If you’re a serious boater on the Maine coast, you’ve anchored in spruce lined harbors and slept aboard your boat in many island coves. There is the spruce scent, salt air, and seaweed-at-the-shore aromas that echo in your memories. They are like the sound of waves, bell buoys in the channel, and the ringing sound of lines on the aluminum mast. We know you have sat, many mornings, boat side with a cup of coffee as the sun rises, the fog lifts, and gulls from the islands head to the mainland in search of breakfast.
Could you ever explain this to someone who only knows Maine by car? Yes, maybe bits and pieces. What you know, though, through the eyes of a captain at sea is the rough, raw, real rush of Maine by the sea, the exultant beauty of your trips to new harbors and wakening to a new day.
Today I spoke with a regular Maine visitor on the telephone. She said they come every year. She told me her favorite place is a peninsula in Boothbay, a cabin on the shore with an awesome tidal range, blue water, sky, waves, salt air, and pine scent. “There is no place like it on earth,” she said. I agreed. And yes, she said pine scent. I’ll bet, though, her pines were Spruce trees. Spruce grows better in salt air; pines are more often found around lakes.
My son and I visited a lobsterman and his wife for a weekend out on Criehaven Island. Criehaven is Maine’s outermost inhabited island. The island is covered with spruce trees. I remember late one afternoon hiking the length of the island through spruce forests to the very western tip of Criehaven where a small wooden sign at the end of the island said “Land’s End”…spruce trees all the way down the crest of the island to the rock cliff edges.
Most Maine islands are spruce clad. Spruce must be salt spray tolerant because a short distance inland on the mainland many other tree varieties begin to show. Nature selects what grows best for the land, soil, wind and rain. Nature has chosen spruce for Maine’s coast and islands.
This Harpswell island is a perfect little island on the coast of Maine because you can quite literally drive to it. The parking lot serves fishermen as well as locals. The last time we went, parking was free (and probably still is). This was a cold day in April, air temp 28°, wind from the sea. The island anytime you go is magic.
Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Pink sky at night, sailor is reasonably well pleased.
Found this painting in a Brunswick antique shop. Shows a moment in time, probably after a fierce winter. Spruce trees recover, fill out, and green up eventually.
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