Bar Harbor Souvenir
Beverly Denise Nebb Roosendaal
I went there looking for peace. I found chaos, and then peace found me.
I figured I could locate it in the same way I might find a lost shoe. “Seek and ye shall find,” were the words that followed me to the harbor that day. As I nestled myself onto the grassy hill to watch the activities that lay before me, I was met with a fog whipped day that yielded little clarity. This trip north was an escape, a reward for a year well-done yet acutely exhausting. Shedding the layers of accumulated stress and finding a suitable, calmer replacement - my only goal for these two weeks.
I watched the heavy, white air which did not settle or descend on the afternoon. Rather, it streamed in with a force, a determination, flowing over the islands on the horizon like fast air over a jet wing. The conflict between air and land and trees was superimposed on the horizon as the islands appeared and disappeared and appeared again in rapid evolution. The rugged shoreline poured its rocks and pebbles into the serene waters of the harbor just as the pine trees emptied their scent on top of the salty air, silent competition.
Nature, I noticed, was outspoken by people. Everywhere, people walking, shopping, tapping to iPods, kicking little balls in the park, peering into windows filled with moose and blueberries, talking, singing, hustling, collecting. There were trinkets to buy, pictures to pose, decisions to make, locals to irritate.
“I was here first!” I turned expecting to find two siblings quibbling over an intrusion of personal space. Instead, I found a drama unfolding between two fishermen vying for the same dock. Their grinding engines threatened as their voices crescendoed into hurled expletives. The harbor master did little when called in to mediate. A few words exchanged and the men and their boats went on their way, dissolving the gathered crowd.
A kayaker pushed away from the dock, announced by several honking seagulls. He pursued a slalom course between the clanging lobster boats and other moored vessels which had become victims of time and inertia. I deemed their rusted hulls to be jealous of the freedom and sleekness and agility of the kayaker.
The tide, always in transit, had slid back into the open waters and revealed the sand bar that connected two islands with a wide, pebbly walkway. The walkers, tourists in their sand shoes, hastened across the harbor where there once was water, their stride long and fast so as to return before the sea did. Cars and trucks snuck onto the bar, shrouded in metal trepidation. The drivers’ race against nature held in their watch.
Balance Rock hovered nearby in its cemented position, frozen motion that perplexed most passersby, endearing to tourists, photographers. The questions always hung there: “How? Why? When? Can’t I just push it over?” And then an odd thing happened. As I admired the permanency of the rock’s calmness resting atop the changing tide, something in me reordered itself. The more the perpetual race of chaos and quickness and competition of the harbor swirled, the more peace grabbed me, held me by the collar and announced itself. The introduction was not an answer or a solution or a remedy but rather a companion to the chaos. I need not escape my own disorder to discover this peace (as I had intended), rather I must only permit it to simply emerge. I need not trade an exacted price for it, except perhaps my time, my mind, my allowing.
This harbor, this Bar Harbor, showed me a world in constant motion, in perpetual conflict, yet wrapped in a harmony as impenetrable as the fog that enveloped it all.