bird sanctuary to the right.
The boat is floating in Scarborough, beyond is the Spurwink River and the hill is Cape Elizabeth. I could just drift and be happy. Today I will row upriver.
Don’t Tell Anyone!
Best Kept Secret Beach
I’ve lived in Cape Elizabeth for 48 years. My first house was a ten-minute walk away from this beach. I never knew it was there. I read about it recently in our town newspaper, The Cape Courier.
For two years I’ve had my spring-summer oil change and inspection done at two different shops nearby. They asked the same question, “Do you want to wait?” “Yes, I’ll go for a walk,” I said to both. I knew where I wanted to go. A five-minute walk took me to Cliff House Beach Park. I was surprised that I could be so close, and drive by two times a day within 300 feet, and never know of its existence.
The cliff is 40 feet above the beach. A sturdy aluminum staircase goes down to a rock beach, and at low tide, a sand beach. The lighthouse is Ram Island Light and marks the entrance to Portland Harbor.
This video was taken at 8:30 in the morning. I now look forward to my annual inspection and spring oil change and my hour at the beach. Parking is free. Promise not to tell anyone!
From Last Week’s
Mystery Shore Bird Enquiry
Thanks so much. We had a nice response from many. 80% said Short-billed Dowitcher. Now when I’m out in the field and someone says what’s that. I can say with 80% certainty, “It’s a Short-billed Dowitcher.”
Help! What’s This
Our cottage is on the edge of a state bird sanctuary. We have nesting Piping Plovers and Least Terns on the sandy dunes out front. We have Geese, Ducks, White and Blue Herons, and of course Seagulls in the marsh out back. We have Eagles up high, watching the sand dunes, the marsh, and the Spurwink River.
Early one evening, I rowed from our dock and was met first by one bird, then two new birds I’d never seen before. They flew out of the tree line and landed in the marsh grass by Angel Creek. First one, then the other flanked me on either side. I stopped rowing, shipped the oars, and drifted by sea breeze to their shore. Both birds chirped away. They had a lot to say.
I was curious. They had long beaks. I took pictures and filmed. Later, I went back to the cottage. Our center room is called the Audubon room because we have a bronze sculpture of blue herons, a hand-carved duck decoy, five other bird sculptures, and 100 bird books. We have the baby elephant Audubon Book of American Birds, weighing in at 13 pounds, measuring 15 inches by 12 inches by 3 inches. It’s big and filled with copies of big bird paintings.
We also have Sibley’s Birds of North America. Sibley’s has a million birds pictured. I thought I would arrive at certainty in minutes. I admit to being a bit puzzled. My top three choices are:
The birds seemed much too large for Sandpipers. In my 70 years at this beach, I’ve never seen anything like them. Help! I’m open to any possibilities.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for helping.
The Family of Dogs
July 4th, any year. 7 – 9 AM. Thirty to forty acres of flat, smooth low tide beach. 100 people, 80 dogs of all sizes, all colors, all breeds, leash-free. Wild, free, fun. Racing, running, chasing, barking. Thirty surfers. Watch in the video for the guy and his dog surfing on a paddleboard.
Our Family Has Loved This Place for a Long Time
The Cross family has had cottages on Higgins Beach in Scarborough, Maine for 75 years. We sun, we swim, we play, and we launch boats and kayaks from our granite dock. And mornings before 9 AM, we walk the beach to be with the greatest gathering of the family of dogs in their moments of pure joy and ecstasy. Every day of the summer, from dawn till 9 AM, dogs and their people rediscover and reinvent the beach.
Weekends, more come from surrounding towns. The grandest day of the season is the 4th of July. If it’s a day of good weather and cooperating tides, Higgins is an open arena and the happiest place on planet Earth. Come with your dog or just come for the pure pleasure of it all.
Lunch with a View
We picked up sandwiches in downtown Camden. I looked on the map for an interesting spot to have lunch. Curtis Lighthouse Overlook seemed promising. It’s easy to miss; parking is limited to off-the-shoulder and just a couple of spots. You have to be lucky. A wooded trail is marked with a simple sign. The short path leads to a bench with a view of Curtis Lighthouse and the entrance to Camden Harbor.
Two videos – a boat headed out and a boat returning. Look closely; there are two kayakers in the first video. Penobscot Bay on a sunny summer day is a little slice of paradise. Our little boy was more interested in the potato chips. -S.P.
Play Catch up With Mom
I left the dock on a morning tide and increased my adventure by rowing out toward the open ocean more than a mile against the tide. I found a place on the Cape shore where marsh grass stops and rock cliffs begin. I pulled the boat up on the last stretch of sandy shore, took my life jacket up to the rock cliff, and found a comfy place to stretch out on a warm day in the shade.
