The view from Simpson’s Point in Brunswick. Contributed photo

Simpson’s Point juts (a little) into Middle Bay’s north end. There, at the road’s end, a thin ramp drops to the water and a hand-carry launch, where we — the public — can gain admission to the water world. On a calm, late February day, the sun’s short crawl west along Mere Point is nearly done. It’s barely had a chance to wester.

But the day seems born again with the sun going down, and the cars and walkers — even a cyclist or two — arrive and depart in steady succession. The still water and always-beautiful islands play with the sun’s last light before us. It is a bit like being admitted to a gallery where the art is unframed, stretches beyond whatever walls there are.

In some distanced knots, I hear the quiet burble of talk-ing, conversation around the distant fire that is the sun. For cold-weather stoics, this passes for a social gather-ing. Words rise in whispers, indistinct, incanted; some seem exhalations that could be response to awe…of the quiet, everyday sort.

Here and there rafts of ducks bob, sometimes displaying their amusing (for me) ability to swivel 90 degrees, tail-feathers to the sky, bill down, and grab for the evening’s meal.

Mostly, though, these are contemplative moments, and most of us stand singly at intervals and take in the light and the lightly-riffled bay.

I realize this is not unalloyed happiness, an omnijoy, as in everyone gets happy at the same time for the same reason. Nonetheless, each day’s higher sun-angle, the whisper of warmth in the absence of wind, the possibility of in-person meetings, all this sources to hope.

The sun, even as it slips behind the pines, encourages that hope. Back at winter solstice, it rose only to 22.4 degrees above the horizon at noon; on the now-nearing equinox it will get up to 46.2. On June 20th the Sisyphus who rolls the sun uphill will sigh, perhaps happily, when he reaches 69.5.

Yes, the same lit-rock must be rolled up again on the 21st…and beyond…but that’s another day. Right now the whole world is flush with light, and we are here.

As the minutes pass, I wonder quietly to myself, how many dreams get seeded by sunset on this point?

All this lasts a short time, and, as the sun keeps shifting down below the ragged outline of pines, those of us remain-ing turn and walk or drive north into the evening.

Tomorrow, the sun will set nearly 3 minutes later; we’ll adjust.

A few thoughts about water access

These are my thoughts, not those agreed upon by any group I belong to.

At this writing, Simpson’s Point is also in the news as the Brunswick Town Council has approved a project to provide better road-side parking on the half-acre the town owns adjacent to the road near the point’s end. Some of the estimated $355,000 cost for this project is proposed to come from a Water Access Fund, first realized with proceeds from the town’s sale of 946 Mere Point Road a few years ago. Earlier, some of these Access funds helped the town join the successful effort, led by Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, to preserve the stunning conservation land at Woodward Point.

Simpson’s Point is heavily used. People who care about the Point worry that enhanced parking may increase and complicate that use, especially in the summer months. What’s allowed and what’s not allowed at the Point is unclear to most visitors. Swimming? Canine swimming? Where does public property end (in essence, where can I go?) Fishing? At a meeting on March 1, meeting, the council also suggested that a citizen’s group be formed to consider the best use at the Point. The Rivers and Coastal Waters Commission and The Parks and Recreation Department have already formed a working group to consider many of these questions.

But everyone familiar with the project points first to safety as a motivator. Especially during the warm season, the current helter-skelter parking would often block any emergency vehicles trying to reach the Point. An added concern slated to be addressed is the decaying concrete ramp that leads into the water.

I raise these questions to point out two things: any place where we, the public, are encouraged to visit needs clear rules for our visits; that reliance on rules is intensified by our town’s and state’s sparse access to public waters; read: the sea. At the root of the dilemma of uses at Simpson’s Point are our property laws that often lock people out from the sea that nobody (and therefore everybody) owns.

Sandy Stott is a Brunswick resident, chair of the town’s Conservation Commission, and a member of Brunswick Topsham Land Trust’s Board of Directors. He writes for a variety of publications. His recent book, Critical Hours — Search and Rescue in the White Mountains, was published by University Press of New England in April 2018; He may be reached at [email protected]

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