The light in the 20 or 30 minutes before and after sunrise has an eerie, primeval quality I like, especially along a coastline. Dawn on Casco Bay these days is at about 5:15AM, so I try to get down to the path on the Eastern Prom before 5AM to take in all the parts of a new day's awakening.
Sometimes I use the path along the street above the water as when I showed you some of the beautiful Victorians that face the sea. But more frequently I prefer to be on the water, to hear it lapping against the rocks and watch it wash against the small strip of sandy beach leaving behind a piece of seaweed here and driftwood there.
Photographs don’t begin to express the morning magic; you need all five senses and maybe part of your sixth one, too. So to accompany me on today’s walk, you must imagine a variety of birds, mostly invisible among tree branches as they greet the dawn, calling to one another in voices high and low, screeching and melodious, songs short and long, creating a symphony of welcome for the sun as it once again, as every day, approaches the horizon.
The air is crisp, about 60 or 65 degrees F with a slight breeze against your skin, cool but not cold. The tide is high on this day and it takes a little more effort than on low-tide mornings for the salty-sour smell and taste of sea to find you – but it’s there, if you pay attention, on each wisp of breeze. Oh, look. The big catamaran moored offshore is new since yesterday morning.
Other boats lay at anchor too and I think how lovely it must be for those on board to be wakened by the rocking from the wavelets and the creaking of the boat's joints in the gentle morning sea.
The red berry bushes (maybe some gardening readers know the proper name) are at their peak today, a splash of brash, bright color bursting upon the green/gray dawn before the day seems quite ready for such exuberance.
By the time we get to the sidelined railroad cars, I’m hitting my stride, muscles fully engaged and feeling as ripe as those berries. Right now I believe I could walk, with ease, a hundred miles before lunch.
Across the path from those rail cars is a small marina and boat repair yard where one-person sailboats, a good-sized yacht or two and many intermediate-sized boats await, in the early morning light, an expert's hand to set them right again.
Inside the boatyard's locked fence is this statue of someone whose attire suggests he lived long ago, but is important enough to still be honored with fresh flowers at his feet. One day I’ll come by during business hours to find out who he is.
I had been meaning to take the well-advertised, narrow-gauge railroad ride until I realized it rolls along my morning walkway, so no need – except maybe the tour leader could tell me who the statue is.
Some days I walk farther on toward the Old Port, but this morning we’ll turn around here and when we do – lo, there is the sunrise in the tree.
The meadow is brighter now that the sun is above the horizon and god almighty, it's almost perfect, don’t you think…
It is easier now than on our first pass by to see this behemoth, anchored a ways offshore. It wasn’t there yesterday. There is a workaday feel to it - or a dread quality reminiscent of Mad Max - depending on your fancy this early in the morning. It does not move. A deep, steady groan emanates from it.
It’s been almost an hour now and we come upon the path lights again, nearly back to where we began.
A lone seagull screams (at me?) as he swoops and soars over the bay in search, no doubt, of breakfast.
After a shower, my own breakfast on the deck where the geraniums are behaving as though I know how to grow plants. I don’t. It can only be due to luck and the gods’ graces that they are doing so well.
The fresh, clean breeze feels sparkly against my skin out here on the deck. The coffee is rich and thick. The flowers are as bright and clear in the morning sun as if their colors had been invented just for me today.
I think I might never have been so completely of the moment, so perfectly content in a time and place that my heart might burst from the pleasure of it. It is a good thing I have done, in my old age, to move to Portland, Maine. I have chosen well.
A short while later, I remember there is laundry from yesterday still in the dryer. When it’s piled on the bed for folding, Ollie the cat - who knows a thing or two about seizing the moment - discovers that rolling around in freshly washed sheets is ecstasy on the order of heaven - or at least as good as salmon for dinner.