I’ve blogged before (One Hidden Self, June 2015 — last section of post) about The Wells Reserve at Laudholm, in Wells, Maine. Laudholm is a special place, managing 2,250 coastal Maine acres, comprised of woods, meadows and grasslands (its “uplands include one of southern Maine’s largest managed grasslands”), saltmarshes, boardwalks, and beaches, with arts installations and frequent events held there — it’s very tempting to make the drive for the Guided Forest Bathing Walk coming up on 28 Oct! As a National Estuarine Research Reserve, it manages and performs research in three estuaries — the Webhannet River estuary, the Little River estuary, and the Ogunquit River estuary.
It’s a place I’ve visited often in the last 23 years, since moving to northern New England. Especially when we lived in Maine, it was a go-to spot for wooded trail walks (7 miles of trails) combined with beach walks where in the right season you can see (from a respectful distance) nesting piping plovers and least terns, and it offers interesting terrain for snowshoeing in winter. We’re still members, and these days, though we live two hours away, I try to visit a few times each year, usually when we’re in Ogunquit or Kennebunk for a little holiday or when I am heading home from my monthly bookgroup on Maine’s midcoast; and that’s how it was that I visited about a week ago, both Laudholm and the Rachel Carson Preserve close to it.
An 65-piece outdoor sculpture exhibition (26 May – 16 Oct), called Power of Place, lined the Knight and Barrier Beach trails, both of which lead to the beach, and a few were set in other spots on the ground. I probably saw half of them.
I particularly liked “Vulture” by Patrick Plourde. I heard some folks walking by, commenting, “It’s a bird.”
Late September, the start of fall, and it felt like it: though temps were in the 70s, autumn staples like apples, asters, bittersweet, and Japanese barberry were all flourishing. These last two, Asiatic bittersweet (Celastris orbiculata) and Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii), are invasive, choking out native plants; Laudholm has been trying to manage barberry for at least 20 years (one example).
The wooded and open trails were also filled with ferns, some browning and yellowing, and mossy roots, yellowing grasses, fallen leaves, pine needles, milkweed plants, some bog cotton, butterflies.
“Part of what makes roads, trails and paths unique as built structures is that they cannot be perceived as a whole all at once by a sedentary onlooker. They unfold in time as one travels along them …. ” ― Rebecca Solnit,
I like seeing old wolf trees, a white pine here, in managed woods.
The path to the saltmarsh, lined with tall grasses, is one of my favourite places to be.
I was here:
And the beach, which is on Drake’s Island. Lots of gulls, not many people. Low tide. Just beautiful, mind-soothing, regenerative.
“I have been feeling very clearheaded lately and what I want to write about today is the sea. It contains so many colors. Silver at dawn, green at noon, dark blue in the evening. Sometimes it looks almost red. Or it will turn the color of old coins. Right now the shadows of clouds are dragging across it, and patches of sunlight are touching down everywhere. White strings of gulls drag over it like beads. It is my favorite thing, I think, that I have ever seen. Sometimes I catch myself staring at it and forget my duties. It seems big enough to contain everything anyone could ever feel.” ― Anthony Doerr,
It is a pleasant feeling to be the first to walk on sands which the tide has just left. It is like being the first to visit a new land. It produces a freshness of sensation something akin to that of early morning, or of spring. It is like entering upon a new stage of life, having a new world before us from which to receive, and upon which to make impressions. ~ Henry James Slack, The Ministry of the Beautiful, “Conversation II: Footsteps on the Sand” (1850)