Thursday, August 4, 2011

Upper Town Dock, Southwest Harbor, July 11, 2011

White on White, Southwest Harbor, Maine; July 11, 2011 (Beachcombing series No.41)
The Clark Point Road runs from the center of Southwest Harbor out to the Coast Guard station at the end of the point. To get there you follow Main Street down from the head of the island til you reach the hardware store in Southwest Harbor, and turn left at the blinking light. There are two actual traffic lights on the island and by the time you reach this one you'll have passed them both.

Upper Town Dock, Southwest Harbor, Maine; July 11, 2011 (Beachcombing series No.40)
After the turn you'll go by a restaurant, a variety store, a small shopping plaza with three storefronts and a post office,  several small houses, then an assortment of large and gracious houses, some of which are still homes but many of which have become inns. Look for the street sign that says Upper Town Dock. If you reach Hamilton Marine Supply and the old warehouse that houses the sailing school you've gone too far. Park at the Town Dock and walk down the stairs. You might see a barge tied up at the next dock over.
Climb carefully over the railing, and drop down onto the mussel beds under the dock.
You're there.
You'll notice the ground underfoot alternates between patches of small, angular stones and wide swathes of silty, fine-grained mud. The odor of rotting seafood does not come from the lobster pound three docks to the left. That's just the smell of low tide on a mud flat.
You'll find lots of evidence that this is a working harbor, like bits of the old tires that are used as bumpers on many docks, random pieces of machinery and industrial debris picturesquely covered in barnacles and rust. There is a lot of broken glass, but no sea glass.
 The duality of Maine shore life is particularly compressed along this shoreline. Utilitarian docks piled with lobster pots jut out right beside docks decked out with flags and pots of geraniums.
On a bright summer day, the summer folk and the working folk seem to co-exist peacefully. In many communities the bed-and-breakfast guests do not care to be woken by the fishing boat motors when they roar to life at the crack of dawn. Take a good long look around you. If the general trend along this coast continues, the barges and lobster pots will be pushed out by the flags and geraniums. For the moment, though, there seems to be a balance here. Savor it.

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