Observations at Boot Head Preserve in January

By Emily Guirl


The surf is audible from the trail head, also the erratic hooting of an offshore buoy. I stumble over raised roots, turn right at the fork. 

The trees part at the first lookout. The water below is high and white, moving in all directions as it fills the tight cove at the base of the cliff. Clouds in tones of gray are broad and dark over Grand Manan across the channel, light and breaking overhead. Sun glows on the bridge of my nose.

Treading east through coastal woods the trail winds beneath a pine with a Seussian arm that has outlived its trunk, spiraling its way to the canopy. At the boulder field the view falls away to cliff’s edge. My chest vibrates with the sonic ruminations of waves shattering across granite faces, vaporizing into glitter and froth, invisibly digesting.

Further along, a side trail leads to a rock and pebble beach that crackles and pops like candy as each wave recedes. Every fourth swell rolls the ocean further ashore and deepens the grayness of the pebbles it washes. A 20-foot ship cuts white across the mouth of the cove. I hail, but we’re too far apart to connect.

The last half-mile hugs the side of a forested slope where birches shed their skins, one dead with a dry, black wound. Fallen trunks scattered over the forest floor are gradually entombed in moss. Uphill, sunlight darts in through a fence of leafless boughs and branches. The trail circles back on itself and leads me out.