Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Leg 24, Friday, February 12, 2010
(Fish head to Merrill Poor's)

Early on in this blog, leg 17, I came upon a big rock that appeared to burst from the beach beneath, to challenge me to go further. I researched a little and thought the area to be largely variagated shale. Subsequently a friend and frequent critic, I call her the Glacial Erratic, informed me that there is no variagated shale on Vinalhaven, certainly not in that area. Consequently I researched it further and revised that earlier entry to describe the rock as the denizon of bimodal intrusions. I now know, with certainty, there are no bimodal intrusions in that area either and, in spite of being attracted to the term, have edited it further to quantify the stone as sedimentary shale.

This litter I can applaud. Beginning here at Fish Head and at virtually every old (Harding's, Harrower's, Kingsbury's, St. Laurent's, Iselin's & Terry's) summer place along the way, the shore bears unabashed witness to sewage disposal past and present, to attitudes then and now. The cast iron pipes that once poured and in some instances (where the dispensing end of the pipe was propped up on a ledge) flung effluent disdainfully to our fellow critters remain, cause for reflection and for rejoicing, but they've been there long enough; time to go, so to speak.

A friend who summers in the grand house just above this precipice, having learned of my walk, warned me not to climb over this 'rotten rock'. Indeed all the ledge encountered during today's walk was similarly rotten, parts of it, softer and less resistant to the relentless elements, giving way more readily than other marginally more durable rock. The result is deep cave like intrusions all along the shore.

Certainly there was a seal sunning itself on this little oasis just before I came around the corner. How could it have been otherwise?

I've found lovely little mussel shell beaches here and there. This, at Young's Point, is larger than most and a beautiful example. When I was a kid Ox & Ellen Kingsbury, as gracious a couple as I've ever known, summered in their little cottage above and to the left and shared this beautiful spot with the creature whose place adourned the ledge marker. Many years ago, when the Kingsbury's felt they were getting too old to manage it any longer, I was their real estate agent and sold it for them. I think it was the first six figure (a very low six figure) sale on Vinalhaven, laughable now. I got out of the real estate business just as it was beginning to become profitable.

I'm purposely not showing photos of the homes along the way, although I've photogaphed every dwelling without exception, that privacy might be preserved.
The former Harrower house, which is on today's route and which fell victim to an arsonist on a really sad day in the 60's or 70's, holds many memories as do all the homes along this shorefront. My Dad did all the carpentry for the Harrowers, Hardings (Fish Head) and Kingsbury's and some at many of the others. I remember working there with him and his crew when I was in high school. Among them were Bud Carter, Harold Lee Anderson and Paul Chilles. Paul was newly married to my cousin Lauretta who always packed him a lunch larger than he could eat. Ever helpful, I ate what he was afraid to take home unconsumed. My father had lusted for years after an abandoned skiff the Harrowers had stored under their guest house but he knew it was worth something and couldn't afford it and he was certainly too proper to ask without being prepared to pay for it. One day Bud Carter noticed it. Within minutes he'd found Norm Harrower and asked if he could have it. Norm gave it to him immediately.
One hot summer day, probably exacerbated by my having just snuck a cigarette, I stole a drink from a coke bottle I assumed belonged to one of the crew but it was used motor oil, drained from the lawn mower by the caretaker.
The Hardings had kids the same age as my brother Dick and I. During several summers we spent a night or two there at Fish Head after playing with them all day on that magnificent property.

Dad built the Harding's dock in four truss sections of two rails each and had them towed up here by boat, probably in the 60's. Each rail was framed on a big Douglas Fir timber, 6 x 14 I think, about 40 feet long. I remember him adjusting the threaded rod connecting the upper and lower components of each assembled truss to take the spring out of the timber and give it a little crown so it would more readily support traffic once it spanned the granite piers. On a particularly high tide a couple of us stood in a skiff at one end of the assemblage and hoisted it up to be supported by the granite piers, then did the same with the other end and to each of the eight sections. Later, in a truly astonishing exercise that would have had my mother beside herself, her husband and first born (and others of the crew) righted the trusses, installed the outriggers that would serve as permanent bracing and completed the construction.
Next leg, #25 from Merrill Poor's to Hopkins Point, next week sometime.

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