Maine being a state of contrasts between the soaring conifers and the diminutive Lady Slipper orchid overwhelms visitors. People who are new to the state gravitate toward the largeness – the vast oceans, the daunting pink granite boulders, the never-ending forests. Awe inspiring yes but natives know that the tastiest, most poignant treasures are actually the overlooked.
Joanne Parisi once sent me an email that made my day. “There is an orchid growing in your yard that indicates that faeries are about. It’s a single lady slipper – demure, perfectly pink and rare. Dom and I paid homage to it on our walk today. Your land is blessed.”
Yes, our land is truly blessed with small and rare delights. All of Maine is blessed.
The native strawberries and wild blueberries are ridiculously small and nowhere as beautiful as those we can buy in a grocery store – but never will one taste a berry that is sweeter or more filled with flavor than these seemingly insignificant morsels. One taste of a warm native strawberry makes a person realize that all one’s life what was referred to as a strawberry (no matter how large and luscious looking) was like a beautiful woman who has no heart. There’s a soul in the small joys of Maine.
The tidal coves are like that. Newcomers all want deep water frontage and none will deny the majestic sight ridicules the view of mudflats. Deer Isle has 12-13’ tides. At times the shore front in front of our house seems almost overflowing and that’s when my husband and sons launch kayaks and the Whitehall boat. I wave to them as they take off to explore the coast, knowing they will be back within 5 hours before the tide goes out leaving us with a mud flat cove.
When we first purchased the property I was amazed at how many islanders came up to us exclaiming about the beauty and magic of our little cove. “It’s not deep water property,” I would modestly counter only to have them patiently explain that this had no relevance. I’ve now watched the cove through many seasons, and countless tides and understand unique wonder of a saltwater tidal cove.
Ugly mud flats? Not to us! During low tides we can gather the famous Maine clams and mussels or stay very quiet and wait for the animals to come. While the high tides bring out people, low tides bring hungry wildlife. It is during low tide that the herons, gulls, ducks, beavers, and minks come to scavenge for food.
Just as one anticipates the Spring during those dark days of February and March, one looks out at the cove during low tide and smiles in anticipation of watching the water slowly roll back in and then out again. This gentle movement and the changing scenery entices me to stand out on the balcony and just watch. It’s meditative, peaceful, and calm.
Feeling more active? You can stroll for miles along the shore front in low tide, unimpeded by private lawns or the need to scramble over granite boulders. The low tide reveals caves and sea life hidden during the high tide.
What is more common and lowly than a leach field for a septic system? Ah, but plant wildflower seeds on such a hill and you have such splendor!
I do agree with Dr. Bruce W. Chambers who wrote: “Maine is not like any place else. As if by magic—or divine intent—its storms are more powerful, its mountains more primordial, its seas more imposing and mysterious, its people hardier, and its flowers more colorful, than anywhere else on earth. There seems to be a special joy attached to Maine, a magnetic attraction not only to its unique beauty but also to its soul-cleansing power. No artist who has ever painted in Maine has left there unchanged.”
However if you really want to experience the joys of Deer Isle, I urge you to look beyond the travel photos and the obvious.
(Photos by Bob Wilson http://bobwilsonphotos.com/gallery.html )
Be well and dream great!