It's 64F outside the house according to the iPhone this morning and going up to 77. Perhaps. No chance you'd find me doing my lizard thing on a flat(ish) rock at this point, half naked or otherwise. I think I could have dispensed with the bathing suit (in which case you would not be seeing this shot) except for the small problem of the Acadia tour boats touring by every 30 minutes for the people who really didn't want to hike, climb or otherwise go anywhere near these rocks. Or maybe it's just a public Selkie hunt. Who knows. All the better to view you with, my dear.
There are a remarkable number of people who do pop up on the rocks though. A distressing number of people who pop up out of nowhere periodically shocking the shit out of me (another reason for staying dressed). They don't stay very long, just long enough to come up over the edge, recognize that they've done it and then move the hell along. Very few people sat still for very long or at all. Very few people stayed in one place for more than a few minutes.
Northern Man and I spent the good part of our first day looking for Anemone Cave which has been removed from the maps. If you can find it, good on you. If not, good for the park and the cave. If you can find it and get yourself down in there without cracking your skull open in the process or shredding your hands to ribbons on the barnacles (it's not that hard people, just slow down and use some sense - it's just that the railings and the steps have been removed so you actually have to think about this and be, uh, accountable and SHIT, this is actually fun... I'm off topic slightly) there are some truly great reasons to stop and be very, very still.
It was a bitch getting in there. NM has significantly less trouble than I do with the slick rocks and the barnacles and the seaweed carpeting or maybe just more confidence. I don't know. I know I don't want to fall on my ass on rocks like that and maybe I'm more fearful than I ought to be. Either way, I got down and up just fine, he just got back up into that cave a lot further than I did. On the other hand I hunkered down in front of a tidal pool until my legs and feet went to sleep and there I did learn that I knew a lot less than I thought I did.
He got way the hell up in that cave, to the very top I think, and he could see the whole of it, in as much as you can capture the whole of a sea cave that way. I remember looking up at him and wondering if my iPhone was going to come anywhere near telling what he'd done to get there and what he was going to have to do to get back down. I didn't want to think much about it mostly in terms of projecting my own fears of falling and breaking my neck onto the situation. I don't think much about it with him. This relationship is different that way. I'm noticing that. I don't worry so much about him. Sometimes in small ways I do, I think if I sense worry in him I might, but not where I see or sense any sort of confidence at all. It isn't that I don't think he might actually leap up there and kill himself, it's just that it's not on me, it's on him. That's huge. He's an adult in this relationship, just like me and I trust him not to be reckless or to own the results one way or another. He hasn't shown any sign of it and I don't go looking for it. This is a relief in my life. Sort of like how I close my eyes when he's driving and don't worry about how fast he's going or whether or not he's going to hit the guy in front of him or if something is terribly wrong if he slams on the brakes. He's driving. I'm not. I don't think I'm going to die.
So this is what I saw after a lot of looking:
Eventually I poked at it because he told me to so that I could see and feel it close up on itself. Yes, that's pink and blue you see in there. That's not my phone gone wonky with the color. I did a lot more looking than taking pictures. I tried with the opening to the cave but if you're not up where NM was, you're not going to get the whole of it.
It took me a long time to find that anemone. In the end I only found that and one other and I had to be very still to see it. It's very small, maybe the size of a half dollar at best and it blends right in if you aren't right up close. I can't put my face that close to the water because I'm kneeling at this point on very sharp, very wet barnacles and if I fall in face first there goes the phone and probably I'm going to be a bit of a mess as well so I'm working with an iPhone zoom and I don't care what you apple freaks say, that zoom is a piece of shit. So there it is. Worth a day and a half and a late night getting home on Monday. Right there, that one small blue anemone.
So people came and people went and then looked down over the rocks but no one actually started the climb down except this one young couple and we told them about the anemones in the water and that you had to look and the tide was coming in but there was still plenty of time if you picked your route from the top which is how they came in.
A little while later we saw them on the rocks. I think they might just have made it to the pool. Maybe.
Stop. Please stop. You're missing everything, said the Selkie about the sea. (and oh, everything else there is to see)
NM went on ahead the first day to have a look further in one direction to see if maybe we were heading off where we shouldn't be and I slowed down because I wanted to look at the salt pools and I actually dropped and stepped on my sunglasses and was that oblivious (we found them on the way back). He found me eating sea lettuce which, as it turns out, is rather good for you. I should have stayed and eaten more (on the other hand it's apparently a sign of pollution so that's not so good either (I did some research when I got home - the organic bandwagon people all yell... GET YOUR ORGANIC SEA LETTUCE HERE! GET IT FRESH, IT'S GOOD FOR XYZ (that part seems to be true), GET IT DRIED IN FLAKES, IT'S A WONDERFUL THING!... but they leave out the part about why we see it on the Maine Coast to begin with - that part is in the wiki)). Anyway, I didn't know it was sea lettuce at the time. It looked like lettuce and it was very pretty growing like it had been planted in a small tidal pool and not the least bit slimy and seaweed being seaweed I thought maybe it might be ok to put a little in my mouth just to see if my throat and tongue didn't swell right up (and Florkow wasn't there to stop me, not that I didn't look around first) if I chewed it slowly and then swallowed just a little and waited awhile. It seemed perfectly OK, so I ate a little more and by the time NM showed up, to give him credit he didn't tell me to spit it out, he just declined to partake on the grounds that one of us needed to remain upright and un-poisoned at all times.
