ghost ships, fog, and harbors

I was consumed yesterday with another writing project.  I did not see the outdoors until mid-afternoon and, even then, it provided only a very brief respite from the tyranny of the work at hand.

Fog prevailed then as it does today. However, not all was lost. When I finally walked outside in what was a foggy sun, I strolled onto a narrow road where paths branched off into woodlands. I was not on the path for long when this apparition appeared.

Ghost Ship No.1 © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

There it was, a rather large empty hull, resting in this woodland graveyard.

Ghost Ship No. 2 © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

The air was beginning to feel very damp, the kind that seeps into the marrow of your bones, so I decided to get back to the main road and though the path was long, dark, and mysterious, I finally saw the light of water through a cluster of autumnal-colored trees of dark reds, glittering golds, and blue-purple hues on their trunks.

Through the Trees © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

Once again on the tiny “main” road, I walked a bit further and another harbor opened into view as fog descended rapidly from the ocean side as well as the mountains. One image after another took my breath away. For is there anything that literally stops a moment-in-time more than a harbor  scene in Maine as a swirling, dancing fog creates an opacity of varying degrees to all one looks upon?

As Fog Descends No.1 © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan
As Fog Descends No.2 © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan
As Fog Descends No.3 © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

Alas, the tyrannical project was waiting my return. I was chilled and there was diminishing visibility as the minutes waned in concert with the fog’s descent.

Ensconced again in my temporary home, I made a pot of Assam tea … always freshly brewed and taken with milk. I stoically settled in for what I believed was an arduous task ahead, only to find that my fears were for naught. The writing proceeded more smoothly than earlier in the day, and to my delight was ninety-percent complete.

I mentioned earlier in this writing, that we have a thick, heavy fog today. However, I am near the end of my stay and am going to explore what I can of Schoodic Point, the southern most tip of Schoodic Peninsula. Because the Point lies fully exposed to the ocean, its rocky shore is pounded by powerful waves when storms birth huge swells in the Gulf of Maine. The surf can be spectacular, especially on BIG weather days and rogue waves have been known to sweep spectators off the rocks!

Visiting Schoodic Point is a return adventure for me from twenty-four years ago when I set out, somewhat reluctantly, on a very rainy day, to walk on the rocks-of-time. And, I hope, truly hope, I can provide you with some pictures and the story tomorrow.

In the gift of this new day,

in the gift of the present moment,

let me be thankful

let me be attentive

let me be open to what has never happened before.

~Excerpt from J.Philip Newell, Sounds of the Eternal

rainy days

It rained yesterday. Today too. And, it is forecasted for most of the week. But with my days here dwindling I took to the road and hidden pathways anyway. I mingled with the the drizzle and fog, filling my camera with pictures and my spirit with solace.

I passed through Somesville many times traveling between Bar Harbor and Southwest Harbor. It was the first permanent town on Mount Desert. In 1761, Abraham Somes sailed from Gloucester, Massachusettes and built a log cabin on the shore of this well-protected harbor. It is an impeccable Maine village with clapboard houses, well-kept gardens, pristine views of anything the eye looks upon. There is one well-known feature on Mount Desert that resides in Somesville. The Selectman’s House, now a small museum, boasts an arched footbridge leading to beautiful gardens. It is a good thing that the speed limit is very low in Somesville, because this eye-catcher stops traffic.

Somesville, Maine © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

Frederic Church, one of the most famous artists in America during the mid-1800s and an important part of the Hudson River School, stayed in Somesville for about a month in 1855. It is reported in various guide books that he and Thomas Cole almost single-handedly catapulted Mount Desert to its fame through their paintings.

After Somesville, I parked my car on a hidden lane and walked slowly through the mist not looking for anything for the scent of salt air filled my senses leaving little else I could want or need in the moment. My camera was with me though tucked under my rain poncho so it was safe from rain should it begin to pour again. I came across a peaceful yet haunting meadow. The stark, dried red and gold sea grass against the dark green pines created an inner contentment just to look upon it and wonder: what animals cross it or why is it so isolated and does anyone ever look at it to appreciate its stillness and calm. It was palpable to me.

Forgotten Meadow © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

I continued my trek on this narrow road and walked up a steep hill only to look down at a small harbor! When I reached the wharf and asked the name of the harbor, no one seemed to know. But it was filled with boats, fishermen, lobster crates, and a small fishing shack that looked like it was caught in amber.

