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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Working Waterfront

The public dock at Owls Head is real working waterfront - no ice cream, gift shops or craft beer to be seen. Lobster traps pile high, bait buckets stink, a rat noses around the scattered ropes. A few tourists venture down the hill to the dock, but they tend to stay in the car. The place looks rough, unwelcoming. Most people like their reality a little more quaint, Boothbay perhaps. You can't bring anything home from Owls Head except challenges to your own way of life. Easier to buy a plastic lobster hat.

It's a difficult way of life, and not getting any easier. There are consolations, I hope and imagine, and I'm trying very hard to understand them and learn their lessons: the rhythm of a simpler life, the bracing beauty of sea and sky, the independence (mostly), a family-centered life. I read The Working Waterfront http://www.workingwaterfront.com/ and get a poke or two not only in my imagination but in my complacency. The sedentary among us need it.

Yet past the barrels and the styrofoam cups at the end of the dock lie the boats at anchor, the islands at rest, the gulls at play. I could be in any one of several of the past centuries. This is very comforting, in spite of or maybe even because of the 21st century at my back. I'm part of something bigger and only God knows what it is or where it's going.

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