I watched my beach across the water. Little voices playing in the surf. Kayakers paddling out in green, red, orange, and yellow boats. Far enough out to catch rising breaking waves and ride them in.
I sat for a long time thinking of nothing, dreaming of a late spring day, when I noticed two baby ducks paddling alone about 30 feet away. I’ve learned “slow” when retrieving a camera from a pocket to not startle nature or have nature change its behavior because I’m noticed or seen as a threat. I caught the little ducks paddling peacefully, then saw them surprisingly speed up when the mom and other big ducks appeared further out within and beyond the seaweed.
The path leading to the cliffs is flowering with wild roses this week. When I got to the top of the cliff a lobster boat was heading out to sea. Full sun, blue sky, 64°, slight breeze, sparkly light on the water.
Serene as a Gull
On the Coast of Maine
Ships Cove, Fort Williams, Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Cushing Island out beyond. Low tide. Entrance to Portland Harbor. A gull flies the length of the cove across the beach and back down the length of the cove and lands on a rock seaside…all in less than a minute.
Tuesday, June 7
At the end of Crescent Beach, a strong sea breeze. Waves coming ashore. Park your car at the far end…free. Park in the middle at the Crescent Beach State Park it will cost, but it’s worth it. If you’re a Mainer and over 65 it’s free.
On June 7th, there was one white wild rose tossing in the sea breeze. This week, if you go, there will be more white roses.
Crescent Beach State Park, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
A Secret to Happiness
Here is my theory of peace: go somewhere and stay, simply sit and be. Be present to the local experience, and drink it all in. 52 years ago this month I found Crystal Cove for the first time. I was hiking the coast in June. I climbed down a rock cliff and found a large quartz crystal. I was impressed; it was the largest quartz crystal I’d ever found.
I’ve still got the crystal. It’s in my attic. The cove “Crystal Cove” is in the photo slightly to the right of the crystal I am holding. Thirty years ago I bought a house 200 feet from Crystal Cove. Over the years I’ve logged hundreds of hours on the cliffs at Crystal Cove, watching the morning light on the water. Only a local can come to know a place, or a specific spot so well.
In the first month of living here, my son and I excavated 13 pounds of quartz crystals at the cove. This was one of the crystals found that day 30 years ago.
There’s Gold at the End of the Rainbow
In a cubic mile of Maine seawater, there are 38 pounds of free-floating gold. This makes every cubic mile of Maine seawater worth over two million dollars. No wonder they charge so much for oceanfront property.
Is this unique to Maine? Actually, any cubic mile of seawater in the world has 38 pounds of gold, but then, they charge a lot for oceanfront property everywhere.
This video was taken at Fort Williams and Portland Headlight in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The lighthouse under the arc of the rainbow is Ram Island Light at the entrance to Portland Harbor.
Orange Moss-Covered Rock
This is a rock out at Two Lights with orange moss, a salt-tolerant moss. Orange moss is a beautiful detail of coastal rocks. The video is of Dyer Cove at Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth. Watch the white light reflected in the blue water. May 2nd, air temperature 53°. A fresh coat of white paint on the outermost lighthouse. Listen to the sound of the waves.
Yes, The Lobster Shack is 100-feet to the left. The video was taken at 10 AM. The Shack opens at noon. Lobster Dinner $39.99 listed on the wall.
May is the most beautiful month of the year. In seasons it is the teen years of life, young, fresh, strong, alive. May holds the promise of summer. In two weeks from this video, by May 24th, the valley below will be lush green. The trees will be leafed out casting shade and shadows. Temperatures will be in the 70s.
This morning songbirds sing. Blue robin’s eggshells are appearing on the lawn. There is a serious storm out to sea. The ocean this morning has 5-foot waves and is tossing surf in the air. This video clip is 800 feet south of Portland Headlight.
Welcome spring to Maine again.
We Can Never Return
To the Pre-Digital Age
Human society continues to move on. Nature, though, remains pretty much the same. The sea and shore are essentially eternal. And thus, we return to sit by the sea to commune with nature, finding an anchor to life and solace in the serenity.
Waves on the Rocks
An Eternal Fascination
My wife and I, and our two daughters went down to Heart Rock Beach in September of 1996 late in the day at low tide. In a tidepool just below where the waves are in this still picture and video, we found a baby seal. We sat on the beach, 20-feet back. We didn’t touch. We didn’t interfere, trusting a mother seal would come back for her baby seal. A half-hour later, we walked back to the cottage, our 6-year-old daughter, Elizabeth went directly to the art room. After supper, my wife showed me the picture she drew.
I went down to the cove called Heart Rock Beach because the sound of my wave indicator was increasing all day long. By the end of the day, the skies had cleared, and the sun was strong.
