From Jo Floyd Lucas
I love visiting Portland. Most of you know that about me already. (Oh, no, here she goes about Portland again, you’re thinking.) Bear with me, okay?
I arrived yesterday evening, and was met with the loveliest temperate weather I’ve ever felt. Maybe it’s because those of us in the Midwest have been suffering through such heat and humidity this summer, but by comparison, Maine is heaven this time of year. I literally let out an “AHHH” when I took my first lungful of crisp, clean Atlantic air.
Of course, the main reason I love visiting Portland is the opportunity to see my lovely daughter, Andrea. She spoils me when I come, and I must admit, I love to be spoiled by her. When she was only five, Andrea would come into my bedroom early in the morning each Saturday, and in her hand would be a small piece of paper with several misspelled choices on it. Beside the choices (‘serial’, toast, ‘juse’, pop tart, etc.) she had drawn a small box. She would smile and say, “Would you like to order breakfast now?” I’d check off the boxes and moments later, she’d return with a very special breakfast for her grateful mommy.
Times haven’t changed much since then. Last evening after arriving at her apartment, Andrea brought me a mug of cinnamon cappuccino as we caught up on current events. This morning, she made a breakfast of scrambled eggs, fresh blackberries and strawberries, and coffee. Okay, her cooking skills have improved greatly, but the love I feel from her is the very same as it was when she was that sweet little girl.
The other reason I enjoy coming here is the awe inspiring beauty of this region. Every time I come I witness yet another reason to love it. The beauty is natural and uncontrived in any way, almost like an accident of nature. The beauty of the lavender fields in France, or the tulips in Holland, or the sunflowers in Kansas are impressive and gorgeous, for sure, but there’s something about the random, though sweet and harmonious, natural beauty of Maine that takes my breath away.
For the first day or so of any visit, I’m always on sensory overload, looking up, down, north, south, east, and west, trying to take it all in. I’ve seen the good the bad and the ugly weather while my daughter has spent the last year here, and I still love it. Whether it’s the incomparable beauty of spring in Portland, the heavy snowfall in the White Mountains of North Conway at Nutcracker time, or the cascading torrents of rainfall from the nor’easter we experienced in March, the feral beauty of Maine draws me like a moth to a flame.
I set out on my first walk (of this visit) around the Back Cove of Casco Bay with great excitement this morning. I brought my cell phone with me (I always carry it for ‘security’ reasons…who am I kidding, it’s really in case I get lost so I can call someone!) and am often glad that it contains a small, though adequate, camera. Today I was especially glad to have it on hand.
I usually wait for high tide of the day before making the four mile walk, but this morning, I didn’t care if the water was at its highest, bluest form…I just wanted to be outside. I walked during low tide today, with driftwood, grass, and the dark shallow water that goes along with it. The feeling was more subdued, but the shades of gray and blue in the earth and wood and water gave the view more depth than I imagined. No sparkles, no crystal clear blues, but all the same, it was full of serene appeal .
As I walked along the warm, sundrenched side of the cove, wildflowers were in profusion, an unrestrained mass of yellow, blue and white. Queen Anne’s lace was everywhere. The vivid blossoms contradicted the quiet cool shade of the western side of the cove, where the trees along the pathway had already begun to litter the ground below with their falling leaves. I suppose on my next visit in September, the balance will have shifted to Autumn's advantage. I should remember to bring a jacket.
I stopped several times to absorb it all. The resplendence of the flowers, set with charm and grace into the shoreline by the loving hand of Nature, the murky, mysterious allure of the cove at low tide, the arching trees prophesying the coming autumn…all of it filled me with awe.
When I finally arrived back at the apartment, Andrea said, “Where have you been? Did you decide to stop and meditate along the way?”
Well, yes, sort of.