Monday, March 10, 2014
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.
An ancient Greek proverb says: “A man can never cross the same river twice, because both the river and the man are different.”
The same is true of any beach in the world.
On Friday at Curtis Cove, a beach I visit week in/week out all through the year, I saw a sight I’d never seen there before.
I subscribe to “The Pepperell Post” -- Saco’s official monthly newsletter. When the latest link arrived in my inbox on Friday, how surprised was I to find a story about Goosefare Brook!
When I did my three-part series on Goosefare Brook (the life-giving churning at a river’s mouth, tracing the meandering stream, and documenting its pollution), I had no idea a new management plan was in the works.
According to the press release, Saco and Old Orchard both recognize that Goosefare Brook is valuable -- and is suffering.
A week ago I wrote up a little journey tracing tiny Goosefare Brook from Saco Bay up to its source at Saco Heath. I crossed many highways & byways to follow its path. And it was fun.
It was also eye-opening.
Every single time that Goosefare Brook met with humanity, it also met with humanity’s waste.
Here, from source to mouth:
Using plastic leads to littering plastic -- in spite of our best efforts. So the solution should be simple, right? Use less plastic.
Except, it’s not easy to use less plastic.
Try it. Try to go for a day without using any piece of single-use throwaway plastic. No straws, cups, sauce packs, plastic-wrapped single-serving cheese, sporks.
You will drive yourself crazy.
A few days ago I blogged about the surprising magic of those places where river meets sea. I included a photo of Goosefare Brook flowing out into Saco Bay.
I decided afterward to turn around 180 -- to trace Goosefare Brook back to its source. One tiny little winding artery, emptying its waters into the Gulf of Maine day in & day out.
Goosefare Brook manages, somehow, to miss southern Maine’s major river, the Saco. The Saco runs for 120 miles, starting high in the White Mountains in New Hampshire; its watershed drains over 1,700 square miles! Yet the humble Goosefare collects its waters right beside the Saco, sometimes within a mile of it, and never empties into it.
Here’s the brook running out under Seaside Avenue at the edge of Saco and Ocean Park, toward the sea.