What little I know about Pulpit Harbor

buckman-160801Pulpit Harbor reminds me of a favorite aunt of mine, there being a pleasing disposition, interesting character, old-school charm, and sense of style to it that has aged well, and is a pleasure to behold.

Though hardly wild, there’s a pleasing ruggedness to the spruce-crowned shore, and a sense that the little community is possessed of a certain organic reserve, anchored solidly in the past, and knows how to live well, if quietly.

A half-dozen small emerald alcoves ravel the shore, creating a sense of expansiveness, despite the harbor’s modest size. First among them is Ministers Creek, which indents the south shore soon after you pass Pulpit Rock. A protected berth when a snotty southwester is up, we’ve found good holding clear of the moorings, and it’s a ringside seat – sometimes a little too much of one, wake-wise – for the comings and goings of the fleet. No landings should be made here.

The harbor is protected, except in winds west through northwest, and peppered with moorings, quite a few of which are always unoccupied and tempt new arrivals with their convenience, but come at the cost of not leaving your boat unoccupied, should the owner turn up to claim it. There’s room to anchor here, and tour ashore without worrying of such things.

You can get away from the crowd, too. Taking to a rowing dinghy and proceeding under the road bridge at the head of navigation, one comes upon a narrow watercourse cutting nearly a mile deep into bold, spruce-crowned shores, where cormorants, ospreys, eagles, and a pregnant stillness presides over its mud-bound reaches.

There’s not a service to be had in Pulpit Harbor, though the town dock at the northwest extremity of the cove is a gateway to a variety of distractions and attractions. It’s an easy mile-and-a-half walk to the North Haven General Store – if you can make the distance without being offered a ride. The store has a good selection of victuals – including fish, locally raised vegetables, giant sized Hershey Bars – and a run of wine.

North Haven is among the most civilized of Downeast islands. Thumbing a ride is a ridiculously easy way to explore the place: We almost always get a lift from the first car passing by. Such encounters have proved particularly entertaining and enjoyable, our drivers wanting to pursue common threads in the few minutes we have. That’s how we met “Bicci” a few years ago, a silver-haired woman of great charm, humor and lively ways, who we remember fondly and hope to cross paths with again.

Boating bicyclists will find much to please the senses along the north shore road. Sweating out the uphill stretches, you’ll soon be gliding through dark canyons of spruce, like a bird in flight, skimming past saltwater farms and meadows that call you to lie down in. All roads lead to the village of North Haven, which has a take-out offering good fare of the burgers-and-fries sort, an art gallery and the hustle and bustle of the ferry.

A single night at Pulpit Harbor rarely feels enough, but with the considerable charms of Penobscot Bay close at hand, it’s a luxury to rest easy and go deep.

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