Cape Porpoise

August 2021

Saturday early morning the sun rises over the harbor at Cape Porpoise. A spit of land jutting out from Maine’s northern coast; a small lighthouse breaks the long ocean horizon line. The tide is out, and sea gulls drop down for the exposed crabs. Lobster boats in the harbor are keeled over in the ankle- deep water. The sun quickly burns off the morning mist. I watch as a bent old warrior of the lobster fishing army slowly exits his truck. He straightens his back and looks out over the harbor. Is he revisiting the days past when he too would be readying his lobster traps? Unsteady on his feet, he grips the handrail as he climbs the steps up the dock, careful not to trip on the unevenly worn boards that have weathered years of heavy footfall from fishermen past. He waves to a fellow Mainer carrying a thick round of rope over his shoulder who nods back wordlessly. Like a tip of the hat, it suffices. Another young man readies his small craft for striper fishing. His rods sit gathered in a bundle on the wharf as he organizes trolling apparatus in anticipation of the coming tide. The water is still not high enough for his outboard motor to rest securely.

Out of the morning mist comes a woman in a long raincoat, her face framed by a green silk scarf that covers her hair, obscuring her identity. Missing are Jackie-like sunglasses. She carefully navigates the steep rock outcropping, the lighthouse in the distance, making her way to the highest point. She gazes out toward the ocean waters as if waiting for a boat to appear in the calm sea. But the boat doesn’t show and with a downcast chin she descends from the rocks. She steps briskly over a fallen wooden post and then hunches down to avoid the wide branches of a massive pine. She is gone in minutes. When I leave, I pass the broken fence and the wide pine and see a graceful wood-shingled house in the distance with a Maine flag flapping from the front porch. Maybe hers? Cape Porpoise has its mysteries.

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