WEDNESDAY NIGHT we arrived at Pemaquid Point and checked into our hotel, which stands a few paces behind the lighthouse. Pemaquid point, which means “long finger,” juts out into the ocean in strands of white and black rock.

Soon a terrific storm blew in. The sky blackened and clouds thickened. The sky unleashed sheets of rain, which pounded the ground in hammer blows. Lightning flashed wildly. Peering through the windows of the 1888 hotel, we watched the night light up in electric circus glare, then fall again into darkness. “Four thousand lightning strikes in the state of Maine tonight,” the hotel lady announced, handing out flashlights in case of power outage. The old building trembled in the storm and the lights flickered.

Later, after the storm had traveled away into the ocean, Caleb and I waded through cold puddles out to the point. In perfect darkness, the lighthouse flashed gold every five seconds. As if in answer, the Eastern sky lit up with lightning. Orbs of white light appeared, like shadows of the rising sun, then disappeared. Lightning danced on the water like bony fire fingers or like a giant silver tree growing down to earth with its roots in heaven. The two lights flashed on our right and left. We stood riveted in the middle, watching the conflict. And we suddenly realized we were holding tightly to one other.

THE NEXT DAY, we spent several hours on the point. The beach was filled with stones smoothed and polished by the waves. I took off my shoes and waded into the clear water – into the golds and browns and blues of the under-surface kingdom. The waves crashed in and seeped back out. Seaweed boiled up and made flourishes. Lobstermen sailed nearby, letting down their pots into the ocean. Seagulls soared and dived.  I stood on a sleek rock for a long time, silent and still, lost in the free play of the wind, the icy bite of water and heat of the sun, the rhythmic roar of the tide, and the glitter of light and shadow. I drank in the joy of the earth.

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