The Marginal Way, Beginning in Gray

It started off overcast and gray, spitting a bit of rain, and blowing a rather cruel wind through my flimsy spring shirt. The season was late in coming to Ogunquit too, but rain or shine it was impossible not to let the town work its magic. Sometimes it worked faster than others, such as the morning we walked the Marginal Way.

On days of gray, there is a different kind of beauty at work, one in which texture and shadow become key, where the subtle palette of moss and lichens reveals its myriad complexities. The gradations, while softer, are just as richly varied if one takes the time to adjust and fine-tune our perception.

It’s a matter of perspective, of shifting the way you expect things to be. This is not an altogether unwelcome task, as it encourages a new way of appreciating the world.

So much joy is based upon that, and we should always be open to the opportunity for more joy.

While crested waves cap an undulating body of somber aquamarine, under-saturated in color but infinitely interesting in form and shape, the eye roams over what would often be lost or thrown away as a less-than-perfect day. When visiting, however, there can be no such things as a wasted day, and so we walked on, the promise of an early lunch in Perkins Cove leading us forward and around the final bend.

For some reason, we never spend much time in Perkins Cove. We pause there at the end of the Marginal Way, we cross through to get to the Ogunquit Museum, or we have an early lunch in lieu of a late breakfast – but in and of itself the Cove has never been a designated destination.

Sometimes, as on this day, we take it in and inhabit the moment, as I devour a plate of oysters and a trio of fish tacos at MC Perkins.

As we ingested our meal, the entire day transformed itself. The clouds had blown far off-shore, the sun had come out, and the skies were revealed in their truest, bluest form.

The ocean lit up as if from within – every imaginable shade of blue and green and absolutely everything in-between. Against the shore, the lime green freshness of the first flush of spring foliage – tender and shiny and new – was the brightest it would be all year.

It was a fleeting moment, a special time. Most of us don’t realize that as it’s happening. We don’t think of the fact that this is the only time of the year that it will be like this. In a way, every day and every moment could be seen as such. It wasn’t something I thought about much, and outside of occasionally contemplative moments like this, I still don’t. Not enough as I should, anyway.

The way back along the Marginal Way always seems shorter and quicker to traverse. In the sun, it also seems more vibrant and alive. The difference is profound, and the time for subtle quietude is broken by the pounding surf of the incoming tide.

Only a few tiny flowers, sheltered in a shaded nook and protected from the wind, convey the soft way the morning began. These flowers are so little they go unnoticed by most passers-by, and I have kept their location secret so that they remain so.

Amid the shouts of excited children and reprimanding adults, in the sharp gusts of wind and the sparkling flickers of sun on the sea, only pockets of peace exist now. We walk through it all, slowing at the end, which is really the beginning, where it is warm and spring-like at last.

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