Friday, March 19, 2010
Adrift. Awe. Artists. Totems.
Good morning. Here I sit and wonder what to share...my drive to the ocean Wednesday? The story of the artist I met there and the few words we spoke, just two strangers in passing- connecting? Or the sea faring stranger at Annabell's in Lubec who said several years ago he made a giant shift and took to the sea after being a crane operator for years? Yeah...let's go there.
Roque's Bluff, right outside of Machias Maine is the place I headed to the first full weekend after the big move to the Bold Coast from the Midwest, where the sea foam met my landlocked shoes for the first time. On Wednesday- the weather was beautiful, Spring was in the air but not so much in the earth yet. I had constructed a cloche or mini hoophouse the day before, removing all debris and turf from a strip of land 50' long and 3' wide with my wheel hoe. The hoops went in, the plastic went on and I preceded to anchor the whole shebang with earth at it's perimeter. Whew! My wintered shoulders ached from the motion, and I found myself hoping the muscles remembered the physical memories of wrenching the turf off of the still somewhat frozen ground. With all the seeds started inside, hopefully soon the Golden Cabbage starts would find in their new sheltered home- a place to grow and thrive.
On that March morning, with the sun shining and the breeze gently lifting I embarked on a seashore adventure. The first thing I noticed upon arriving was that the gentle breeze had turned into an ocean wind, leaving the waves choppy and my face thoroughly chapped. I gathered rocks together to make what I call a totem "to all good things that never end." That's how I hooked the artist's interest. She found me sitting on a warm boulder there by the sea and wondered out loud if I was the one who constructed the cairn she came across.
"Yes" I said, " I did."
"What does it mean?" her curiosity getting the best of her I suppose..."The cairn?"
"Oh, that's right- that's what they're called! It's my totem to all good things that never end."
I remember feeling self conscious- as if this was an odd thing to do, to get caught doing. I went on to say that I often do that at waterways, stacking just the right rocks, balancing them- not sure why, just felt right in doing so.
Through a brief conversation, I discovered she was from St. Louis originally, moved to Maine and collected sea glass, driftwood and items that somehow she saw life in or a spirit I guess, especially after she constructed her finds into sculpture- she said as she put things together, the old discarded items became things of beauty- art.
I asked her if the big birds floating near the shore were loons-(I hadn't seen any all winter, and never any that close...)
"Yes, they mate for life." She added.
As she walked away, our pleasantries ending- I thanked her for talking with me. That stopped her in her tracks, she turned and smiled for me-"No problem. Have a good one."
I often feel a loner here in Maine, but to be honest- I've always been a loner somewhat. I like my solitude, my own company- I see diamonds when the tide comes in and goes back out- dragging the sands through the sunshine, transforming them into tinkling grains. Awestruck I am...and I don't meet many that see those visions and again I mention, I often feel self conscious for seeing things like that- let alone trying to convey it. The Big Fish says he watches me and wonders just what it is I see that keeps me somewhat in a trance. I can feel the blush rise on my cheeks when I get caught in my "awe" fazes.
The sea captain was a big man- eyes that were deep as the ocean, one a bit cockeyed and watery. He was a loner too I suspected. I learned from him that he did not like his food to touch...at all. Casseroles were definitely out of his diet and corn beef and cabbage was best smothered in vinegar.
"Do you feel adrift, ever?!" I prodded.
Those eyes searched my face, hmmmm- there was a question to ponder.
"Yeah, especially after moving from a very lucrative business operating a crane to days upon days of floats, then back to the land doing nothing. I made good money, now- I make just enough."
"Were you scared, doubtful of that move...ever?!"
"Certainly...and for some time."
"Are you satisfied now?" I shyly asked, scared that I took the conversation a bit over the edge.
There again, that face- those deeper feeling, seeing eyes-"You're never satisfied, sweetheart- never. But you have to change your direction if you're growing one way and yearning to grow in another way that your current growth will never take you..."
No more questions from me, I became quiet as did he. I didn't expect an answer like that and yet- perhaps that was the growing kind of answer I was searching for. Or the validation at my age I had contended I no longer needed.
I collected white rocks that day, blistering white and smoothed free of blemishes by the sea- those treasures end up in a potpourri of sorts, in an old wooden bowl. I can pick them up years from now, tumble them through my hands- and the stories they'll recall will be the same as I told here today. Adrift. Awe. Artists. Totems. Sea captains who are never satisfied and cannot stomach casseroles...