On Your Doorstep Issue 7 - Page 80

SHANNON KALAHAN ACADIA A cool breeze carried the smell of pine on the wind, rustling She closed her eyes, listening to the sound of the water the branches above her as it passed. Though it was still dark, against the rocks below. Then she listened to her heart. “I she was able to make out a narrow trail winding between can do this, safely. I am strong, careful and capable.” the trees, beckoning her to explore. She paused, catching the first notes of a birdsong as the sky began to brighten Each hand hold was grasped with caution, and each foot was with pre-dawn light, then took a step down the path. Fallen placed with intention. Little by little, she made her way to the needles and leaves - a hallmark of the season - crunched tree, and then to the top of the cliff. Her heart hammered in beneath her feet as she made her way through the forest to her chest, though if it was from exertion or excitement, she the shore. couldn’t say. She took a deep breath, tasting the salty air, and watched as the clouds in front of her broke. The light As the trees thinned, she caught a glimpse of the beach and of the rising sun snuck through the gap, and painted the sky felt a tug at her soul. The dirt of the forest gave way to sea- with a vibrant palette of reds, oranges, yellows and purples. polished stones, and in front of her, waves crashed tirelessly In the distance, she could see a cormorant diving between into the cliffs on either side of the cove. The sky was a riot of the waves. She gasped at the beauty of the scene, and for dancing clouds, dark and ominous, shifting in the wind. With a moment, her soul overflowed with joy and gratitude. This care, she crossed the rocky beach to watch the waves kiss place showed her that magic existed, and in her opinion, the shore. There was something divine about that moment; magic was exactly what the world needed. deep in her bones, she knew that it was a gift. Something special was going to happen, and she was fortunate enough Most days, she spent working in a cubicle. She stared at to be part of it. a screen for 8 hours a day, and the rest of the day was a blur. Her daily life was draining, discouraging, and over time By increments, the sky lightened and she wandered to the she realized that she was hungry for something more. She cliffs along the right side of the cove. Part way up the cliff, needed something that would fill her soul rather than deflate there was a stubby fir that caught her attention. Despite the her. She needed adventure. With some desperation, she punishing winds off the Maine seas, and a tenuous grip on grasped upon the first idea that came to mind, to visit a the soils lodged in a bed of rocks, the tree grew. It overcame national park. It was a “maybe someday” item on her bucket the circumstances life threw at it to thrive in an unforgiving list that she had put off for years. It was scary, different, and environment. “Bend so that you do not break,” she whispered always seemed like a dream rather than a goal. It was just to the universe. She had to admire the tenacity of nature. what she needed. There were so many lessons to be learned, if only she listened, and there was no better teacher than these sacred Acadia, she learned, was the only national park near her, so places of the Earth. she booked a solo trip with a few mouse clicks and a shaking hand. That one decision had a profound effect on her life. 80 She scrambled up the cliff, winds buffeting her as she crept Since that initial visit, it became a pilgrimage of sorts, with across the slick rock face. She looked down, watching the her being just one of 3,500,000 people to visit the park over tides shift below her, and tasted fear. The ocean was still the past year. When she first began her research into Acadia, angry from the night’s storm, and one slip into those frigid she read a powerful quote on the national park service waters could be catastrophic. For a moment, she simply website that had remained with her through the years. It clung to the rocks, weighing her safety against her curiosity. said, “The creation of a national park is an expression of faith