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A House on the Edge – Introduction to My Fo’c’sle

September 6, 2016 0 Comments
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This view is taken from directly above my house in East Boothbay, looking south.

As an undergraduate English major at Boston College in the late ’70s, my favorite writers were the American Transcendentalists, led by Emerson and Thoreau. I was captivated by their understanding of the human place in nature and their warning that a collective loss of that understanding would come at a cost to society. When I eventually read “The Outermost House,” published in 1929 by Henry Beston, I found a book that would stay on my nightstand for the next 40 years. Beston’s journal of a rustic year on the outer beach of Cape Cod, illuminated not only the daily and seasonal rhythms of the coastal flora and fauna, but the lives of the people who lived and worked in that fragile space contested by land and sea.

Beston also wrote “Northern Farm,” a similar work documenting a year on his Nobleboro, Maine farm. Which brings me right up I-95 to my new home on the peninsulas of mid-coast Maine, a short (relatively, in Maine terms) drive from Chimney Farm in Nobleboro.

Life changes¬†brought me back to¬†New England, my native region and a part of the country that will always feel like home. I’m living in a beautiful, rented home in East Boothbay, perched on a steep hillside overlooking the dynamic waters at the mouth of the Damariscotta River where it meets the open Atlantic Ocean. This series of blog posts will document my own year of living at the edge of the ocean, admittedly in significantly more comfortable surrounds than Beston’s one-room shack on the Nauset dunes. The Outermost House on the Cape lacked electricity, running water and insulation. My privations are of the first-world order — a lack of high-speed internet and poor phone service; hardly a sacrifice.

Over the next year, I will post my journal of life here in coastal Maine. As an experienced science journalist and writer, I have learned to frequently stop and simply observe the world around me. I hope you will get a sense of what it is like to reconnect with the natural world and its many elements — oceans, atmosphere, geology, flora and fauna — each ever-changing and utterly connected. As the famous sage Berra said once, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” Watch for a year along with me.

Tom
September 2016

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