Caught in Amber © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

Turning around to look at the mountains, I felt as if I were standing in a Norman Rockwell painting.

Unknown Harbor © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

I walked back to the car and decided to drive further but really didn’t care where. It was raining hard and the windshield wipers were doing an aerobic workout to keep up.  I continued on and the rain stopped as suddenly as it started. By that time, I decided to go to Bar Harbor for I wanted to say goodbye to a potter I befriended and whose work I admired, and a rainy day is perfect for doing that sort of thing.

I thought I was on the right road but those who know that I get lost even on a well marked trail, probably also know what I am about to say. I was lost. How does one get lost on Mount Desert between Southwest Harbor and Bar Harbor? In my defense, I wasn’t so much “lost” as I didn’t know exactly what road I was on and whether I was going north or south. Ordinarily one would say that it is an important distinction whether one goes north or south. However, everything loops around on Mount Desert so to me it didn’t matter.

It turns out that I was driving south on Route 3 into Bar Harbor. I had not been that way before and it turned out to be arresting.

South on Route 3 No.1 © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

When it is cloudy, I find that colors and auras stand out even more than when the sun brightly shines because they are not competing with the hues of the sky, long shadows, or reflective light bouncing in unwanted directions. Here is yet another view of marsh grasses, wetlands, and pines … all of which abound in Acadia.

South on Route 3 No.2 © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

All in all, not a bad rainy day. My only regret is that on my way home I stopped at the Little Notch Bakery in Southwest Harbor, had a robust cup of French roast coffee, and, sadly, another blueberry tart.

I still have great expectations that I will get to Schoodic Point this week before I leave. If not, I just made arrangements to return to the sweet cottage I rented my first week here for three weeks in October next year.

There is a lifetime of photographic opportunities in this pristine land and coastal Maine has a way of working its magic on me. I hope I have passed some of that magic on to you.

Be well. Be safe. Give gratitude.

bass harbor, maine – sunday

Today is a day of rest. I settled into the new house rental yesterday with a little bit of  ‘Sturm und Drang’, but that is past and all is well. I managed a four-mile walk this morning and then got to the serious business of food. The winds were up and the tall pines were dancing as colder air arrived. There is no better time to prepare good food then during the first chill of autumn. I have a pot of vegetable soup simmering on the stove with all local farm produce: orange carrots, yellow carrots, parsnips, celery, onion, tender bits of broccoli, two red potatoes, herbs, spices … all in a chicken broth. Brown basmati rice  is also steaming and sitting next to me is a pot of freshly brewed Assam tea. The only thing missing is a sweet. There should always be a cookie or some small sweet to go with afternoon tea. The absence of something sugary though does not diminish the perfection of the moment or the day.

Fog awaited the morning light. I had sworn that I would not work today. No writing. No pictures. Nevertheless, I strolled out as soon as light appeared. My romance with Bass Harbor and its surroundings began: it  took my heart and held it gently in its grasp.

Bass Harbor, Sunday Morning © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

I am always in awe when I find small, unexpected things to have the elegance and grace of this simple backyard pastoral view of the Harbor. Those who see it every day no longer register that it exists. But it does and it is beautiful.

Bass Harbor View No.1 © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

While walking away and looking back once more, there was another vantage point I had to capture. The lobster pound, boats, and houses appeared as if they stepped out of a painting … just for you and me.

Bass Harbor View No. 2 © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

I walked back to the house thinking about my good fortune to be here. It is a gift of grace and a blessing. I downloaded what I believed to be the only pictures of the day. However, not too much later, the sun began its flirtation with the clouds and it managed to break through for a few minutes. I grabbed the camera to see what I could see. How variations in light change the mood, the subject, and the color.

Bass Harbor View No. 3 © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

I was eager to get back inside as the winds were picking up again and the clouds finally won the day now casting yet a different, haunting light. Ah, but when I turned around to leave, there was one ordinary thing that became the center of my universe for a moment. A modest, simple, and everyday occurrence. Yet, so worthy.