This video starts looking at rocks on the beach, traces across yellow and green wire lobster traps, and a tangle of lobster lines: blue, orange, white, pink, green, yellow, and black. Finally, looking up and out to the sea, the wave size was good, up to ten feet. Because the sun was shining, the detail on the waves was really good.
We bought a house by the sea 30 years ago that came with a seismograph. Yes, something that measures Earth’s tremors. The previous owners who lived here for 25 years had never mentioned it at the closing. I lived here for 10 years before I made the connection and came to the understanding that the house has a built-in monster wave detector.
How I Discovered
The Monster Wave Detector
Our dining room looks out on the ocean. The house is on a hill built into the cliffs and ocean. Adjacent to the dining room, the house came with a wet bar, a small room with a refrigerator, a sink, a countertop, open shelving for bottles of liquor and wine, and nine shelves for the clear glasses of all types for mixed drinks. It was beautiful. It was impressive, The bottles of alcohol, their colors, and all the clear white glasses.
I remember seeing the wet bar the day we toured the house. The room was sophisticated in its elegance. When we moved in, my wife turned the room into a sewing room. Later, it became a library. Both uses were before I discovered it was a really specialized seismograph able to detect monster waves.
The entry to the room is by way of a Dutch door with an upper and lower half. The lower half has a shelf built in for serving drinks. The double door has a shelf on the inside lower half with a 32-inch span and is 8-inches deep. I understood from the neighbors, that the previous owners had parties in the 1960s and 1907’s and 19080s were legendary.
The lower half of the Dutch door is stable and silent. The upper half of the door is poised delicately on its hardware and catches the vibrations from the washing machine in the laundry room when it’s on its spin cycle. The door will vibrate for five minutes when the washer, two rooms away, is spinning. This is the baseline for a wave seismograph. It’s lowest during the 5-minute spin cycle.
Our storm wave seismograph works for storm waves coming from the east and southeast. Our cliffs are 20 and 30-feet high so we can’t see normal sea waves directly. As waves begin to grow sea spray shoots up so we can see evidence of good seas in the daytime. But, if it’s night or foggy, we can’t see even a hint of the power of the sea.
I began hearing the sound, the vibration of the door as I worked on Friday. In its wave detecting mode, it’s faint and not annoying, but loud enough to be heard. Last week I was working in the dining room when I noticed the upper half in faint vibration. Its sound continued and increased as the day progressed. By 4 o’clock it was humming along nicely. Nowhere near the spin cycle level, but loud enough to suggest serious cresting waves.
I went down to heart rock beach after my full day of work. It was the best full sun, comfortable temperature series of waves I’ve ever seen in my 30 years at this location. Heart Rock Beach is a 200-foot cove opening east to the ocean. The cove has many two to twenty-ton rocks scattered in the shallows which break the wave action in spectacular ways. The ocean’s wild seas were raging lions, hyenas chasing and leopards prowling. It was whole milk, whipped cream in a full mix and stir. I sat in the caldera 10-feet back from the highest advancing waves. I felt safe. There were moments, though, as a wave rose to crest, I thought, can I jump and get back? This is it, you’re a fool.
I took stills, and I filmed. The tide was rising. I wondered how often I’d missed a good surf because the cliffs conceal and I’m not sitting beside the seismograph.
I need to pay more attention to the house seismograph because the ocean sends Morse code through the bedrock. The gentle cricket sound in the upper Dutch door says there is something happening on the cliffs below.
Silver Light at Crystal Cove
I am a lover of fog, rich, dense fog at the ocean. Fog changes everything. It hides what may be just 200-feet away. There could be a lobsterman pulling traps. Three kayakers may be paddling by. Everything is shrouded in mystery. Sounds are louder; sounds travel more easily in the fog. Nearshore, fog activates fog horns. I have a foghorn/lighthouse mystery at Crystal Cove which I have been trying to figure out for thirty years. Standing at the cove it sounds like the foghorn is a mile off from the shore. The sound appears to be coming from nothing but the open ocean. I’ve traveled up and down the coast. The sound disappears. An unsolved mystery is a gift.
Fog sucks the color out of all the elements of the landscape leaving essentially a black and white world. I become an artist in black and white photography.
This morning it’s 7 AM at the shore. The air’s misty cool. The sun is trying to burn through the blanket of fog. I’m sitting on a park bench watching the waves come to shore. The sky is silver gray. The sun is silver round. As the waves come to shore they move through a silver sea. As each wave approaches it travels through the narrow opening, emerging as a curving, frothing line dissolving on the inner rocks of the cove. I could sit here all day. Breakfast will be ready at 7:30. I must leave.
Lobster boat or trawler heading back into Portland Harbor. I took this photo and video at this time of year, last year. Look closely for the turkey. I didn’t notice him at the time I filmed this, but a live wild turkey walks through the middle ground from stage left to stage right. See if you can find him.
