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  • A few of us at the Island Institute had been way downeast, tucked up under the Canadian border, living on the boat for several days and conducting a scenic assessment of Cobscook Bay.

    On the final October day in that beautiful northeast corner of the coast, we left the bay, Eastport, Lubec, and West Quoddy Head behind us and got in a short afternoon leg of the longer trip home to Rockland. The rest of the crew left me in Cutler that night, and I had the great prospect of a solo trip home… just me, the boat, the cameras, and a bit of food. I remember sleeping inside two sleeping bags that cold night, and when I woke and opened the cabin door I discovered we had just had our first snow of the season.

    Bundled up aboard 26 ft. FISH HAWK, I left that morning headed southwest. I hadn't gone far when, off Bailey's Mistake, I saw some men tending a weir, so I put the wheel over and went in to check it out. I had a few initial words with a couple of the guys but they were busy, as well as somewhat wary of an unknown guy with cameras aboard an unknown boat with ISLAND INSTITUTE writ large along the hull.

    I was weighing my options (leave or be a pest) when I noticed one of them staring, slack-jawed up into the sky behind me. Turning around I beheld one of the most striking sundogs I've ever seen and made this slightly under-exposed image. Once again, that simple.

    But this print has touched many people in many, to me, surprising and deeply moving ways. It has been present for three deaths as best I can reckon; people have bought it and wanted it near the beds of ailing loved ones, to be with them through their final temporal journey. It has inspired two poems and a couple of people have asked permission to base paintings on it.

    All of this is both humbling and gratifying to me, but I've also been surprised to learn how many people have never seen a sundog their entire lives. I see them fairly frequently and this contrast in awareness makes me grateful for whatever it is in me that keeps my ocular radar on.
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