Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September 23, 2013

Greetings far, wide, and especially locally, as this is a limitless local adventure.

Discovery requires reporting. Reporting demands discovery. Such an energy spiral propels the toddler and the scientist to share his novelties. I am an aspiring investigator, bent on extending my curiosity in partnership with you.

I anticipate discoveries of things that are and things that might be, relative to Halibut Point, a jutting in the Massachusetts coast near my Gloucester home. These will be things of the past, present and future, known tangibly or otherwise.

From Halibut Point you can look north to Mount Agamenticus in Maine or west to the unusual spectacle of ocean sunsets over the East Coast. Many visitors bring optical scopes to bring distant sights closer. Being on the tip of the continent, on the edge of rock and sky, it also nudges introspection as when the optical device is reversed to make close things tiny.

Halibut Point is actually across the Town Line in Rockport. Much of it is now a State Park or held by The Trustees of Reservations, which means that you too can walk there to savor interesting encounters, internal or external. It is an uncommonly stimulating place.

Though our acquaintance has been long I formed this declaration of investigation just a year ago. I wanted to give compass to my retirement from the profession of landscape gardener. These researches would be purposeful, outdoorsy, an easy ride on the bike I didn’t own yet. I would be able to enjoy Nature without having to offer improvements or other types of intervention. I imagined pursuing an inventory of all its features, animal, mineral and vegetable.

I was shaping a project reminiscent of Nature Merit Badge, which directed us Scouts to know intimately a locale of five acres or so. But my current project would proceed more expansively to reflect the grandeur of Halibut Point and my many seasons of life since adolescence.

There had been a precipitating event. The Cape Ann Museum mounted an exhibit that summer of paintings and poems by Marsden Hartley, who refreshed his artistic muse in Gloucester’s core wildlands, Dogtown. From his solitary sojourns there in the 1930s Hartley made the rocky barrens accessible and experiential to me. I immediately thought, “I know a place to take such a chance….All I need to do is learn how to paint and write.” Halibut Point would be my ground.

To keep the ambition reasonable I started with a camera while other aesthetic capabilities took their time to surface. The camera drew me on many satisfying rambles through the winter to notice the subtleties of light on quarry walls, the expressive qualities of ice, and the intrepid livelihoods of seabirds.

Unexpectedly I came to understand the necessity of adding the human presence on Halibut Point to my inventory. There is prominent evidence of farming and industry from bygone days, of coastal defense, of public recreation and private largesse. A little research pointed to layered stories of the Native American presence, colonial settlement, slavery, immigration, all manner of boom-and-bust ventures playing out on this very spot as the occupation evolved. Enterprise has quieted now, but many more people visit than ever before.

How is it that the hickory and tupelo found their way back?

September 23, 2013

 “…to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”  Isaac Newton

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