This morning as the sky lightened, there was no brightness, no evident sun, not even a fiery red one like the day before. Instead, there is an opaque featureless gray of fog, possibly—probably—laden with smoke and particulates from fires still consuming the west like hungry monsters. So I was charmed…distracted…pulled into reverie when I opened an email inviting me to revisit Newagen Seaside Inn, near Boothbay, Maine. We had once stayed there in late July, 2018. A lifetime ago!
The come-hither photo of perfect pumpkin-orange and golden Fall leaves, mostly still clinging to trees lining both sides of a path you’d give anything to be exploring, but just enough decorously scattered on the ground to add some crunch, drew me into the scene. I could almost smell the trees and catch a salty breeze coming off the nearby bay. This is a very special place!
The Inn and its surroundings are, of course, Maine-perfect and a dream vacation destination but the reason we had made a stop there was for me a pilgrimage to pay my respect for someone I have long studied and held in awe: Rachel Carson. She used to stay at the Inn when she was working on her Sea books, examining the tidal pools, finding the threads of life that linked every minute form to the cosmos of the whole biotic community. She loved the area so much she eventually settled in a small cottage just a few minutes away from these rocky beaches.
The hotel is proud of its association with the life and work of Rachel Carson and eager to relate stories of her time there. Even more powerfully, you can follow a sign-posted path to a favorite beach on hotel property where her ashes were scattered at her request when she died in 1964. As the small waves washed in and out and pooled between the granite rocks, endlessly obeying the waxing and waning of the moon, I gazed at the crevices, the bits of shaggy seaweed, the flecks among the gravel and tiny shell pieces, as if to see her essence still there, mingled with all the ongoing life she loved and wrote about. Her words floated in my mind, now carved on a marker, captured in bronze from the page where they first appeared…
I had read her excellent biography by Linda Lear and all her Sea books before our journey there, so my mind was super-charged with her story and with her own evocative descriptions of shore and tidal life, on out to the very depths of the oceans just then being explored in its darkest reaches for the first time. But all these words spun in the breeze and floated like so much flotsam, efflorescent, out to sea. What remained was her solid love of place, her will to share it with us all, and her granite resolve to save it for its own sake. The air coming off the water was so fresh and tangy. I left with a new resolve to dig into my own place, to put down roots, and find my own words. But I’ll always remember finding Rachel at Newagen.