Friday, July 9, 2010

Still Looking Toward Portugal

I am sitting here at the cottage on Sabbathday Lake, in Maine. It is very early in the morning and the fog is gradually lifting off the mirror smooth surface. The coffee percolator pulses and clatters as it comes to life, filling the entire cottage with the pungent aroma of dark roasted beans. A daily morning tattoo with its inviting cadences.

We have been at the lake for just over two weeks now and I am starting to fall into the routine. We have been spending quite a bit of time here at the lake and I have been writing while Sally Ann is busy with her sketch work and exploring new possibilities with her watercolors and pastels. Frankly, I can’t think of a better place to write and paint. The solitude and quiet offered to us has taken hold of us. At the moment we can’t think of a place we would rather be.

This is not to say that we have not done a little exploring, and our wanderings have taken us up into the Great North Woods of northern New Hampshire and then into the Eastern Townships of Québec (more on that later). We have also been over to the coast in search of cheap lobsters and clams and to sit in the shade of the lighthouse at Pemaquid Point, to stare out at the ocean, to Monhegan Island shimmering on the horizon, and toward Portugal which lies somewhere beyond the earth’s curvature.

I am reminded of what I posted back on December 8, 2008 when this blog was just a couple of weeks old:

So what lies beyond? When I first discovered Maine and its coast in the late 1980s, I often stood on a rugged finger extending into the surf below the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse (the one depicted on the Maine state quarter). I also favored Ocean Point, a few miles to the southwest of Pemaquid on the southern extremity of the Boothbay Peninsula. Later I ventured farther Down East to Quoddy Head, and the most eastern point of land in the continental United States (and like Kerouac I am also drawn to the America’s Pacific shore, visiting Quoddy Head’s western counterpoint at Cape Flattery on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula). About five or six years ago I discovered the eastern headlands of Monhegan, a small island located 15 miles off the Maine coast which has long been immortalized in the paintings of the Wyeths (James Wyeth still has a home on Lobster Cove on the island’s southern exposure), Rockwell Kent (who originally built the Wyeth cottage), George Bellows, and so many others. Even today one cannot visit Monhegan’s headlands, coves, and shores without encountering artists discovering and interpreting the island’s landscapes and seascapes for themselves.

Soon we will be back on Monhegan Island where we can once again go to those coves and headlands and extend our search a bit farther beyond that horizon. Life does not end at our coastline. There is something more out there and we yearn to know what it is. So we keep going back, we keep looking.

The percolator has ceased its morning rhythms and the coffee is ready. My attention is refocusing on the day that lies ahead. We will enjoy the lake as we write and paint. Yet I can’t help but ponder the possibilities that lie ahead as we once again wander out to sea. Norman Maclean was right. “I am haunted by waters.”

1 comment:

  1. "A daily morning tattoo with its inviting cadences." What a wonderful turn of phrase. In Scotland, some of the pipe bands are called Military Tattoos. I love the feel of mystery, longing and sacred space in this post, Steve. It really resonates with me.