by Kristy Gherlone
My husband and I took some time out of our busy schedules the other day to hop over the border to visit my home state of Maine. New Hampshire is only a stone’s throw away from southern Maine and we try to go as much as we can.
It was a hot day, so we decided to take the Finest Kind cruise out of Ogunquit. We paid our fare and sat waiting on the boat for everyone else to board and for the captain to get underway.
Our captain was clipped and professional in his polo shirt, emblazoned with the company logo. He was pleasant enough, but seemed more intent on selling us drinks than anything else. I’m sure it wasn’t his fault, as he was probably instructed to do this, but right away I could tell he wasn’t local and believe me, if you’re from Maine, you know who is and who isn’t!
The sun beat down hard on our heads. It was hot! A lot of people don’t realize that Maine often gets temperatures into the 90’s during the summertime. I couldn’t wait to get out into the open ocean and feel the cool breeze. I distracted myself by looking over at the mansions dotting the shoreline. Great big, sprawling places but decorated tastefully with the quaintness of Maine coast homes.
A writer often loses themselves in thought, imagining all sorts of things, and as I sat there, I wondered about the people who lived in those places. I wanted to know how they came to have such wealth. Did they work for it? Did they inherit it? Was it their primary home or just a vacation spot?
I saw a lady emerge from one of the homes. She was wearing a large brimmed sun hat and a flowing, flowered dress. She proceeded down the expansive lawn and began to pick her way over the gigantic boulders that the Maine shore is famous for.
She looked so lonely, and lost, at least that’s what I saw, in my writer’s mind. She sat down on a rock, shielded her eyes from the sun and gazed out over the ocean. I wondered why she was alone and why she looked so sad for all that wealth and beauty.
After a while, my attention turned to another boat that was heading right towards us. It was another cruise ship in the Finest Kind fleet. It pulled up alongside of us, as our boat swayed against the dock. Their cruise was ending and the people aboard needed to disembark. We’d have to wait there until they did. I sipped from my ginger ale, slapped on a bit more sunscreen, and watched a school of striped bass swim by our boat. I wish I’d brought along a fishing pole!
That particular cruise happened to be a lobster hauling excursion. It was set up so that people from away could get a taste of what it might be like to be a lobsterman. They sail out a ways, haul one or two traps, and then turn back around and head for shore.
The people disembarked, leaving the lobsterman behind to straighten up. If I had to guess, I’d say he was nearly 70. He was ruddy from the sun and wearing hip waders. He worked with his back to us as he tended to the fresh lobster they’d caught that day.
We were right next to each other. Close enough to see what he was up to, if anyone wanted to and most people did. Lobsters are creepy looking critters, but oh so delicious!
The people on our boat wanted to ask him questions and didn’t hesitate to do so. For some reason, I expected him to be crusty about it, since we were not on his boat, hadn’t paid for his time and he was probably tired from I don’t know how many excursions already that day, but when he turned around with all of those people staring at him, his face lit up. He prattled on and on about lobsters, cracking jokes here and there. He took one out of the tank and passed it around so people could hold it. I could see from his face how much he enjoyed his job. He took a lot of pleasure in it and I knew immediately that he was a local and loved Maine every bit as much as I do.
He answered everybody’s questions with a grin so bright, it made the sun look dull. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched him go on with great enthusiasm. I remember that type of enthusiasm for a job. I used to have it when I worked for Baxter State Park. I loved that job and still go on and on about it whenever anyone will let me. When someone loves their job, it shows!
Our captain came over the speaker and told us it was time to leave. We were heading out to the Nubble Light House off the coast of York Maine.
The lobsterman almost looked disappointed. He collected the lobster that was getting passed around and tipped his hat to us.
We pulled out of the dock. Our captain hollered for someone to open the foot bridge so we could pass underneath. He got on the speaker and asked us again if anyone wanted a drink as we sailed on towards York.