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Echoes of independence in the mist

Pick a vantage point looking out across the water from which you see no signs of our 21st century world – no houses or wires – and a quiet time when there are no modern boats in view. Even better, if the morning fog still lingers and all you see is the loom of spruces and the grey granite beneath your feet.

Imagine a morning 240 or so years ago, your heart in your throat as you ghost a privateer into the nearby cove, hoping the British marine patrol has not spotted you. Desperate to make your mark against tyranny, you sail with others like Captain Paul Reed and the Warren to raid supplies needed to feed rebellious families – and the militia called to answer the muskets of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill.

The ocean and our coastal landscape aren’t much changed from the summer of 1776 or 77. Certainly, granite shores and waterfront contours have been shaped by the centuries of wind and tide; yet the rocky fingers of the Calendar Islands that point down Casco Bay still need the same day marks and lighthouses that Washington called for in 1787. There may not be as many lobsters or cod as there were in the 18th century, but there are still Maine boats that put to sea for a livelihood of fish. And as many patriotic souls who carry names like Boothbay, Castine and Portland to freedom’s wars.

As July bursts in all the passions of Independence Day, as treasured copies of the Declaration are shown and proclaimed, as church bells ring and bunting drapes the monuments and the porch here at Spruce Point Inn, it is good to recall the daring, the strength and the character of those who stood as patriots on July 4, 1776. It took a couple of weeks for news of the Declaration to reach the colonial outposts from Philadelphia, so take your time noticing the red, white and blue of this Maine landscape to which summer has returned once more. Cheer for the fireworks that light the sky in exuberance and not in anger. And listen for the muffled oars of men from Boothbay hiding from the redcoats in the mist.