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The Stones of Monhegan

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"Combers" are the giant waves that arrive unannounced from some invisible storm hundreds of miles at sea. Around here we call them "rough waves". They have been known to slam an unsuspecting boat against the cliff, or lick tourists off rocks like a frog snatches mosquitoes. This is Maine, after all, not some Disney ride.

Those are real live untrained seals to your right. They don't exactly frolic for the cameras on command. They lie imperfectly across the boulders of Seal Ledge like tawny globs of toothpaste. Finally, 10 miles out to sea, the wildlife is truly wild, and wouldn't raise a flipper of interest if we all went splat against the headwall.

Remember, you are here for the wildness -- the birds, the deer, the swarming bugs and bloodsucking ticks. There are no paved roads on Monhegan, no cars to speak of, no motocross bikes, no skateboards or roller blades. There is only a baby-sized village and 17 miles of woodsy walking trails that curve along the cliffs or cut through marsh and an elegant tall pine forest. No hospital, no movies, no Osco, no Gap.

You must arrive by ferry from Port Clyde, Damariscotta or Boothbay Harbor. You must leave the same way, and the island population ebbs and flows with the panting of the ferry engines. In summer there are basically three places to stay, eight places to eat (if you count the two stores), one place to worship and nothing much going on, which is the ultimate charm of the island. A dozen or more artists summer here and their shops are open now and then for buyers. There are galleries, a few shelves of produce in two tiny stores, a gift shop, a lighthouse and a museum. Half a dozen beat-up trucks criss- cross the dusty roads lugging luggage and provisions from ferry to building and building to ferry. Only the weather, where you walk and whomever you talk with makes one day different from another. Three days on Monhegan and you can't remember where else you used to live. The little library now has internet access for those who must stay connected.

CONTINUED

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017 
 
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