Pay Me $100,000
and I might be willing
to do this…once
I was sitting on the beach watching seagulls paddle around in the March water. I was feeling sorry for them and their exposure, when this guy appeared with a surfboard under his arm and walked across the beach between me and the waves. We said hi. Two minutes later his friend walked by and said, “I was surprised to see the fog.” The two of them set up further down the beach.
She paddled out first: air temperature 42°, water temperature cooler. Yes, they were both covered in wetsuits, but their faces were still exposed. I watched and filmed as they paddled out and then I sat waiting for someone to catch a wave. It was ten minutes of paddling and waiting to catch a wave. The ride lasts less than 30 seconds. My fingers were numb holding my iPhone.
The Maine Coast
A Billion Ways to See the Sea
The beauty of the angularity of the fingers of rock reaching out. The sea, its waves flowing in…it’s all here. We come, we stand to watch the solid, stationary rocks…an eternal presence, and the water surging, churning, rising, falling with the tides.
Where I was standing, a million people come each year to pay their respects to the lighthouse, “Portland Headlight” commissioned by George Washington in 1791.
Geese at the Beach
Thursday, March 9, 2022
Six geese were at the beach today, two big geese and four young geese. The geese were at a cobble beach called Ship’s Cove at Fort Williams where our famous lighthouse, Portland Headlight, is located at the entrance to Portland Harbor.
Fort Williams has cliffs and coves and hiking trails. It has ball fields, kid’s playgrounds, and in the winter, sliding hills and an ice skating pond. It’s got a fabulous hill overlooking the ocean for kite flying. It’s even got a section where dogs can run freely without leash. At 90 acres, it’s the best piece of public real estate in the State of Maine.
Today was gray, overcast with a sea breeze. The air temperature was 38°. The ocean temperature was 38°. The geese swimming about acted like it was a fine summer day in July.
Awesome Sledding area
This is one of the great places in Southern Maine for kids and their families to go sledding, Portland Headlight’s Fort Williams Park. Go anytime after a good snowstorm, especially on a weekend when hundreds of people show up with snow tubes, toboggans, and flying saucers. There is a valley that runs parallel to the entrance road to the park and it has sliding hills on either side. If Norman Rockwell was alive today, he would paint it for a cover of the Saturday Evening Post magazine. There is color, there is life, there is action, kids galore, and moms and dads, too.
Norman, when he set up his easel would be standing a bit closer to the action than our video view. He would capture the ocean and island beyond because they are magic and he would stand six feet to one side to catch the lighthouse that you can’t see in our video. I don’t believe there is a more beautiful sliding area anywhere on the East Coast.
Fort Williams is 12 minutes south of the Cross building in Downtown Portland. We show a still and video looking toward the ocean.
The Sugar Shack
Maine Maple Sunday Weekend
In March every year in Maine, we have dozens of Maple tree tapping and sugar shack locations open to visitors where you can see maple sap being boiled into syrup. Maine Maple Sunday Weekend is a fascinating behind-the-scenes chance to see real farm life and an opportunity to buy dozens of home-grown Maine maple products.
Could be a great late winter – early spring getaway. Details on who, what, where this year are online.
There are many locations to see sugar houses in operation. Here we show still photos and a video from a maple Sunday at Jillson’s Farm seven years ago. It’s a grand Maine experience.
This year’s Maine Maple Sunday Weekend is
March 26 and March 27
We like to go every year.
Summer with trees with green leaves and breezes that rustle in the shade is beautiful. This was a snowstorm several Februaries ago that was so perfect the trees bloomed white the next morning against a pure blue sky and full sun. We agreed, it was the most beautiful winter snow we’d ever seen. There are moments in Maine in the winter that absolutely make it worth it. Yes, winter with trees with white lacy branches is beautiful, too.
Kettle Cove, Cape Elizabeth. It was 16°, stiff wind out off the northeast, blue sky, full sun, sparkly light on the water. It would be quiet for awhile, then a series of big sea swells would rise to crest over by the island. The wind would catch, do a feathery blow back, then the sea would settle and do silvery sparkles around the lobster boat near shore. It’s magic, pure magic. Parking is free. Cost was just 15 minutes.
At our house in Cape Elizabeth, we have an Eastern exposure. When the seas are doing something interesting and we want another view we’ll take the truck over to Kettle Cove on the southwest corner of the cape.
On this day it was bitterly cold, 6° with a strong wind. Only dog walkers were out. They’re an awesome group of people: faithful, dedicated, committed to fresh air, exercise, and their animals. This young lady appeared at the banking and proceeded to run the beach for nearly half an hour.
I admire all dog owners for their steadfast loyalty to their dogs. She and her matching dogs were elegant on the beach.
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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