Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Goose Rocks Beach at First Light on New Year's Day


There’s nothing like watching dawn break over Goose Rocks Beach in Maine.  The first sign of light on the horizon is as thin as the white line you see in the crack under a door. Darkness and desolation yield to the emerging outlines of an ocean teeming with life and alive in its own right, coming into focus like an old TV only our parents would remember. This morning the clouds seem to rise out of the ocean toward the sky: fierce, dark and with the jagged edges of uncombed hair.

 The seals are happy to have the place to themselves. They bob in front of the house, venturing closer than we ever see in summer. 

 We took a walk yesterday during the brief period when the mercury made it to 34 degrees. The sun was out and it was pleasant so long as the wind was at our backs. Rosemary and I were bundled from head to toe.  Nate frolicked as joyfully as the seals, wearing only a t-shirt and relishing the sensation.

 The wrack line of dried seaweed was filled with moon snail shells and we collected half a dozen for the bowl that serves as our dining table’s centerpiece.  

 The moon snail has always fascinated me, for the meticulous manner in which it deposits and protects its eggs, and for the brutality of its predatory behavior, all but invisible above the surface of the sand.  It’s able to wrap its expandable foot around a clam and then use its radula, a kind of biological Swiss army knife, to drill a hole into the bivalve’s shell, and insert a tube to suck out and digest the clam. (To see them in all their grandeur go to @ )

 A nature writer named Barbara Hurd who teaches at the University of Southern Maine writes about the moon snail as an example of how “beauty recedes when hunger intensifies.”  I like this discovery of a new way of thinking for the New Year: the work of Share Our Strength as protecting and preserving nature’s beauty.  Recalling the faces of first graders we’ve seen eating breakfast from Baltimore to Los Angeles, I can’t think of a better way to describe what we do.