Some whimsical soul in the past saw a giant’s staircase in the slabs and boulders along this stretch of Maine coastline, and the name has stuck: Giant’s Stairs. Today, the water crashes against the upheaved rocks, flying into the air in wild abandon. Common eiders bob in the surf. When the males dive, you can see the glimmer of their white plumage flash below the surface. Again and again, my eye follows their ghostly descent until they vanish, only to pop up moments later nearby. Amidst the rocks, snails skim in shallow tidal pools and a piece of kelp casts its shadow. Soft silvered rock glows in the afternoon sun. Flecks of mica sparkle and stripes of quartz erupt in brilliant, hard white fissures.
This landscape tells a story of powerful forces at work, but speaks a language that is foreign to me. Almost like hieroglyphics. Each shape and bubble, each boulder and slab tells of force and movement, of time and wind and weather. I need my own Rosetta Stone to make sense of this world– Something that would explain the layers, the shapes, the cataclysm that shifted horizontal shelves of rock until they were rotated and running in ridges perpendicular to their original orientation. Even without fully understanding, I’m captivated by the story.