I get a lesson in climate change at The Harbor Café, which overlooks Stonington Harbor.
Oscar and I decide to have lunch there on Day Eighteen. (Thursday, Jan. 27, if you’re keeping track of our artists-in-residency at the Deer Isle Artists Association gallery.)
The Harbor Café is a Stonington institution, open year round and, when nothing else is open, the restaurant of last resort. The food is what you’d expect in a Maine fishing village: hearty American fare.
Oscar and I sit in the window so we can watch the world go by, mostly in pickup trucks. Sandra brings me the haddock sandwich I ordered. The fish is the size of a pork roast. Oscar ordered the same. This is about as good as fried fish gets. We are happy.
“They’ve stopped working on Hagen Dock,” I say. “The barge is gone.”
A fisherman, an older gentleman at the next table, laughs. “They ran out of money,” he said. “They’re good at that.”
“They’ve done the hard part,” says Oscar.
“The hard part is finishing it,” says the fisherman.
“Maybe the hard part is paying for it,” I say.
The fisherman explains the dock has to be built up to the orange barrels. They’ve actually just paused because of the weather.
“There’s going to be a catwalk around it, so we can’t tie our skiffs up to the floating dock anymore,” says the fisherman. “Years ago I wanted them to fill in the harbor, build a wharf, shore up those buildings. When I first got here all those buildings were on dry land.”
Now they’re on pilings. “Wow,” I say.
“The tides are two feet higher than they were 20 years ago,” the fisherman says. “They used to be 10 feet. Now they’re 12. Those buildings are all gonna be gone. If they’d done like I suggested, we could put our boats right up to the wharf, there’d be parking.”
“People could walk along the waterfront,” I say. “Tourists love that.”
“And there’s plenty of grout,” he says. “Just barge it over from Crotch Island.” There is a quarry on Crotch Island. Some days when the wind is right you can hear the rumble and roar of the quarrying.
Sandra brings the check. Oscar insists on paying. I always worry, because Oscar can’t do numbers. He pays with a credit card but he doesn’t leave a tip. I slip Sandra $5 bill. “Oscar can’t do numbers,” I say. She smiles.
I painted one of those buildings on the waterfront. Wonder how long it will last.