With the ups and downs our weather brings us this time of year, I end up checking the forecast compulsively, watching for windows of opportunity. There wasn’t much wind on Friday, but it sure felt cold. I didn’t get out, but as usual, wished that I had. It helped that on Saturday the air temperature was forecast to rise into the 30s, with not much wind, and possibly even some sunshine. Once again, I headed over to the ramp in Bucks Harbor, this time, heading southeast, down Eggemoggin Reach.
The shorelines of Brooksville and Little Deer Isle are separated by Eggemoggin Reach, only a mile or so across, but each shore is distinctly different from the other. On the Brooksville side, the settlement is concentrated mostly into one area, from Norumbega, an old enclave of summer cottages overlooking Deadmans Cove, to Herricks. The rest is fairly wild. Low cliffs rise directly from the water, topped by scrubby, twisted pines.
Of course, there are layers of history here, visible if you know where to look. A sheltered cove known as “The Punchbowl” was apparently an Indian village, and its mud covers the remains of a trading ship that was destroyed and burned, killing all aboard. There’s still tension between locals and People From Away, but maybe a little less extreme.
The sun came out as I crossed the Reach. This stretch of Little Deer Isle shoreline is thinly-settled, with plenty of forest between most of the houses, and an overall gentler, less cliffy shore than the one across the Reach. I pointed toward the one section of low, overhanging cliffs, and as I neared it, I remembered that there sometimes is a reward for getting out in the colder weather. In this case: icicles.
Forward progress stopped. I drifted and marveled: totally unexpected. A gift.
Soon, I stopped long enough to eat a sandwich, which was long enough for my toes and fingers to turn numb. I paddled hard for Thrumcap Island and heated-up again.
I stopped there to check things out- the nests on the rocks, a nice view up the reach toward the bridge, a desolate grandeur so close to home- and I could imagine whiling away a warmer afternoon here. But my toes were numb. So I got moving and warmed-up as I headed the two miles up Horsehoe Cove, returning with a little push from the current.
A half-hour after sunset, I paddled into Betsy's Cove. In the dim light, the water surface below the ramp had a dull sheen. I plowed into it and came to a stop. Ice. I paused for a moment, just to savor the scene: a winter evening in a New England town, yellow light from occasional lit windows, thin crescent of a moon overhead, and somewhere, the crunch of tires over ice and snow.
I'll admit that when we get a little cold weather, I complain a little like most everyone, and lately I've been remembering how nice it was last winter in the Everglades. But would I completely give up one for the other? Can't have everything, I guess. This is where I am now. I backed out of the ice and found my way around its edges, back to shore.