The Faerie Ring
At the eastern extreme of our city on Jewell Island (next stop, London) is a circular enclosure called The Punch Bowl.
Even when the sea is storming around it, inside the bowl it’s as calm as the surface of a 10-foot-deep martini.
Locals guard its secret carefully–it’s as rare as an oceanic lady slipper.
“It’s so funny–people don’t think of Jewell Island as Portland,” but it’s our easternmost boundary, a friend tells me in a hushed voice, as though he’s the Deep Throat of the beautiful and exotic. “The Punch Bowl is big, tidal. It’s way out there, magic, a whole different world. The water comes in and the water comes out and you’ve got this circle out there. I’m sorry I told you about it. If you’re a yachtsman and you never come into the city, Portland is that–a beautiful, wild place,” not the trendy bars of the Old Port.
There’s a rum-soaked tradition that The Punch Bowl is precisely the spot where Captain Kidd hid his stash of gold coins. There’s been talk about Kidd’s lost fortune since his death in 1701–long before the coastal defense observation towers were built at the periphery of our world during World War II.
Maybe the Kidd legend wound up out here because, like the coins, they’re both at the end of the rainbow, part of the mythic ‘You can’t get there from here.’
“Sailing in from the east, you’d think nobody lives in Portland,” Deep Throat continues. “On Jewell, there are houses tangled and pulled apart by vines. In the fall, monarch butterflies pass through here on the way to Yucatán.”
There’s so much right in front of us, barely beyond our grasp. Why not discover ourselves while we’re discovering summer? Maybe I’ll see you east of Eden.