I am not given to local festivals or local theater.  In theory I support them, so I am reluctant to say this, but in practice they are excruciatingly insupportable.  And I have been a participant, most recently in the Oyster Festival that, in my father’s name, raises money to support education about the river on which we live.  All great, and you can catch up with friends too, whom you ought to have seen but oddly haven’t for a couple of years.  It’s actually sitting through a warbling production of Guys and Dolls in this day and age when Marlon Brando or Nathan Lane are available at the push of a button.  The live part simply doesn’t make up for the lack of practice part.

But the other day, the time and tide were right for a trip upriver.  We call it a river, even though I essentially live on a very slim 12-mile bay – completely sea water, flushed 90% each 24 hours by the two tides.  Usually I head down, toward the sea, as that is where the wind is.  But today’s west wind blows over water and fields alike, and I know it won’t run out.  It takes me just over an hour to twist my way six miles up to Damariscotta, hard over some of the time, belting on a beam reach past Glidden Ledges and the oyster farms my father spawned.

Past the tricky final mud flats and into Damariscotta Harbor, I made it onto a mooring and rowed ashore for the Pumpkinfest.  By then it was four pm and the crowd was thinning out in the late afternoon chill, but I walked around to get a snack and see the carved pumpkins.  The largest pumpkin was there too, a huge if slightly deflated 1210-pound monster (“Ooh,” quipped an English voice beside me. “that’s as big as two Americans!”).

It was just before five when I set sail again, laying off from the mooring to get some speed, but then laying back for a run down river.  The shadow of the earth began to gather in the east, and I rounded the turn to home (Soup!) in a chill and gathering gloom.  It was a treat though – such clear air when it blows from the west – and as the sun went down it shone up for a moment, and there was a red-hot skillet under the cast iron clouds.


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