Getting to know you, getting to know all about you: Maine that is. And more specifically, its state parks. To that end, my guy and I have been traveling at a snail’s pace since we began this journey a year ago,. In 2019, we checked two off the list. But today . . . the number finally more than doubled.
Our journey began with lunch at Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth. Shout out to several local businesses and friends: Pam and Justin Ward of Bridgton Books for the book bag in which we packed today’s picnic, Sierra Sunshine Simpson for the bee’s wax wrap that kept our sandwiches fresh, Fly Away Farm for the sourdough wheat bread and grape jam that enhanced our Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, and my sister for the chocolate-covered McVitie’s digestive biscuits that rounded out the meal.
Lunch completed, we began to look around and right beside the picnic table grew ever-hairy Staghorn Sumac twigs with heart-shaped leaf scars surrounding new buds. What’s not to love?
At last we headed off onto the trails. Do you see what I see? Or rather, do you not see what I don’t see? Snow. Back home, it’s quite deep, but along the coast, it seemed to be non-existent.
Eventually the trail led to the Atlantic Ocean and the infamous rocky coast of Maine. It’s really my mom’s rocky coast of Maine for she was always in search of such. Having grown up in Connecticut like she did, I understand her fascination.
My limited understanding of geological folds created by heat and pressure during the mountain-building process was enhanced by crashing waves.
Within the complexity of the geological formations was another with its own history written throughout its structure.
Sunburst lichen, foliose to umbilicate, spreading extensively, yet loosely attached, smooth to somewhat wrinkled, featured a complex organism that arose from algae or cyanobacteria living among filaments of fungi in a mutualistic relationship that included yeast in the mix. How’s that for a simple life form?
Step by step, one amazing feature after another made itself known, including a quartz vein cutting a quartzite bed.
Eventually we came a rock that could have been a sculpture of a bald eagle. Or perhaps a story written that still needed to be deciphered.
We continued to walk along the edge, enjoying the action of the waves as juxtaposed beside the prehistoric rocks. Part of the splendor, in fact, a major part, included the color. Our western Maine eyes don’t mind the blues and browns and greens and whites of winter, but beheld the beauty and bounty that was the splendor of this winter day.
We stood in wonder as the waves moved in, met the rock with splashes high and lo, and then retreated.
At last we walked higher ground, but still noted buckets of wonder as waves interacted with rocks to the southwest.
Beside the well-worn path we walked, others who have known this way from one generation to the next offered their winter forms, such as this Queen Anne’s Lace.
The woody form of Evening Primrose also greeted us in the midday midst.
Bulbous and colorful, yet equally full of flavor (so noted in days of yore by my father) and vitamins , rose hips offered their own take of winter.
I soon learned as we stepped away from the coastline that we weren’t the only soles who wandered the area. A vole had traveled in the subnivean layer between the ground’s surface and snow that had been–leaving its telltale tunnel.
After we circled about the edge of the 41-acre property, we headed “inland” toward the reason for its special upkeep as a state park. Once upon a time this had been a prime piece of land that offered a protective layer to Portland’s port. While a battery had been constructed, with clear points of view and contact, as well as enemy protection, no guns had ever been fired.
About a tenth or two down the road, a mini harbor provides protection for any who travel the fingered coast of Maine.
Because it offered smaller rocks among its mix, I asked my guy to look for hearts. Seek and ye shall find.
Seaweed and seashells added to the array and provided another colorful hue to this mid-winter day.
Across the harbor from our stance stood one of the two former lighthouses for which the area was known.
No longer in use, its light warned ocean farers of the rocky coast. Life has changed since its day of service, but as we stood nearby we could hear the toll of its well-revered friend, a bell buoy.
In the opposite direction of the lighthouse, the folded rocks bespoke their ancient form.
Beside such, we could feel the bend and imagine the creation.
Stepping atop, we looked back and took in the landscape.
And then we moved on, stepping out toward a beach whose shape rendered its name.
Walking upon its much softer coastal offering, we noted artistic “trees” that appeared to be deer hiding in the sandy forest.
And then there was the moss-colored seaweed making us think of the Emerald Isle miles and miles beyond.
After crossing from the seaweed-covered rocks to an upland piece, we then stepped down toward the water again where red sand greeted us and if your imagination is in as full gear as ours was, you may see a heart within the sandy artwork.
In places where water flowed over rock faces, we rejoiced in the interface of ripples upon ridges.
Up close and beyond, the scenery and the scents filled the innermost recesses of our souls.
And the artwork of those who had come before touched our whimsical sides.
After we’d reached the southwestern edge and turned back, the reason for this state park’s name became most obvious: Crescent Beach.
Walking back, we continued our quest for the shape of a heart. I found one in the suds of the retreating tide.
At exactly the same moment, my guy found one in a more rounded form among the stone offerings.
And then a gull captured our attention. He appeared to have found a hamburger roll upon which to dine.
For a few minutes he played with his meal, perhaps softening its texture in the low water.
When he finally did partake of his meal, he swallowed it all in one piece and if you look carefully at his neck, you may see the bulge on its way down.
Our third and final park of the day, for so are they closely located along the roads of Cape Elizabeth here in Maine, was Kettle Cove. Of course, it’s located between the other two, but we saved it for last.
On another day we’ll revisit it and take a look at the tidal pools that it offers, but the sun was growing low in the sky when we arrived and so our journey was on the rather quick side and didn’t do it the true honor it should receive.
In the end, however, we were thrilled with the opportunity to explore three state parks in our quest to get to know Maine better. Today’s LOVE ME, love me tour included Two Lights State Park, Crescent Beach State Park, and Kettle Cove State Park–three gems in a row.