The water, as I learned firsthand, repels the intrepid swimmer by mere temperature: some 10 degrees Celsius. So I turned my attention instead to my reading or ways of playing on its own themes. Despite Barthes showing little interest for self or identity in Comment vivre ensemble or Fragments d’un discours amoureux, I wondered if I might lift therefrom certain methodological innovations. Of particular importance seemed to me his “traits”, which I have artlessly rendered elsewhere as “lines”, “strokes” or even “throughlines”, zones of inquiry around a theme with no relation of hierarchy between them. In the conjugation of factors in identity, I thought to find just such “traits”: nationality, ethnicity, religion, language, upbringing and so forth.
Setting my book aside, I turned my attention, with the aid of documentation on-site, to the sand beneath me. Indeed, it reveals itself as a mix of barnacle, periwinkle, sea urchin and mussel in contrast with Maine’s native cobblestone beaches. Where these presented lines that one could follow easily with the naked eye, Sand Beach’s namesake remained unavailable in some sense and called instead for close study with proper equipment. My thoughts returned to my reading, and I asked myself whether there might not be a similar work of fragmentation on all things, even as it relates to interiority and the self.
At that time, my companion came back from his dip in the sea. We washed, redressed, and set out for the day’s last trail, which brought us perhaps an hour or two later to Otter Cove. For once, our roles reversed, and I attempted to bring his attention to certain of my thoughts. What confronted me was the inverse of the ability that he had shown earlier. For he seemed to empty his person immediately of all that had gone in while listening and displayed little memory of the exchanges leading to the present. In the end, it amounted to the same thing in that, whether speaking or listening, he maintained ever a void at his very center.
Back in the car, we made our way slowly back to the park entrance. We turned down a sideroad to meet with a lighthouse outpost of the Coast Guard. More interesting than the lighthouse itself proved an information panel to one side, detailing how each light boasts a flashing pattern all its own, in color, brightness and time, the conjugation of which allows seafarers to identify each precisely so as to track their own locations: some darkening every few seconds, others flashing red every other second, and so on to infinity or an upper limit of seventy, the number of Maine’s dwindling lighthouses. At least, I imagined them in decline.
Again on the main road, our last sight before leaving Acadia to head north took the form of two juvenile foxes trotting along the road with nary a care in the world. As our vehicle drew nearer, one paused and locked eyes with me for a moment. Having found there whatever it had been seeking, the fox rejoined its partner, crossed the road, and disappeared down the embankment, presumably on its way to the seaside. From the passenger seat, I was uncertain what to make of this encounter with wildlife, which, while not tame, showed no fear of human artifice, having had no reason to fear it. It made, all things considered, for a refreshing change.