I do wish I'd taken more pictures but the thing is, you can either be taking pictures or you can be being very, very present. You cannot be doing both at the same time. You can go back and forth and do both, I'm just not very good at remembering to pick the camera back up. At least I think this is true for me a lot of the time, mostly when I'm being still. I cannot really see through the lens of a camera because it narrows my senses and boxes in the world. On the other hand, what the camera sees is an astonishing thing, but that's another story entirely. I'm going on about being still today but I am extraordinarily grateful for the presence of NM behind his camera.
I did take pictures of NM, but that's because I was looking straight at him and somehow that's different when you're three feet or even five feet away. A different sort of intimacy I think.
Back on being still. NM needs to be moving. A lot. Or his body needs to be in motion, I think that's a better way of putting it. It isn't that he can't sit still. He can certainly do that, but his body needs to be in motion quite a bit more than mine does right now. This is where we fall apart a little, although fall apart might be too strong a statement. This is where we're learning to work around each other or in tandem, or something. This is one of the places where both of us need to stay grounded in our own needs. It's been so long since I've been outside that I want to stop and look at bloody everything. I want to lie naked or at least topless in the sun until I fall asleep and wake up groggy 40 minutes or an hour later and move slowly back into the world. I want to look at the salt crystals collecting on the rocks way too high for the surf to crash... (holy shit!) I want to stop halfway up a mountain and look at whatever the hell is growing out of that rock and also, also, also
I'm just as likely to break into and easy lope across a field on what's maybe an old logging road because it feels good even though I'm wearing boots and that's stupid and I'm going to pay for this on the backend for days. It isn't that I can't or won't keep up a 4.5 mph pace. I can and do. It's that I need to be outside sitting still and looking very carefully. My body needs to be in motion too, maybe just not as much as I need to be looking and taking in right now. We'll work this out I think.
One last note before I move onto the Beehive. In this sitting still business (if you don't do it, try it some time), you start to lose your actual self. That's right, you lose you. Not all gone but I suppose you could get to all gone pretty damn quick if you got good enough at it, as in stopped resisting or let go of needing to be all separate and apart. The thing about losing self, and I'm going to sound really awful and trite now but I don't have any really good words at the moment, is that's the only really good way I happen to know to find me. Otherwise we're all lost in what the world thinks we ought to be or expects of us and all that. You, we, I forget ourselves pretty damn quick and don't go blaming that on anyone but ourselves. We do this. So back on sitting still. Petty quick I forget a lot of things and I think the first things to go are sound and touch. These things merge with the world pretty quick. I hear my heartbeat and I hear the wind. Same same. I feel the air and I feel my skin. Not I feel the air against my skin. I feel the rock and I feel my ass on the rock. I feel the rock and my ass. Same same. Right up until a not quiet person or group of people pop up from around the corner and I'm startled right back into my body. Crap. Well, this shit does happen and that's on me too. Quiet people though. I notice the quiet people that come into the same space and sit only after I've stood up and gotten ready to leave. Same same.
So the Beehive. You climb this thing using iron rungs as handholds and sometimes steps. It's 'completely safe' unless someone's being an asshole or your vertigo's a bit extreme. It's 520 feet up. Without the rungs it would be a very reasonable climb and an OK free climb because I'm fairly certain that at no point will you fall all the way down if you slip. I think. Could be wrong on that or you'd have to be really stupid. In any case, it is still a climb and it is still an UP climb and I would not do this I don't think without the handholds or some reasonable assistance and I most assuredly would not do it with the sheer number of lunatics going up and down on any given day. That's why there are rungs.
So my vertigo. My fear of heights. Oh my goodness. So very, very extreme. I can do it though. I can do a lot of things, it just takes some getting used to first. And sometimes I might cry if I think I have the space to stop and do that. And an edge? I might have to go to the edge on my belly but I WILL go.
There was a point during the climb where I really thought there should have been a rung. I don't know why I thought that but something in my good old lizard brain said, 'no freaking way, Alecto. you turn your ass around right this second and get right the hell back down.' I turned around and looked at NM and looked at my down options (I'm not proud. OK, yes I am, but still) and decided that down wasn't really an option. I looked back up at the part with no rung and wanted to puke. This is when the world goes white and my fingers get numb and I press my face against the rock and just breathe awhile. And maybe I even cry a little just to let off some steam. After that I don't look down again, I just look where I'm going and decide how I'm going to do it. I can't just close off my head and rush it or I'll fall and I don't do that but I don't want anyone talking at me either so I just get on with it. Later when I'm around that corner and I'm OK I have two choices; I can either keep going and get past it or I can sit at the wide part of the trail and look out and down at what I've done and let it in.
Maybe this is nothing at all to most of you. It is no small thing to me. Rope me up and if I trust you to catch me if I fall, I can and will do a lot of things (and just now I know why I won't rappel back down). Send me out there on my own and I'm pretty damn convinced I'm going to die. I think I even know why now so maybe I can fix that. But there it is.
And in the end there is just this, the being still. I know I called it an art in the title but really it's not. It is a natural state of being, we've just mostly forgotten or lost our way in the world.
I also like The Whole of the Moon for this, but one post, one piece of music.