Thursday, July 31, 2008
Among the Mainers
It was important for me to get out of town this past weekend. In years past, that strategic exit from the city signaled the end of my availability to answer the kind of questions with which my office can be deluged at this time of year. I took advantage of a friend’s offer to play tour guide, and I settled for a few days in the Portland area.
As part of my Maine venture I reached Winslow Homer’s studio in nearby Prouts Neck. I visited the Portland Museum of Art another day and caught a great exhibit on the role of photography in the career of Georgia O’Keeffe. I sat with my morning coffee on benches lining the docks of the Old Port section of the city. I learned about the influence of Portland architect John Calvin Stevens as a tour bus carried me past houses he had designed in the Shingle Style and others he had designed in Colonial Revival.
I drank homemade lemonade, walked along rocky coasts, smelled the unmistakable aromas of Scarborough Marsh, and watched tanks of blue lobsters bubbling out their final hours in dockside shacks.
A surprise of the three days was a chance to visit the Portland Head Light one morning. I walked a little ways from the lighthouse and the museum next to it, pulled out my phone and captured my own image of a kind of structure that has stirred my imagination for as long as I’ve lived in New England.
I read a plaque near the lighthouse commemorating Longfellow's passion for this dramatic corner of his Maine home. Words from his poem "The Lighthouse" line the monument:
Sail on! sail on, ye stately ships!
And with your floating bridge the ocean span;
Be mine to guard this light from all eclipse.
Be yours to bring man nearer unto man.