Snow Racing on Chariots of Wind
There is nothing quite like experiencing a northeast gale on the front lines, where land and sea meet. The intensity of each storm with its winds and seas may vary, as too does the position of the tide and the inundating surge that can accompany times of high water. Yet for the winter tempest that is deemed name worthy – no matter how many come a-calling during the season, there are stark similarities.
A northeast storm’s ability to spawn feelings of respect, awe and dread amongst residents of coastal communities remain constant traits. The third in a string of northeast storms to batter the coast of Maine during March 2018 was no exception.
Unlike the previous storm, the northeaster on March 13th was less about wild seas running unrestrained and more about heavy snow and blizzard conditions, seemingly quite acute in nature given the proximity to spring.
As the day wore on and the grip of winter storm Skylar grew stronger, a sense of whirling chaos was only exacerbated – and nowhere was this more evident than by the sea. Gale force winds sent copious amounts of snow flying in horizontal fashion through the air, all of which suffocated the atmosphere it had commandeered so thoroughly.
This type of frenzied energy is irresistible to anyone with a fondness for storms, but awe-inspiring scenes are not the only riveting aspects. Regardless of its choice of winter armaments, a robust northeast gale also conjures up vivid feelings of desolation that are impressed upon both mind and body.
Such was the case during a stop at the Rockland Breakwater, which was timed to coincide with winter storm Skylar ramping up in intensity. What played out in front of me was nothing less than impressive – exhilarating scenes cloaked in a dress of white-out and packing the punch of a boxer, which periodically tested one’s ability to remain upright in the face of the storm’s fierce countenance.
The northeast wind may have been the supreme force behind the fascinating chaos that filled the air and stirred the sea, but what stood out for me most was the unshakeable bleakness that, by its nature, should have been disheartening but rather was strikingly beautiful in its own right.
The usually vibrant hues of the seascape along Penobscot Bay and Rockland Harbor were transformed into a neutral canvas created with broad brush strokes of black and white. Tranquility was banished to parts unknown – having utterly been displaced by the escalating drama.
The allotted time for immersing myself in such a grand thriller was short – there would be no lingering on this day, but the experience will live on in memory and further strengthen the allure of the sea in my heart.