Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Postcard From Maine

We are sitting on Jasper Beach, Maine, near the town of Bucksport. We are farther Down East than I’ve ever been, past Acadia National Park by a good long way, and an hour past the town of Milbridge, where we’re staying at Sea Cairn, a 1933 camp house in an enchanted fir and reindeer lichen forest on a point of land in Narraguagas Bay. The human history of the place has been as patiently acquired as the natural history, which contributes to the impression that one is vacationing on the heavily encrusted pages of a fairy story.

Jasper Beach is a fairly steep inclination of very smooth pebbles ranging in size from quail egg to dodo egg, made of every sort of rock you can think of, purple and green and white and gray, every one a door stop or mantel decoration in the making. Points of land run off to either side, creating a small fir-encrusted, mist-wreathed bay. Since we can’t take all the stones (and we have tried), we are burying the children one at a time in rocks. St. John looked like a sculpture; Isaac made a convincing Cairn Man rising from the surface of the beach; and now Phyllida appears to be getting the local spa treatment, which involves being packed from chin to sneakertip in sun-heated, organic, free range glacial moraine stones.

Canada is not that far away, with the great tidal shift of the Bay of Fundy, and even though the day is warm, you can feel that you are approaching the edge of where you will be allowed to go in this world. It is difficult to imagine what conditions would have to be like in your old homeland to inspire you to come here and try to hew a life from the wilderness. And yet much is circumstantial to your upbringing—the lobsterman who was pulling traps this morning in the mist just off the Bear’s Den shed where we slept was listening to the local classic rock station on the boat radio, deep in a work day as unfathomable to me as this stony, hissing, effervescent cove.


  1. Just realized we were not near Bucksport, but rather Bucks Harbor. That said, I got some of these moments on "film," and they can be viewed at, in the "Summer Fun 2009" set. Scroll down toward the bottom for the Maine photos, which I'm still updating.

  2. Hello Melissa,
    I found your blog through a google search for Sea Cairn. I stayed there twice about 12 years ago and would love to bring my kids back to experience the beauty of it all. Do you have any contact information or happen to know if they're still renting? I can't find my information from the last time. Thanks in advance! You can contact me directly at