When You Share the Things You Love

Version 2

Yesterday, I visited a state park where my sisters and I played as kids.  It was private land then, a park created by a retired couple and shared, for free, with the public.  The wife even crocheted tiny dresses onto tiny dolls and sold them for only a nickel.  I still have mine.  The park was given to the state in the couple’s will, and this plaque acknowledges the spirit of their gift:

“The things we love are most precious when we share them with others.”

This spirit has blessed so much of my research on Emilie Loring.  I have set out for new archives, new towns, and new contacts, hopeful but without expectation, and more times than not, I’ve been met with kindness and generosity.  It’s not only that I meet nice people–and I do–or that they are persuaded by my project, which often happens.  When people care about something, they simply want to share it, see it appreciated, and keep it alive for others to discover.  That’s what happened when I went looking for a rock in Blue Hill, Maine.

Goal rock wprThis rock is a landmark in one of the Loring photos, and I wanted to find it.  It’s big, right?  And distinctive.  So I figured it would probably still be wherever it was when the photo was taken.  Find the rock, find the location.

I knew the photo was taken in Blue Hill, so I went to the Kollegewidgewock Yacht Club to ask for help.  Maybe someone would know the rock.

Do you know how many rocks there are along the coast of  Maine?  That’s right.  A whole lot.  And the chances of finding a particular rock from a photo taken more than one hundred years ago?  Ha!  But Dave at the KYC didn’t laugh me off the planet.  He called Bob Slaven.  You know that people love a place when they will help a stranger look for a rock.

 

Emilie Loring owned the entire stretch of shoreline that you see here, and guessing that my rock was on her property, Bob commandeered this beautiful dinghy and rowed us the full length of her shore and beyond, in and out of tiny inlets and contours, pausing for me to compare bumpy, brown nubs against the black-and-white photo in my hand.  Was it this one?  One of these?  [Do you remember that I just met Bob, and he’s rowing me the full length of the inner bay and back?]

We didn’t find the rock.

I returned to Blue Hill three more seasons, always on the lookout for the rock, but more from habit than true hope.  And then I caught a break.  Four years after the first search, Bob introduced me to the Millikens, descendants of Emilie Loring’s East Blue Hill friends, and they suggested I talk to Henry Becton.  Henry is the son of Henry Prentiss Becton and Jean Coggan Becton, to whom Emilie sold Sculpin Point in the 1940s.  He grew up on that shore, and if anyone would know its rocks, he would.

Henry and I met on Sculpin Point, and I showed him my handful of black-and-white images.  He studied one and took off walking.  On a high point that used to be a clear trail and is now overgrown with trees and shrubs, we held tight to a slender trunk and leaned out.  Bingo!  Even with a hundred years of intervening weather, tides, and plant growth, it was the same scene as in Emilie’s photo, likely taken from just about where we were standing (compare top to bottom, below).  Then we went out to the end of Sculpin Point and looked back toward shore.  Another score!

What were the chances we would find THE ROCK?  Henry looked at the photo and glanced around.  Walked out to the furthest tip of Sculpin Point.  Looked back toward the house. Maybe over there?  We walked about, trying to frame the background as we saw it in the photo.

And there it was.  Exactly in place.  I had my rock.  The Lorings’ photo was taken on Sculpin Point, the “disjointed peninsula of rocks and sand and glittering tide pools” that separates the inner and outer bays (Here Comes the Sun!).  They waded, swam, and picnicked there, enjoying one of the most beautiful prospects in Blue Hill.

And why did I work so hard to find this particular rock?  Because the rest of the photo shows Emilie daintily stepping between rocks on what I can now identify as Sculpin Point.  Take a moment and look at the one-to-one correspondence of rocky contours.  Yes, it’s granite, but still, isn’t it a little remarkable to find the spot so unchanged?  IMG_5884

I love to complete a quest, particularly one that seems impossible at the outset.  Find a particular rock on the Maine coast from a photo taken more than a hundred years earlier?  Well, sure, it’s entirely possible, with the help of kind and interested people who will row boats and clamber about on rocks to help someone they met only minutes before.

“The things we love are most precious when we share them with others.”

That’s why I’m here.  Thanks for stopping by and letting me share with you.  Pass it on!

 

 


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