Bob Crosby basks in the warmth of both sunshine and the fabled “Frog Rock” of Washington County. Credit: Courtesy of RJ Heller

“I am wanting to go and find Frog Rock,” my friend said with a sly smile. I waited to see if he was serious. He was.

Having spent seven years living here, there are few things that surprise me. But going to see a giant rock shaped over time and eventually named “Frog” seemed intriguing, to say the least.

Our journey began one sunny afternoon in September before the pandemic changed life for good. My friend had wanted to do this trip for years, but, like much in life, this one morsel of time just seemed to be skipped over in pursuit of other, more important, items on the list. He and his wife would spend a couple of weeks every summer at their cottage in Starboard. During their visits my friend always shared a couple of “did you know” type stories. By the end of their stay I would know a little bit more about the Down East area where we live. Their subsequent visits and our conversations would always be an education for me. Frog Rock was one of those lessons.

He and his wife arrived to pick me up. We sat in the car at the bottom of the driveway. My friend could hardly contain his excitement. He began showing me a file — yes, a file — he compiled with various articles, notes and maps all about this geological oddity. We sat there as I perused his notes which oozed intent to find this large, frog-shaped rock, now in Technicolor, having been painted some time ago and located somewhere in Washington County.

This stone anomaly sits in an area within the fabled blueberry barrens running for miles through and around Cherryfield, Columbia and Deblois. Bisecting the barrens is the baseline road, which is a story unto itself. In short, the 5.4 mile-long Epping Baseline Road was the last of seven “baselines”— a perfectly straight surveyed line used by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey to help map the North Atlantic and East Coast in the 19th century.

Traveling into the barrens is like stepping onto another planet. There are moments when you can easily end up going in circles. During our journey, at times, it did seem as though we were lost and would never find what we were looking for or, for that matter, our way out once we finished.

When we found it, we walked right up, placed our hands on the colored stone and — seeing the size and girth of the rock — fell into quiet. The rock resembles a frog relaxing in a green field that for our visit glistened in the light with bits of blue and hints of deep scarlet as the barrens were beginning to sleep with autumn’s arrival. Calm invaded us, and life at that moment came to a screeching halt. It was a weird yet joyous feeling, to be with friends seeing something for the very first time.

I saw more than what I came to see. While taking in the vast expanse occupied by the barrens, I could not help but wonder how on earth did this rock come to rest right here on this very spot? With an imaginative mind, the creation of the world can be gleaned from a casual stroll through the barrens. Traces of glacial nudges, lost lakes and primordial dew abound.

Living life Down East is one long journey, if you think about it. The path can lead you most anywhere, physically and spiritually. There is boundless beauty everywhere. All you have to do is take the time to see it and realize what seems special and unusual to the visitor is home for us. We are given the opportunity every day to see and experience some very special things: vibrant colors from trees and ground, beaches of multi-colored stones and granite; blooming fog, crazy tides, one-of-a-kind sunrises that are the very first to be seen in the U.S.; fishing boats that leave and return every day like clockwork; haunting sea smoke, lighthouses flashing smiles — and on this particular day a huge rock shaped like a frog, dressed in colors that complement, with a slight smirk running from cheek to cheek. Do frogs even have cheeks?

After we packed everything up and took one last glimpse of the barrens in all their glory and said our own personal goodbye to “the rock,” there was a silence shared between the three of us — each of us taking in the moment, processing it in our own unique way before turning away to head back to our own lives, having now crossed off another “to-do.”

My friend settled in behind the steering wheel and, with a click of his seatbelt, turned to me.

“Next year, let’s find Snake Rock,” he said.

RJ Heller, Down East contributor

RJ Heller is a journalist, essayist, photographer, author, an avid reader and an award-winning book critic who enjoys sailing, hiking and many other outdoor pursuits. He lives in Starboard Cove.