# 66 Higgins Beach: A Photo Essay


Higgins Beach.

A nor’easter moved off Cape Cod never reaching Maine while the surf from the storm pounded the more northern shores for three days. The waves, not large enough to be frightening, delighted visitors and residents alike and the surfers on Higgins Beach finally got some long rides. As the light on day four left the sky, all was right in the world.







#65 Sound and Silence

Sound and Silence.

It’s still too dark to see much outside but the roar of the surf says the predicted gale has moved up off the coast. Some weeks ago a marine forecast for a hurricane that moved north but stayed off shore, referred to predicted high surf as “large long period southeast swells”.

The awareness of big waves builds overnight, the human body conscious of the increasing roar; roiled waters are never quiet. It will be loud the rest of the day and, with this particular storm, loud for the next few days, a backdrop sound filling the house, shaking the windows, tilting pictures in frames on the walls, and rattling glassware in cupboards.

Storms bring intense sound even when the day is absent of speech. There are a few days like this each month, where from morning until night I do not speak out loud with anyone. Keyboards allow for silent communication while radio talk continues until the endless political blather wears down my spirit. With a click, I revert to the natural sounds around me.

Such days are mostly spent in silence but it is never soundless by the sea.

#64 Dump Run




Dump Run.

Each community has its own methods for collecting or hauling trash and recycling. The town where I live does not charge for these services however each household is responsible for getting our refuse to the Transfer Station which is open four days a week.  To make the dump run more interesting I often combine it with other tasks such as returning library books or going to the farm stand, a bit less boring and, hopefully more fuel efficient. Dump runs manage to be a fairly routine chore in all households.

On a recent dump run a young Red Tailed Hawk had perched on a light post beside the trash compactor. Thinking that it would take off at any second, I pulled slightly out of the lane to have a better look. The hawk had claimed the pole and wasn’t interested in budging and, joy, I had brought a camera. I snapped away, thrilled to be as close as I had ever been to one of these magnificent birds. My enthusiasm was not shared and one of the transfer station attendants came over to tell me to move out of the way because I was blocking the lane. The sting of reprimand stayed with me as I drove away understanding that the business at hand was not to be disrupted by the glorious proximity to wildlife.

For years I’ve talked about wanting a bumper sticker that declares “ Warning: I Brake for Birds”. I find myself ill suited to this rush-rush world zooming so fast and so caught in head thoughts, missing the world of nature that surrounds us.  Before I moved to Maine my work drive was always the longer route where open fields and woods hinted always of possibility. One frosty Fall morning a huge Eastern Coyote stood just inside a fence waiting for me to pass so he could be cross the road and be on his way. The field in which he was standing was filled with dried brown-gray grasses. The coyote was also brown-gray, and where he stood was in perfect harmony within light, white edgings of frost and those yellow coyote eyes. I stopped the car, without a camera, trying to imprint the perfection of the light and the creature in my mind’s eye. A red minivan approached and I waved my arm from my open window, an attempt to signal the driver to slow down enough to share this witness. The car was filled with children probably on their routine morning school run. I never knew if they saw the coyote.

Can you think of the magnificence you’ve witnessed from the windows of your car or house? Aren’t such memories of wildlife or landscape still with you?

I left the dump still stinging from the reprimand. I headed over to the marsh to see if a glimpse of a different critter could soothe my “you stepped out of line” embarrassment. Sure enough, there were shorebirds feeding in the last light of the day and the camera was still beside me.

Watching wild in all it’s beautiful manifestations always heals even if we have to step outside the acceptable bounds of the humans around us.


# 63 Waterfront


#63  Waterfront

There are so many different ways to love oceans. Have you experienced the feel of a small, working harbor in the early morning, both moving and moored boats filling in all the “spaces”,  serenity and bustle at the same time?

Do you love coves, tucked or nestled, perhaps just a tad claustrophobic, and almost always sweet? Surely you’ve been in ports, chalked full of sea commerce, definitely not conducive to exploration via kayak.; tankers, container and cruise ships, and the myriad varieties of vessels that hunt for food from the ocean, going in and out of busy, deep channels. 

Beaches are the places loved by most of us, especially those with hard, good-for- walking sand that stretch for miles, our wearied nerves soothed by the rhythmic waves, our eyes forever searching for discarded gems left behind by tides. We dive or walk into the waters, warm or not-so-warm, tingling, always slightly a tad wary, wondering about those things that call the beckoning water home.

Beloved are rocky shores feeling, and sounding, quite different from beaches, the rhythms more pressing and louder, the walking more of a challenge. They, too, hold discarded tidal gems but those are often much harder to get to and almost always far more battered.

And then there are glorious marshes. whose surface seems so placid, the teeming life and death struggles in them more apparent to those long on patience and having magnified lenses. Those beautiful marshes, bulldozed, maligned, abandoned, then filled in, misused and misunderstood by humans for centuries, we humans not knowing them for the sources of life they contain. Houses beside marshland are every bit as in danger as those perched perilously close to shore; the steady, quieter rise of water as capable of tearing houses apart as crashing waves. 

We flock to bays, capes, peninsulas, islands, estuaries, open ocean waters, wanting to feel life by the vastness of water wildness. We are drawn by ocean and the range of experience we find in its proximity. This continues even while we monitor our screens showing videos and photos illustrating its destructive powers. Hurricanes seem to be growing larger, the death tolls rising, the property destruction catastrophic. Will the force of these storms drive us humans away from the solace or retreat we feel or once felt, the pull of life beside ocean waters beaten by the reality of no-way-to survive a Cat Five bearing down on its next location? Ours?