A score of ten or better on this checklist is required for satisfactory completion of week-long stay on New England coast.
Walked along beach and picked up shells — check
Clambered over rocks on a jetty or breakwater — check
Ate fried clams (fresh, tender, and sweet, not the frozen crap you get inland) while sitting on beach — check
Sat in rocking chair on porch and looked at ocean — check
Got too much sun — check
Ate lobster roll (with identifiable claw meat, not that chopped up crap that you get inland) — check
Conversed in eastern New England dialect — check
Took afternoon naps — check
Got drenched in a sudden squall — check
Had weather cool enough to need a jacket, and hot enough to sweat while sitting still — check
Watched guys fishing for stripers and not catching anything — check
Watched seagulls and terns fishing and catching a lot — check
Moonrise over Camp Ellis, Maine
Dear Ms. M.,
Saw the moon come up over Saco Bay tonight. Sat on the beach and ate fried clams from Huot’s, and watched the moon change from pink to pale orange to gold.
Wish you were here,
I was coming back from a long walk down the beach to see if there were any Piping Plovers nesting at Goosefare Brook, looking down at my feet in the fading light to see if there were any interesting shells or stones worth picking up. Ahead of me, a man was aiming a camera with a large telephoto lens on a tripod at something. I looked in the direction his camera was pointed, and there was the moon rising up out of the Atlantic Ocean. If the moon is about 30 arcminutes wide, it was about 90 arcminutes above the surface of the ocean when I first looked. It was pink and a little brighter than the medium blue sky; it hung just above a distant line of darker blue clouds tipped with pink along their tops.
The moon sat in the sky above the gap between Eagle Island and Wood Island. As I walked on down the beach, past the man struggling to aim his camera, the moon appeared to move towards Wood Island, until it stood over the eastern end of the island. The last light of the sun lit up the distant white tower of Wood Island lighthouse; a long shimmering reflection of the moon shone in the waters of the bay.
A couple of hours later, I was on the beach with forty or fifty other people for a bridging ceremony for this year’s high school seniors in the youth program at the Ferry Beach religious education conference; these were youth I had watched grow up summer after summer; one of them was the daughter of someone who had been in my own high school youth group. The moon was high in the sky; a long white reflection of it brightened up the calm bay; it was almost bright enough to read by. The air was cool enough to require a jacket and to keep the mosquitoes away, and two foot waves crashed regularly on the beach below us. What a perfect night, said the person next to me.
Walking down the beach this afternoon, I paused to watch a Herring Gull flying along with something in its mouth. It landed near me, and dropped a good sized crab on the sand. The crab landed on its legs and started to scuttle away, but after fumbling once, the gull expertly flipped the crab on its back. The crab weakly waved its legs in the air while the gull tilted its head on one side so it could look at the crab with one eye.
I walked over so I could better see the crab. The gull kept an eye on me, and when I got within ten feet of it, it flapped its wings, rose in the air, and settled down twenty feet away, screeching at me. The body of the crab was a good four or five inches across — perhaps a foot across with the legs. With the toe of my shoe, I flipped it over to get a better look. The upper side of the carapace was a reddish-brown color, so it was probably Cancer irroratus or Cancer borealis. The crab plowed its head end into the sand and began to move slowly and feebly along. I walked about twenty feet away, and turned to watch.
When I was a safe distance away, the gull flew back in. Again, it expertly flipped the crab onto its back. Then it stabbed sharply into the crab’s vulnerable underside; the crab’s legs waved feebly; the gull stabbed again; and once more, on this last stab bringing a chunk of flesh up. The crab’s legs twitched a little. The gull flipped its head back and swallowed the piece of flesh, then stabbed again and again. The gull was a messy eater, and little chunks of carapace and flesh and bits of leg got scattered around on the sand. The crab had stopped moving by this point. I left the gull to its dinner, and walked on down the beach.