It’s a game we play every Monday and it begins on Sunday. The first one to ask, “Where are we going to hike tomorrow?” wins. That person doesn’t have to choose the location and therefore can’t be held responsible if it turns out to be a lousy decision. Yesterday, I won. But my guy’s destination was rather vague–the coast, he said.
And so I drove this morning, awaiting directions from him.
After a few interesting turns, our destination: Prouts Neck in Scarborough, Maine.
Our journey began at the Ferry Beach parking lot as the tide ebbed. We followed in the footsteps of those who passed before, ever mindful that along the beach our story, like theirs, would be washed away in a matter of hours.
But some things stand forever, or so it seems.
As we walked along, the Jessica Heather and other lobster boats swayed and bobbed at their anchors with pride.
And at the end of the beach, we followed a well-weathered boardwalk up to the road. Snow fence and walkway seemed to speak to destruction dictated by the sea–though its our experience that neither of these have been replaced in years.
For a brief stretch by the Black Point Inn, we walked along the road, where we glanced back at our starting point and the mouth of the Nonesuch River. Though the foliage spoke otherwise, the water colors indicated this just might be the Bermuda of the North. Well, maybe.
But more likely, the post office told the real story–shuttered for the season.
At the top of the road, we found the next leg of our trip–the Prouts Neck Cliff Walk.
Prouts Neck features a community of summer “cottages.” One of the most famous among them is the studio of Winslow Homer. In the late 1800s, Homer hired John Calvin Stevens, a Portland architect known for the “Shingle Style,” to transform a carriage house near his parents’ home into a studio and residence. This provided the vantage point and workspace for his paintings from 1884 until he died in 1910. And inspiration. He walked this path daily.
I’m always fascinated when I realize that our breathe and footsteps mingle with so many who also passed by. They flow in and out with the wind and tide and are forever intertwined.
Along the walk, we found the rocky coast of Maine,
where the volcanic rock highlighted by the ocean waters offered layers of stories told with sharp contrasts.
It’s places like this that I’m forever reminded of my mother who was fascinated by such.
At times we walked on those rocks, and other times through muck. Given that mud season is upon us, we were thankful for those who’ve added board to the walkway.
Among the trailside offerings, we spotted the rusty leaves of Northern Bayberry.
They were often mixed in with the rose hips of beach roses. In the summer, this trail buzzes with pollinators, but for now it’s all a memory. And for me, another memory was evoked–my father eating the rose hips as we walked along the beach in Clinton, Connecticut, during my youth.
My guy and I both grew up along the coast–he on Cape Cod and me in Connecticut. Since then, the forest and mountains have called our names, but whenever we stop by the sea, it shares moments with us–including smells and sounds that feel oh so familiar.
Part of the memory includes . . .
waves crashing . . .
and swallowing up all in their path.
The substrate changed with the tide along this path and suddenly we found ourselves in a rock garden. And my heart envy announced itself. While I’ve always collected sea glass, others have collected heart-shaped rocks. This seemed like a prime location to find such and so I put my guy on the assignment and was totally amazed that he embraced it.
Our search turned up a few examples–the first rather angled and reminiscent of a fox’s profile.
The second more rounded.
And the third, a more golden presentation.
The good news about our inspection of life at our feet–the sunshine lichens on the rocks around us.
Some were abundant with fertile disks.
And they seemed to appreciate the layers of this seaside location.
Because we were looking down, we spied other things we may have missed–including this white, segmented structure that reminded me of a fruticose lichen meets seaweed meets coral. My hope is that Maine Master Naturalist and seaweed expert, Davida, will come through for me and ID this one.
We also found a few stick figures among the offerings.
As we rounded the corner at Eastern Point, the architecture changed.
On an equally high spot as Scarborough Beach came into view, we spied a sight we didn’t understand.
Turns out it was all white rocks. But, how did they get there? Human? Bird? Seriously? We questioned it because the pile was on a spot that neither of us could have accessed, given our fear of heights.
All along the way, we paused to admire the boarded up summer homes–especially in awe of the architecture noted in those built long ago.
Almost at the end, this newer castle came into view. We recalled seeing it under construction last year.
My guy thought he could live in their guest house. For me, a simple sand castle would do.
At the official end of the trail, we once again stopped to admire the old pump house made of local stone with a colorful slate roof.
And though we wanted to continue along Scarborough Beach, time was getting away from us and so we followed the road back to our truck.
Completing the circle, the tide was out on Nonesuch River and we could see someone clamming on the sandbar.
We didn’t dig up any clams, but we did pick up this stone–a rocky heart that symbolized our Mondate. Prouts Neck was the perfect decision–thanks to my guy.