Bass Harbor View No. 4 © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

I have many roads and trails to travel and ferry boats to catch this week. I remain concerned about the amount of time I have allowed myself to do this work. Nevertheless, I know I am doing what God has given me to do in the time available. And, there is another project (along with fifteen or so other artists) for Hudson Valley Wine Magazine to which I must return to continue my work. This is a grand year-long celebration of Art + Wine. You can get to know the Magazine and read about “The Celebration” event at  http://hudsonvalleyartandwine.com/about-the%C2%A0celebration/
or my participation at   http://bit.ly/cDWwYj

Be well and blessings to all …

the witch hole pond

Today there is rain. It is off-on again as it cleanses the earth and performs nature’s ritual of baptism. Coastal Maine has an aura about it when it rains unlike any other place I have visited. Perhaps it is the communion of salt air and the scent of pine: potent yet calming.

Bar Harbor Rain © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

My day has been spent in a flurry of small activities: packing, organizing, and doing last minute errands before I leave the Bar Harbor area for Bass Harbor and Southwest Harbor tomorrow morning. I managed to take one more picture of the view fifty paces from my cottage and loved what I saw. One boat. Alone. Not even a seagull.

Calm © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

While today is not at its close, it is yesterday with which I want to fill your eyes. After an intense morning of writing, phone calls, and a three-mile walk, I finally sat down to breakfast at noon. I was up well before sunrise and I cannot imagine how or why I allowed myself to go so long without food. I mention this only because it becomes relevant to my hike at Witch Hole Pond.

I started out about two o’clock at the entrance to the carriage road that loops around The Pond. It is a three-mile walk with some steep grades but nothing serious. Since I ate breakfast late, I only took a fruit and nut bar plus my water. With my camera backpack containing cameras, lenses, and tripod, I carried about twenty-five pounds. Because I walk between three and four miles almost every day, I did not think this mere three-mile trek would be any problem at all.

My first stop was when I reached the actual pond at Witch Hole. There are no words to describe this unaltered place and it would be futile for me to try. Here is the first image I took.

Witch Hole Pond No.1 © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

I walked another mile, maybe less, and decided to drink some water. I looked around and another vantage point of this great Pond presented itself in a different light. I had to capture it.

Witch Hole Pond No.2 © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

It was just after taking this image and walking another half-mile that I became ravenously hungry to the point of a hypoglycemic attack. I took off my backpack and grabbed the fruit and nut bar cursing myself for not having packed something more substantial. As a means of soothing my angry stomach, I reasoned that this was only three miles and I was almost finished with the loop. So, I walked on and on and on until I had to stop and take more water hoping it would fill my stomach.

Once again the break for water surfaced a new facet of the Pond after the continuous, stunning panoramic views. I love the intimacy of this image because it says I am rarely seen for I hug the shore of this great Pond. And, I have never been touched by anything other than the hands of time and nature’s will.

Witch Hole Pond No.3 © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

I continued my walk with an irritability building due to what I was beginning to believe was the onset of starvation as I came across a stump in a very shallow part of the Pond. I forgot all about being hungry and experimented with different lenses (perhaps in the back of my mind lurked a hope that an old chocolate bar would fall out of  my backpack, but alas, it did not) and took this picture.

Witch Hole Pond No.4 © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

I was so thrilled about this image that there was a new spring to my step and I walked further on knowing that at any moment I would be heading back down towards the visitor’s center where my trek began. But no. I found I was walking up hill once again and in so doing encountered this old bridge and the road across the bridge. A note: I am not certain if this is a cobble bridge or granite or perhaps both.  When I learn more, I will update this writing. However, I do know that the road across the bridge is a wide carriage road of small, loose stone (as are the carriage trails) built for horse and carriage rides in the 1800s by the wealthy patrons of Bar Harbor. There are many carriage roads to traverse in Acadia.

Old Bridge at Witch Hole Pond © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan
Bridge Road © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

I was losing light by this time and I knew something was wrong. I believed I followed all the posted signs yet I seemed to be the only person left on the path. The bikers, walking couples, and runners had vanished. I finally started a descent and saw the sign to Hull’s Cove and the visitor’s center. Relief passed over me. As I walked into the parking lot though, I saw that my car was the only one there. I don’t know what happened but when I got into my car and saw that it was past five o’clock, I realized I had walked for three hours.

I drove to the nearest restaurant and am embarrassed to tell you what I consumed: a steaming bowl of New England clam chowder, every oyster cracker I could summon up, a buttered roll, broiled haddock, a baked potato not only with sour cream but butter too, sugar snap peas and baby carrots in more butter … all washed down with homemade vanilla ice cream and hot chocolate sauce. I could have stuffed even more into myself. So, a lesson learned: take enough food on a hike. Even a small one. My only consolation was that I walked about seven miles between my morning walk and afternoon trek.

