Early morning sun sparkling on the heavily frosted landscape. Across the meadow, a majestic Red-tailed Hawk perched high in a dead tree. The month of November dawned bright this year, on the heels of October’s Superstorm Sandy. A strange mix of severe weather and achingly beautiful days. Rain showers and a snow storm, mild daytime temperatures and cold nights, more sunshine than usual.
Last week, a few days on the southern coast of Maine. Nature and solitude, sea air, fresh fish and lobster, hearty bakery breads – and expanses of sandy beaches in the pockets between tourist sprawl and development. Summer houses and amusement parks, boarded up for the upcoming winter, echoes of farms and fishing harbors, now gone. Nature reserves and state parks, lighthouses, rocky headlands and beaches – all still open for walking. The historic Laudholm Farm, preserved as the headquarters for the Wells Reserve, with trails across woodlands, grasslands, marshes and barrier beaches. Here and there, sections of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, dedicated to protecting native wildlife from the ravages of modern civilization. Estuaries to buffer against coastal storms and pollutants, a mix of salt and fresh water. A landscape of mud flats, tidal salt marshes, freshwater wetlands, sand-dunes, forested uplands, and coastal meadows. Teeming with seabirds. Eider ducks floating close to rocky shores, a lone heron fishing in the river. Gulls, pipers and plovers scurrying about along the edge of the sea. The smell of sea and salt, pine and juniper, mingling with scents of musky, swampy estuaries and salt marshes. A tangle of muted autumn colors, beach grass, brambles of bittersweet, bayberry and wild roses. Rocky tide pools pink at sunrise and sunset. Walks on rocky cliffs and along immaculate, uncluttered stretches of beach. The sea air, salty-sweet, still fresh in my lungs.