Where the Land Meets the Sea
I grew up learning how to canoe down tidal rivers, how to dive under a wave, how to reach into tide pools to find moon snails I could put my lips to and hum.
I grew up learning how to be in the world by watching where and how the land meets the sea, by watching the complex ebbs and flows, crashes and shifts that happen only at the coast.
I grew up finding at the coast words that I wanted to hold in my mouth. Rose hip, and barnacle, and heron. I grew up finding in the coast a beauty that I wanted to learn how to speak and how to share. And so it’s no exaggeration to say that as a poet, the coast gave me both words and a reason to use them.
Now that I’m grown, living and writing and teaching in Portland, I still find new delight, wonder, and pleasure in our coast every day that I’m alive here. And I’m sure that’s the same for all of us.
Perhaps, like me, you find delight in the sudden white of an egret in a green marsh, or in the warmth of granite beneath you as you watch the shifting blues of sea and sky, or in the tart orange sweetness of a rose hip.
Perhaps, like me, you’ve found wonder immersing in the froth and roar of a crashing wave, or hiking along a river under cool spruce, or swimming through eel weed in the dark amidst a twinkling green cosmos of phosphorescence.
Perhaps, like me, one of your favorite pleasures is the luxury of a high tide in late afternoon, as the light deepens like honey.
And perhaps, like me, you feel that the salt of our coast is alive in your very cells—that you belong to it.
And it’s not only pleasure that we find at the coast. I imagine that you too, like me, might come to the coast for renewal. You, too, might find solace and balance in the turning of the tides, or curiosity at the strange, intricate innards of a jellyfish, or endurance in how an eastern cedar gnarls against a sea wind.
When you spend time here, where the land meets the sea, you too might remember how liminal our own lives are, how fluid and how interconnected. And perhaps, like me, you come away from the coast feeling kinder, with a renewed desire to care for the people, creatures, and places around us.
I’m constantly gratified anew by how many of us do come together to do what needs to be done—the work of taking care—to make sure that all of us, and our children’s children’s children, will continue to find moon snails in tide pools, and to float in green coves, and to taste the glorious orange-red tang of rose hips.
We too are salt and water; we too have tides.
We have much to learn and to share here, where the land meets the sea.
Poet Megan Grumbling’s collection Booker’s Point (2016) is a portrait-in-verse of an old Maine woodsman. Her forthcoming book Persephone in the Late Anthropocene, a sequel to the Persephone myth set in the age of climate change, is due out in 2020.
Video producer Mark Ireland’s nearly 30 year experience in the industry includes 15 years at Maine Public Television where he produced numerous documentaries, including science programs for the Emmy award winning program, Quest.
This piece is part of Voices from the Coast, a collection of writing, art, stories, and images offered in celebration of the Maine coast and launched in 2020, Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s 50th year.