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And the Child Shall Lead

Saturday, December 5, 2015

There's this thing that happens when you're visiting a place and a person for a short while, in which you try to maximize your time together. You try to hit all the high points, and you worry that you're not doin' it rite. Are we doing everything we can? Everything we should? Are we wasting precious hours?

Maine takes care of that for us. Phoebe does, too. We wanted to take in one of her classes. We wanted to eat quiche at Wild Oats. And then she told us she wanted to take us to the Giant Steps for sundown. She'd been there with a Bowdoin College field trip, and wanted us to see it, too. Because: Pangaea. Click the link for a Wiki page with a cool little animation that shows the bust-up of the giant continent into the shrimpy little ones we know now. 

For those unwilling to leave, and who can blame you... a Zick's notes. As far as I can tell, in the early-middle Jurassic, about 175 million years ago, Africa's northwest coast busted off of a place we would eventually name Maine and started drifting north and east, forming the beautiful Atlantic ocean, now stretched before us, shimmering in sunset colors. It blew my tiny mind to think that I was standing on a rock that finds its twin somewhere on the west coast of Africa. And that I am lucky enough to have stood on that continent, too.

This our daughter told us as we stood on uptilted rocks, tossed and immobile in a frozen paroxysm of granite, basalt and quartz. 
I didn't tell Bill and Phee to dress in harmonious colors. It just happened. 

The Giant Steps. The dark rocks in the middle are basalt from the ocean's floor, that rose up and broke through the granite in the big wrench apart. 

The sky was going wild with peach and turquoise, lavender and slate. We didn't know what to look at next. Sunsets can be like that.

 As often happens, I like the outtake better than the shot I'd planned. "Liam. Can you please move to your right? I'm trying to get Daddy and Phoebe together." And I caught his little lip hangin' out, his fist clenched; both of those things just as they were when he was four; Phoebs laughing at his truculent stomp, his desire to always be spooking around, kelly green, in a pewter and gray composition. This photo makes me smile so big.

So does this one...

Oh my gosh. He's all still there. Just stretched out, like hot taffy. Liam, big now, but all six feet of him still Liam.

He disappeared, and I called him...I saw his hat on a rock...what happened to Liam? 
LIAM?! Where did you go?

Just bein' Gollum, deep in the bowels of Gondwanaland. You'd be sorry if I never reappeared...
Yes, you goober! Get up out of Le Crevasse! (whippsnake!)


We looked at the power of water, written on rock.  There must have been an ancient river here, flowing to the sea for a very long time, wearing the rock down, Phoebe said. 
Oh. Yes. Yes! You must be right.

Our child is showing us things now, after so many years of our showing things to her.  (Gaff!)

When we could tear ourselves away from the rocks, the sunset was going on in a 350 degree panorama all around us.  The cottage: deserted for the winter. What a shame. 

Because in this view were a black guillemot, a razorbill (!!!!!), and a gang of common eider, all very close in. The drake eider, in full graphic tuxedoed
 glory. Of course, you can't see them. The iPhone takes a large view only.

That was the first razorbill I'd seen in full winter plumage, and the only one I'd seen well using only binoculars. Prior to this, they'd only been whitish dots on the sea, through a scope, far off Bass Rocks on the north shore of Massachusetts, sometime in the mid 1970's. And though my friends who were more experienced birders than I had assured me that was what I was seeing, I was never able to see enough through the Bushnell Spacemaster spotting scope to be sure. And now this bird, popping up like a rubber ducky holding a book of matches in its bill, so close that both Bill and I gasped and babbled, trying to call it what it was. 
It's an auk, and it looks like this in winter: 

Photo by Susan Marschalk Green, Tampa Bay Times

Phoebe showed us little garnets embedded in the rocks. They were tiny and red and much harder than the surrounding granite, so they stood out like zits.  We, taking our glasses off to see better. Sigh.

All the while, the full moon was rising.  So we had to keep an eye on that, too. 
You can just pick her out below the shelf of violet clouds, to the left of the moon-child, Phoebe.

The auks and the eiders, the clouds and the rocks, the waves and the garnets. 

The moon and our beautiful kids.

This full moon photo was taken at 4:15 pm. 

Bailey Island, they say, hides her daylight away when the nights of November come early.


You took me away with this post. Beautiful.

My first visit to the Giant Steps was on a wild and woolly October morning - cold, windy, rainy, crashing surf. My husband and I ran into an intrepid group of elderly women, all bundled up, a few of them gripping canes or another's arm as they made their way down the path to the Steps. They were laughing and chattering like children, and asked me to take their picture. As I did, I sent up a silent prayer that I would be just like them when I grow up. Bailey Island is a magical place.

Posts like this shower me with the gift of your words and your dear friendship. Just so beautiful, my friend. XO

It does not get much better than that day, dear.

Beautiful blog post for so many reasons. Thank you for this gift this fine Sunday morning.

Is it possible that the rounded boulders are glacials erratics? We have similarly rounded quartz rocks deposited in the northern part of NJ as the glaciers retreated. The rounding suggests that the wear was created by rolling and I wonder if a stream would have sufficiently high energy to do this.

Beautiful, wonderful.

Posted by Gail Spratley December 6, 2015 at 7:56 AM

Between this post and your Thanksgiving Day recap post, i have used up a few tissues wiping away happy tears. Gorgeous, heartbreakingly beautiful words and photos filled with such love. I could hardly believe my eyes when I realized you were all on Bailey Island! That place holds sweet memories for several generations of my family; I have some precious vintage photos taken on those very same rocks/Giant Steps c. 1910-1914 with the women all dressed in their huge hats, white shirtwaists and long skirts. My uncle was the schoolteacher at the tiny schoolhouse on the island during the years right after WWII. Have you ever read "The Pearl of Orr's Island" by Harriet Beecher Stowe? If you can make your way past her heavy handed New England fire and brimstone leanings and focus on the story and her achingly evocative descriptions of the island which read like poetry, you will be richly rewarded. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing with us. ~ gretchen

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