When I arrived home, there was little light left but I noticed a slight bit of pink-orange through the pine trees so I walked around the corner to the water’s edge with camera in hand just in case I was right. And I was. Another beautiful sunset … almost gone.

Acadia Sunset © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

Tomorrow I arrive on the west side of Mount Desert between Southwest Harbor and Bass Harbor. More to come in a few days.

the visitors

A long time ago, well before any of us were born, there was a land far, far away. On this land, in thickened woods so deep that no one ever thought to venture in, stood a one-room cottage made of stucco and pine. In the cottage lived a very old man. His hair fell like silver strands of silk to his shoulders and his beard, soft and  flowing, was so long that it reached the very top of his belt buckle. His hands were knobby and he was slightly hunched over. In the middle of the room, he sat on a three-legged stool at a large, rectangular table made of pine and hand-hewn wooden nails. He crafted the stool and table with his own hands maybe a hundred years ago … or even more. But if anyone ever did see him, which no one had for many years, they would be drawn to his emerald green eyes that had a beguiling sparkle even as an old man.

In addition to the pine table, a small oak bed with a cover created out of cloth scraps, leather, and fur was housed in one corner. A stone fireplace consumed one wall and in it hung a cauldron for cooking whatever he could grow for food. The floor was made of rough, wide-planked timber. In front of the fireplace, precisely laid, was a rug of colorful rags woven together over the years as he gathered pieces here and there. The room, his world, was neat, spare, and simple. He made candles for light since in the old man’s time and place, there was no electricity, not even kerosene for lamps. Yet, he made huge openings for what we call windows and doors so that daylight and sunsets would beam through to his world-within-a-world. These openings had no glass.  Instead he used leather and wood to cover them and shelter himself from the elements. The old man was never lonely though for he had one companion: a large white wolf. She sat by his side and was as ancient as he. Her name was Gaia.

A Cottage in Time © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

The work the old man did at his table was mysterious. There were bottles of potions, crystals and rocks of all sorts as well as herbs fresh and dried hanging from old beams. On this particular day, he sat at his table eating a vegetable stew using his wooden bowl and spoon when for the first time in more than a hundred years he heard something outside his door. This was not an animal scratching or a chipmunk scurrying nor the red squirrels running about gathering their staples for the onset of winter. The sound he and Gaia heard was a series of knocks. One! Two!! Three!!! Because autumn had fully arrived with cold nights and frosty mornings, his door and windows were covered with leather curtains so he saw no one approaching and no one could see him.

Gaia rose slowly and walked with stealth to the door and waited. She always guarded the old man and though her instincts told her not to be concerned, she nevertheless preceded him to the door. The old man reached for a most unusual walking  stick. It was carved from ironwood in the pattern of a diamondback snake. When he reached the door with Gaia at his right side he flung it open and bellowed with the roar of the ocean, “Who is it that comes to this cottage?”

What he saw before him was a curious site. There were two small children, a boy and girl about seven or eight years of age, with bright red hair, lots of freckles and round, blue eyes like the deep waters that surrounded the woods in which the old man lived. Next to them was a snowshoe hare, quite an ancient soul himself, well beyond the age of what any snowshoe hare had a right to be. Gaia’s eyes, the color of copper (for her eyes always changed  to reflect the color she looked upon), were steadfast on the girl, boy, and hare. When the children heard the old man’s booming voice and saw the white wolf, the little girl stood a bit straighter hoping to hide her uneasiness and answered, “Sir, it is I  and my brother with our snowshoe hare, Parsley, who have come to see you.” Well, following these spoken words, it took only a split of a second for everything to change in all of their worlds. You see, they were ….

the unexpected

I saw my dear friend, Susanna, yesterday. The brief time we planned to be together unfolded from an hour to a full afternoon. It had been six years since we last saw one another, yet there was not a pause nor a  false start to our conversation. We merely picked up where we left off, did some grocery shopping at the local food co-operative, and bought candles and incense. However, my plans to hike around Southwest Harbor never occurred and my camera laid on the passenger seat in my car. What emerged though out of this visit with Susanna was that one week here was not enough for me to do the work I hoped and planned to do. I called the realtor who rented me the cottage in which I am currently residing only to find that it was not available next week. She did find a house in Bass Harbor and though the house is modest, the view is not. I visited there after I signed the lease to discover a private dock.

