Monday, August 11, 2014

Isle au Haut, Acadia National Park, Freedom Away from Usual Fare

Isle au Haut contains a sector of Acadia National Park without the crowds associated with Mount Desert Island. The large island, not nearly as large as MDI, is accessible only by boat, although a roadway and cars exist, and even a chocolate shop--The Black Dinah--which won a prestigious award as one of the nation's best small businesses. It's back in the woods. We walked to it after completing the Duck Harbor Trail of a couple of miles or so, arriving on the way back to the mail boat by way of the road, the boat which brought us and more than a dozen others ashore.

Compared to the many other trails we hiked, Duck Harbor Trail deeply refreshed us for the solitude we enjoyed, having encountered only one other family. I got out ahead of Patricia and Matt for awhile, and remembered directly how it used to feel hiking alone during earlier years of my life. I once hiked the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain Georgia to Hot Springs N.C., three weeks in solitude of a month total. But what really moved me the most about Isle au Haut were the lobstermen. After spending 13 years as a commercial clammer, I was compelled to know more about people who have been lobstering for generations. Some day I want to return to Isle au Haut and stay at the Bed & Breakfast with my wife. She can hang out and read as she likes, while I hang out at the dock and learn some more. Clamming was a serious endeavor, but I was just a guy from the suburbs who found a way to get close to the wild spaces of bays behind Long Beach Island and Florida's Indian River, chiefly in order to find my voice as a writer. Some might ask why anyone would go to that extreme to write, but all my life from age three, I spent a lot of time in wilds, not necessarily real wilderness, but whatever wild places I could find. The 60's and 70's were a free time when parents were not prosecuted for allowing their seven year old to roam deep woods alone. Some writers go to the city. Some go to the wild. Some go to both. I'm the latter variety.

I search islands and every city is an island of sorts, like rock bunched into place above a water line dividing it off from more open space. On our ride to and from Isle au Haut, how many islands we passed none of us counted, but well more than a dozen. A wilderness of water and land. We chugged--at a good clip--for 45 minutes easily. How the lobsters maintain any presence I don't know. Pots pocked water surface the whole way in between. An exciting moment involved a good sized craft pulling alongside a color-coded buoy, one of three men on board reaching with a rake-like device to hook and bring it aboard. "They're loading pots!" I said. This didn't impress my son or wife. I really don't quite know how the act wouldn't incite wonder in almost anyone, but on the other hand, I do know. I ate my first lobster bisque at age three and I still remember being mad about lobsters, fascinating me to no end. Philosopher Jean Paul Sarte, I learned in my 20's, once experimented with mescaline. As a result, for three weeks a gigantic, green, hallucinatory lobster followed him everywhere.

What is significant about this? I'm not altogether sure. But it resonates with how lobsters somehow meant a lot to me as a small boy attracted to the strangeness. Another philosopher, Alan Watts, remarked that a philosopher is someone who has deep moods in which he finds life weird. It's very possible that at a deep level, lobster meant the same thing to Sartre as does for me. But my wife and son continued looking out in front, as if anticipating our destination at the dock, rather than experiencing so much happening right there and then in between.

Freedom to roam and really live your life still exists in remote American places, while much of the nation is lost to restrictions on personal freedoms for the sake of nothing, really, just power for the sake of encroaching statism serving no purpose but appearances generated by forms of political "correctness." The boy I photographed with the Lab/husky is about 10 years old, owns a 21 foot boat. No doubt, he was probably allowed to roam the woods alone at age seven, if not the sea, and no one on the island or anywhere else would think for a moment of hauling his parents to court. The human species is capable even at an early age. In fact, studies show a seven year old needs to go into wild places on his own if he is to grow into a stable adult not ruined by anxiety in place of self assurance. I used to take Matt on outings and let him roam off by himself. But people who want more and more evil power don't want adults to be self-assured by such practices. Many of the politically minded pay science no heed. I never forget how Albert Einstein summed politics: "There is very little reason in the political domain."

We still have the edge. Most Americans aren't interested in destroying people to serve the ends of power for a few. Most of America is free, remote from the jurisdiction that makes everyone who owns a cell phone a suspect. Just set electronics aside and step into a wild place.

 Before we came to this dock, I spoke of bringing rods and reels to try for Boston mackerel, which not only I had never caught: I had never seen one. I decided to leave the rods at our place on MDI, since we would be hiking. Actually, we could have left the rods at the dock with a note explaining the situation--no one would have hocked them. Where there's freedom, there's no need for crime, no need for war either. The boys were catching lots of Boston mackerel. Beautiful, pelagic fish.
 Lobster effects.
 Wood frog.

 Periwinkles & barnacles
 Yes, I'm ordering a polarizer for my long zoom, soon as I have some money for it, a real good one's expensive.
 A boy on the dock high above repeatedly threw an old boot for his dog to retrieve.
 No need of any drugs to stay this way. The word haute means elegant and high class, thus Isle au Haut.

One of my Facebook friends commented that Matt has the far-off look of a mariner.


Comments Encouraged and Answered