Journey to a Sanctuary

Last summer I wrote about our trip to Maine and the area around Muscongus Sound, which included our visit to the Todd Audubon Sanctuary. Last week we were back in Maine, Round Pond to be exact, renting a delightful cottage at the edge of the Pond. One of the delights of being so close to the water is the easy access it provides for kayaking, and what better way to get ourselves out to Hog Island, the very island we had viewed from across the water when visiting the Audubon Society the previous summer! Off we went for a five and a half hour excursion, with the friendliest company en route.

Not only did this seal join us on the way to the island, but there were two seals. And not only were there two seals, but there were also two porpoises! (They do their curvilinear swim faster than I can maneuver my camera ;-))

We paddled across Muscongus Sound, heading north to Hog Island, then through an inlet and into Muscongus Bay, mooring our kayaks on one of the few sandy beaches. (Sandy beaches are not typical in Maine!)

It was one of those gloriously sunny days, an ever so slight clean, clear breeze in the air to fill our lungs. The tide was heading out, so we knew that time was on our side. Having started out a little after 9:00 a.m., even accounting for our “awe” time with the seals and porpoises, it was still early in the morning. Off we went to explore.

The portion of the island that we explored has a number of bunks, a recreation room, a mess hall – think “summer camp” along the lines of slightly worn down wooden buildings designed to have minimal impact on the surrounding area and provide maximal interaction with the environment.

There were paths on the north, east and west sides of the point, and we took the east path, along Muscongus Bay, in search of a spot that would provide a comfortable place to settle ourselves for a view and a picnic lunch. Along the way we discovered yet more bunks, flowers, and the ever present calm, quiet sense of being in a sanctuary. After a slow and relaxing meal, I couldn’t help but pay homage to this place of green trees and nature.

Time and tide wait for no man, and so we found ourselves reluctantly readying ourselves for the return to Round Pond.

We knew we had plenty of time, and we knew the tide wouldn’t really impact our trip, other than determining how far we would wade in either water or mud and grass to get ashore at the return end. However, what we hadn’t thought about, and soon discovered, was that there’s one other force that waits for no man – Maine fog.

We did one last explore of the point, then disembarked and headed back to Round Pond, reversing the route we took to Hog Island. Within moments of reentering Muscongus Sound, we were greeted by a wall of fog coming from the south. It may be that the fog creeps in on little cat’s feet, but maybe Carl Sandburg never made it to Maine, where the fog leaps in on a cheetah and with the density of an elephant!

We were rounding the point and meandering into the Sound, when the fog appeared as if out of nowhere. Previously content to follow Fred’s lead, I was suddenly a kayak’s length ahead of him and cajoling him to “get a move on!”, spurred into action by the simple hope of arriving at the opposite shore before we were engulfed in fog so dense we would not be able to see more than a few feet in front of ourselves.

With a sigh of relief we made it to the opposite shore, beating the fog by mere inches, as we crept our kayaks along the shoreline allowing it to guide us back to Round Pond. All the while our ears were listening with heightened sensitivity, determined to avoid rocks and returning boats. The last sound we anticipated hearing was the squeals of children’s laughter – could they be water nymphs or elven sailors? Hazaah! They were the kids from the Round Pond sailing camp, three and four to a boat (you can pick them out in the photo above), sailing in and out of the fog.

Apparently, the sun often shines on Round Pond, and once within the safe haven of the harbor, the sun was still shining with abundance. The fog wouldn’t roll in for a few hours, bringing with it a magnificent thunder and lightning storm downing five inches of rain, taking out local power along with a few local roads, and producing two tornadoes about an hour south of Round Pond!

Quiet, sun-filled morning on Muscongus Sound, Todd Wildlife Sanctuary on Hog Island, moments of yoga overlooking Muscongus Bay, safe harbor in Round Pond…our day was filled with multiple sanctuaries.


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