a walk at Irish Point


One of my last walks on Swan’s Island involved a trek out to Irish Point, a spit of forest-topped granite that juts out between a beautiful rocky cove on one side, and the long crescent of a sandy beach on the other.  This area is called Irish Point because early in the island’s history there was a group of Irish laborers — woodcutters, I believe — who made their encampment here.   The granite boulders that are piled up at the end of the point are almost sculptural in form, and one set of boulders formed what looked almost like a tiny amphitheater.

As my walking partner K. and I navigated the beaches we stumbled across the usual detritus — lobster buoys and random bits of Styrofoam and rope — as well as plenty of crab hats (the upper portion of empty crab shells) and lobster mittens (detached lobster claws that have made their way to the shore unattended).  Later, as we made our way to West Point to look for the remains of a hotel that was built somewhere in the area in the 1800s (nothing but a pit now, apparently), we stumbled across a line of raccoon prints that crisscrossed the sandy beach.

The spruce forest lining the shore of West Point was full of trees that had been blown over, sometimes in pairs or groups of three.  The soil in this area can be pretty shallow so the trees blow over easily in high winds, their roots gnarling up into the air like strange feet.  The particular stretch of spruce forest that we walked through was covered with a carpet of sphagnum moss that was so deep and soft that it would have been easy to lie down in it and take a nap.  Forget about memory foam — I want a sphagnum mattress.

We never did find the foundation of the hotel, but in the middle of the forest, near a green stream, we came across an ancient hand-dug well that was lined with rounded granite stones, the mysterious trace of former inhabitants.  It was surrounded by a mossy lip, and filled with dark black water.

Autumn must be the season for reflection on Swan’s Island.  Walking back from the beach, we passed pool after pool of water, filled with fallen leaves and reflecting the sky.


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