There's an anticipation of something in the air, an edginess that precludes a storm. Hurricane Bill is churning up the sea to our south. Here, thick fog so dense even the neighbors' houses look like dreamscape—not quite real, as the fingers of moist clouds dance like specters through the open fields and dark spruce. Humidity, the likes of which we don't experience often, hangs close, making it difficult to breathe. Floors are sticky and clothes are damp; towels never fully dry.
Near the sheltered coves where I live, hundreds of small islands protect our part of the Reach from the brunt of the large rollers that are pummeling the open coast right now. But there are places where the full force of the sea can be seen and felt not far from here. I'll wait until the storm is upon us to visit these places and experience the sheer exhilaration of what nature can produce.
Sunday, August 23, 2009.
Overnight we had torrential rains that flattened my deck plants and gladiolas. We woke to cloudy skies, but no fog. Perfect! We'll be able to see the waves at Schoodic Point. This place is about an hour and a half from us further downeast. The pink and black granite basalt left over from some ancient volcano lies in enormous chunks of rubble—the only thing keeping the sea from encroaching into this low-lying area.
We get there around 10:30 am and already there are many brave souls gathered along the rocks. But the Park Rangers have deemed it to dangerous to venture further than the very edge of the road.
Giant rollers lift themselves out of the icy water ever higher, making curls before crashing in thunderous abandon onto the time-smooth rocks. They gather in sets of three to five like hunting dogs in search of wayward prey that they can claim for their own. Every once in a while, a rouge wave, much larger, gets into the mix and shakes the ground as the brunt of its enormity smashes down, creating a foam that flies into the air, lingering for a moment before floating down and becoming mixed with the rest.
The wind isn't too stout, probably a maximum of 15 knots instead of the 30 they predicted. As we watch, the tide is flowing, expecting to peak at 2:30. The throng of people all wishing to glimpse this rarity along the coast is becoming thicker. A little before noon, we begin noticing droves of people retreating from the top viewing areas. The Rangers are moving them down because the waves have begun splashing over the road. There's talk of closing the park before high tide.
Within fifteen minutes, Winter Harbor's finest have decided there is too much splash over and they want everyone out of the viewing area. They herd us out like so much cattle. There are a few who give in and begin to moo. The waves are incredible now.
As we walk down the road, the lucky ones are being sprayed with the salty brine as the waves reach ever closer to the road. The not so lucky are being splashed from head to toe. Rocks, the size of large grapefruits are being tossed onto the road, along with tree branches and seaweed.
The exodus is unhurried, much to the dismay of the Rangers and Police. They sense an urgency we don't share. We're here to witness this event, but alas, we reach the parking area and begin the trek out of the park. Just before that, though, we get the video of a lifetime.