The Coast, The Sea, & the Marshes of Maine

I take the sea for granted. I know that I do.

I dream of mountains and canyons that make me look up and then down.  Landscapes that twist, and curve, and cut through themselves. Those places that make me feel small.

The ocean is flat. A horizontal line with blue above and blue below. I grew up in Maine, so the ocean is not exactly novel or new. When I was little, we used to go to beaches several times every summer, but I never got that feeling that people say they get: the one where you feel small and insignificant staring at the endless horizon. I take it for granted, and I rarely look at the sea.

The coast however; I have not forsaken the coast. No, I was always moved by watching the water create little ripples in the sand. They looked like tiny mountains and rivers. And when the sand dried out and cracked... it looked like the same pattern as the cracks in my skin on the back of my hand. I didn't feel small... I felt as though things that are very big aren't so different from things that are very small. I felt content being somewhere in between.

I live much closer to the ocean now then I did as a kid, only a couple miles away. I almost think I don't deserve it, because I know some folks dream about living near the sea. I only moved here because of some people I liked. The beaches are nice... crowded in the summer time, but... nice. But you know where the real joy is when it comes to the sea?

The marshes.

Now that is something I used to dream about. When I was little, whenever we went to the ocean there was a marsh that we used to drive by, and there was a tidal river that lazily crept up into it, winding through walls of grass that were 8 feet tall. One day I saw some kayakers paddling though and I just thought about how magical that must be, to be so secluded in such a serene place.

I live on a tidal river now, right in front of a marsh that's teeming with wildlife. Give me that over a crowded beach any day! I'll take the murky muddy water and muck. Because along with that are the egrets, the herons, the fish, the otters, the deer. We have several estuaries and marshes that I visit in the summer time, they're never very crowded because everyone else is at the beach.

Snowy Egret (left) and Great Blue Heron (right)
Last summer I spent a lot of time in these places, because I was on a quest to get a photo of a blue heron that I could be proud of. I took sooo may shots, and most of them were "meh," but that wasn't the point. I always got a little thrill whenever one came into view.

I just love those birds. Maybe there's a metaphor in the way they behave.

family of snowy egrets

They tend to hang around with snowy egrets. Snowy egrets are silly goofy birds. When they're hunting, they strike at a fish with gusto! They'll thrash around and flap their wings, and dance around a bit.

pair of great egrets

Great Egrets also gather in these marshes. To me, their behavior is somewhere in the middle. They're playful and social with each other just like the snowy egrets, but they hunt more slowly, more deliberately.

The blue herons are nothing like the egrets. They wait. still. calm. patient. ...until...  the exact... right... moment. They strike with one quick dart, and they either get the fish or they don't.

Honestly, I love egrets too, they're so playful and sweet. But there's just something about herons that slows me down, and makes me think.