Private Dock © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

I spent the day in, around, and through both Southwest Harbor and Bass Harbor. I spoke with many people, met many dogs of all sorts and sizes, ate a blueberry tart that was a religious experience and took pictures I did not expect to take.

This house caught my attention. It is on Main Street in Southwest Harbor. Grand, old, and noble.

Main Street, Southwest Harbor © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

The large homes, and small, all have these voluptuous brown-pink hydrangeas. They are everywhere and happen to be one of my favorite flowers. I could not resist.

Hydrangea Bush at Anne's Pointe © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

I changed my lens to a macro and experimented with this vision.

The Portal © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

The blueberry tart weighed heavily on my mind even though I walked three miles in the morning. I knew I had to hike before I lost important light and I needed to make a dent into some of those blueberry tart calories I consumed. I drove a few miles on what seemed a back road and came across a trail called The Shipyard. It said it was 1.3 miles and I knew I could easily do that. What I did not know was that the trail, in fact, comprised a figure eight loop. I got turned around again and again and saw no one on the path for some time. However, a couple eventually emerged from the opposite direction and told me I had to retrace my steps to get to the parking area. During all of my looping though, my camera was in hand and I saw this image, which reminded me of a painting from the Hudson River School.

On The Path © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

Bass Harbor has a Head Lighthouse that I thought I would investigate. As some of you know, I am a contrarian at times and while I would love to present the Lighthouse here, I saw some other things that took precedence, at least for today. The walkway to the Lighthouse is rustic and unkempt … a rough, imperfect beauty.

The Lighthouse Walkway © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

And this small outbuilding stood along the walkway to the Lighthouse. Its burnt-sienna color against the greens, blues, and softened hues of the grasses reminded me of another time in another place.

Little Red Building © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

As I departed Bass Harbor and drove on yet another less traveled road, I pulled off to watch the gulls and crows fly free with total abandonment. Two people joined me, we chatted, and they were so interested in my work that they told me about lesser known paths and trails they discovered in their forty years of vacationing in Southwest Harbor. This was so gracious and unexpected. As they departed, I looked up to see the singular beauty of sky, mountains, and trees. I sent a silent hosanna to the heavens as I took my final picture of the day.

Looking Up © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

I often wonder at the end of a day if I fulfilled my purpose. I never really know but I am pleased with my efforts this day. I met fine people, played with wonderful dogs named Otis, Jack, Kelly, and Miranda, ate good food, enjoyed the beauty of Maine, and gave thanks to our beloved planet.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

There are ways of seeing and sensitivities of knowing

hidden deep within the palace of the soul.

That I may give voice to what I hear in my soul

and be changed for the healing of the world,

that I may listen for truth in every living soul

and be changed for the well-being of the world.

~ Excerpted from J. Philip Newell, Sounds of the Eternal

remnant

A Celtic Psalter

In the many details of this day

let me be fully alive.

In the handling of food and the sharing of drink,

in the preparing of work and the uttering of words,

in the meeting of friends and the interminglings of relationship

let me be fully alive to each instant, let me be fully alive.

~J. Philip Newell, Sounds of the Eternal

I awakened to an early morning chill announcing the arrival of autumn and an assured prophecy of winter. I turned the heat on to take the chill out of the air, for a wood stove in this weather would over heat this small cottage.

I travel to Blue Hill today to meet a soul-sister; a dear, lovely friend whom I have known for years. We will meet for only an hour or two for she works three jobs to keep herself afloat. But, see each other we must. No matter how brief.

From there I head back to Acadia for a hike yet unknown. I have maps, my cameras and tripod in a backpack, water, and sustenance. Who knows what will, or will not, unfold … let me be fully alive to each instant!

In my slow meanderings yesterday I came across a remnant. There it stood, abandoned long ago, mirroring itself in the water. A small gull sat on a broken piling like a mystic ghost watching over this architectural form whose character and soul live on. Is this weathered skeleton an old lobster catch or hold for smaller crates? No one was around to ask. I was there though along with the shadowy gull as my witness and the exquisite remnant … standing there for me and the shutter release of my camera.

Remnant © 2010 Lee Anne Morgan

It is time for my morning walk. The gulls and crows are vocalizing, there is a brisk breeze jostling the trees, and I feel whole … utterly complete. There is nothing I could possibly want in this moment other than what is, though there is much I wish and pray for in our world.

Blessings to all and may each of us be fully alive in each moment.