Ocean Awareness Week
This Ocean Awareness Week, October 6- 12, gives us the opportunity to replay the oceanside memories that animate our thoughts of the seasons here at Spruce Point. The harbor seal that heralded Spring as he basked on the rocks right below Sunset Cottage and entranced the visitor from San Antonio. The puffins on the day charter. The tiny inhabitants of the tidal pool the kids at Camp Lighthouse discovered one summer afternoon. And of course the sustainable seafood, from lobster to halibut (and the working fleet of Boothbay Harbor) that inspire the menus that form the backdrop to so many wonderful dinners. All of these sharpen our awareness of the ocean and what it means to live perched on the edge of the Atlantic coast.
Thousands of years ago, the Wabanaki who traveled the path through the woods at Spruce Point were moving with the seasons, arriving at the shore in time for the most plentiful fishing, even traveling offshore in their hollowed-out log canoes to catch substantial specimens that would feed their extended families. In the early colonial era, the settlers found the seas so abundantly filled with cod they launched a European gold rush all along the coast, building cod-salting fish stations on the islands of Monhegan and the Isles of Shoals. And in the early days, our beloved lobster were so common, they could be gathered by hand from the shallows and these “bugs” made a plentiful meal for the ordinary man.
By recognizing how much we’ve nearly lost – the cod, the puffins, the whales – perhaps we can sustain the oceans that are our precious legacy for all the generations that collect the memories now, and for those who will follow us. All who know what it means to miss the fresh sea air, the progress of the tides and the beacon of the Burnt Island Light that guides us home are aware of the might of the ocean. And when the poet John Mansfield says “I must go down to the sea again, the lonely sea and the sky” we conjure up all the sensory impressions of one particular harbor Down East and treasure the memories.