Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Confession: Some mornings I wake up and really don’t have the desire to pull on the Wellies and hit the beach. It would be very easy to stay in bed, crack open a book or fire up the latest phone app, and kill the morning.
But there’s a flipside. After I’m finished with a visit to the ocean’s edge -- filled garbage bags in hand -- I never regret it. Even though my self-appointed job is to examine the man-made debris that fouls it, the coast is still a magical place to me.
And not just to me.
In fact, most people I’ve spoken with have a favorite beach or coast. I don’t mean like a favorite color -- something they like but could take or leave. I mean, a heartfelt favorite place on the coast. A place that stays with them long after they visit it. That they want to bring a loved one to, just to share the experience.
In Maine we are blessed with a wide array of coastlines. Each waiting to become someone’s favorite, home-away-from-home. The place that inspires them.
Maybe it’s that fleeting moment, climbing the dunes at Ocean Park, just before seeing what the shore holds in store.
Or that first sight of the iconic rugged cliffs at Portland Headlight.
(credit: Giacomo Barbaro)
Maybe it’s the endless expanse of sand at Popham Beach, going out and out toward distant knolls.
Or the headlands above Thunder Hole at Acadia National Park, as seen by a kid from Florida with bad hair, experiencing Maine for the first time in the late '80s.
Perhaps it’s the misty inlets of Cobscook Bay, woodlands tumbling down to meet the sea.
Or even the muddy ripples down low at a small, deserted, seaweed-strewn cove in Biddeford.
Living in Maine, our cup really does overflow.
I study the debris that comes into Maine’s beaches not because I love the debris. But because I love the coast. Standing at the edge between where we came from and where we’re going is a precious thing. It’s every child’s birthright, and one that we have no right to spoil for those who come after us.
And, really, it’s pretty easy to get out of bed for.Tweet
Visiting a Maine beach in March 2010, Harold Johnson was shocked by the ocean-borne debris left by recent storms. He grabbed a garbage bag and a camera, and hasn’t looked back.
Since then he has spent most of his free time studying marine pollution, coastal ecosystems, and the mysteries and science of ocean and shore.
Copyeditor and writer by trade, historian and archaeologist at heart, Johnson’s philosophy is simple: Dig below the surface, travel the currents, make the connections, learn. Then share what you learn. He lives in Saco with his wife and young daughter. Follow on Twitter @FlotsamDiaries.