Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New Neighborhood

As the season at Old Quarry wound-down, we pondered our next move. Returning to Georgia was not much of an option. When we left in June, the owner of the business was ill and it seemed a long shot that Sea, Surf & SUP would begin to thrive enough to provide ample work. The owner died over the summer and the business has since gone into yet another phase, with another name. So we weighed our options.

We'd worked really hard all summer- barely a day for a break, and, while the pace was sometimes a bit stressful, we loved it. We loved being active, kayaking all the time, in good shape, in close touch with the natural world.  I loved the tan lines from my sandals and the constant sore-muscled feeling of being a bit worked. And money in the bank. When we returned from the symposium in Nova Scotia, it felt obvious that summer was over and it seemed prudent to get south while the getting was good. We might find some kayak work in a warmer place and just keep at it. Or lay low for a bit in the Everglades.

We weighed this dream of warmer climes and more frequent paddling with our love for the Maine Coast, even in the colder months. Several people had very generously offered us winter living accommodations. We couldn't quite make up our minds. Rebecca needed a good spot to paint- a large enough space with good light. The ability to get out and kayak frequently would be a bonus. It seemed we would probably go south for the winter.

But then one day I was giving a lesson and my student told me she had a house that needed sitting for the winter... and it was on the water.  It would give us long months to focus on painting and writing. So here we are, still on Deer Isle. The house is in Sunshine, looking out over Mud Cove toward Eggemoggin Reach and Brooklin. We've been here about a week and a half now. (The first time I wrote that it had been a week, but we don't have internet here).

Last weekend I led a camping trip for College of the Atlantic, and with winds from the northwest gusting into the 30s, we looked for a more sheltered area. We settled on Naskeag Point and camped about two miles from our new winter home. It had been awhile since I'd paddled around here. For the past couple of years I haven't had a lot of personal paddling time to explore semi-local Maine waters. I've usually either been teaching & guiding or researching the guidebook, which took me away from Maine for awhile. So it's been with particular joy that I've found myself revisiting familiar islands, some of which have changed hands since my last visit.

Which isn't to say we don't have second thoughts. I woke up in my tent Sunday morning and it was pretty cold- just under freezing. Okay, it could be worse- it will be much worse, but you find yourself thinking "is this really necessary?" My outlook improved with a little coffee and oatmeal.

So we're getting into a routine here. Most days we stay put for the morning and get work done. At some point after lunch we head out for a paddle, getting better-acquainted with the neighborhood, gaining an understanding of what we're looking at from the living room window. Between us and Plumb Point are a couple of islets and ledges. One is barren of trees, with only a few distinctive boulders that catch the light just so. It already looks like a painting, and I find myself looking toward it compulsively, as if waiting for subtle changes to re-arrange it somehow.

A little farther out there's Bear Island, ringed with pocket beaches and a trail running its perimeter. There's Conary and White Islands, and across the Reach we visited the Babson and Torrey Islands. Little Babson has become a MCHT preserve since my last visit. And the Torreys now have posted signs welcoming responsible use.

At the mouth of Greenlaw Cove, Campbell Island is in the hands of the Chewonki Foundation and still on the Maine Island Trail, despite it's being for sale. As we paddled along its shore I remembered my first visit there, looking for the campsite as it grew dark after a long day of paddling.

Toward the end of Stinson Neck we visited some of the smaller islands, savoring them, taking comfort in their nearness to our winter home. Of course, we don't take that nearness for granted, realizing that at any time the weather might turn cold enough that we won't want to paddle. But for now we're reveling in the abundance of both time and less familiar shoreline to explore.


Sandy Stott said...

Ah, good to read this...it anticipates others from these familiar waters. And could it possibly be as cold this winter as last? Surely not...though it won't compare with Georgia. Down here in Casco Bay, the islands have tucked themselves in, and only a few single boats are out and about.

LateTeenEighteen said...

As a newbie kayaker, I'm so looking forward to our return to Sunset in May to resume paddling! No better place - no better scenery - hurry up Spring!

SusanM said...

My sentiments exactly LateTeenEighteen! We only left Sunset a few weeks ago but are already counting the days until May. We got our first kayak in August so haven't gotten to explore nearly enough & are looking forward to doing much more upon our return. Deer Isle is just the perfect spot!

ken said...

New to kayaking myself and just getting into a little bit of kayak fishing myself. Glad I found this place...wealth of knowledge.

Albert jack said...

Keep the ball rolling you have done the great job here. John Brown