|LITTLE OF NEW ENGLAND'S ROCKBOUND COAST
remains in public ownership, undeveloped and natural. The biggest
portion comprises Acadia National Park, which does a wonderful
job preserving the natural beauty of part of Maine's coast, its
coastal mountains, and its offshore islands. Weather permitting, you
can drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point here, for
a spectacular view of this coast. Or better yet, park your car and walk
or bike into the nature and history of the park on its many trails.
Acadia, as the name suggests, was French before it was English and then
American. French frigates hid from English men-of-war in Frenchman Bay,
screened from detection by the Porcupine Islands. The French and
English battled for possession of North America from 1613 until 1760.
French explorer Samuel de Champlain sailed into the Bay in 1604 and
named this Mount Desert Island because of its landmark bare top.
The sea encircles, thrusts inland, and fogs here. In the midday sun its
bright-blue surface is studded with lobster buoys. In fog all is gray
and muted. Somewhere out at sea engines may mutter, but the lobster
boat is blurred or lost in a formless world. Seen at sundown from
Cadillac Mountain, the sea glows in soft pinks, mauve, and gold. Gulls
wing silently home to distant islands, and, like fireflies,
navigational aids flash warnings from reefs, islands, and headland.
Between the sea and the forested mountains here is the small,
fascinating, almost nether world of the tidal zone.
Twice daily exposed to air and drowned by sea water, it is a world of
specially adapted organisms. Tide pools, pockets of sea water stranded
in rock basins, are microhabitats brimming with life and exposed to
view. In these natural aquariums you can watch marine animals going
about their business. This zone of life is amplified here by Acadia's
tides, which vary from 9 to 14 feet, averaging 11 to 12 feet. It is the
primeval meeting place of earth and water.