Friday, August 12, 2011

Island Vignettes

Having the entire world swirl around me as I attempt to step into a small motor boat.  Clinging to my host for dear life waiting for my sense of balance to return.  Disbelief sets in as I recollect being able to skate on single steel blades across the ice with no problem.

Getting a very wet butt as I travel to a small island on Sabago Lake in Maine in the rain.  The phrase "time to pay the ferryman" pops into my head as I stare at my host's battered neon green Crocs resting on the bottom of the boat.

The very old boathouse with a new dock attached.  My friend had built the dock over the summer and it is an engineering marvel.  It is made from white cedar which glows even in the gray rainy dusk.  It has room for the two motor boats and two lovely wooden benches so you can sit and watch the sunrise over the water.

The hundred year old main house with a large gathering room, kitchen and dinning area.  The small sleeping cabins scattered around the outskirts of the property along the water's edge.

Book shelves lining the large living room.  Picking up a book at random and finding that it is in Italian and published in 1893.  I think I found the owner's parents' school books.

The hiss of propane copper sconces casting a soft yellow glow on the wood work.  Barely enough light to read by but great for lazy discussions and story telling.

Kamikaze bugs flying into the propane lights and their bodies gliding slowly downwards to land in my cup of tea.

The gorgeous huge field stone fireplace.  The Native American rug in front of it with rows of stylized corn woven into the pattern.  The scattering of cane rocking chairs ringing the fireplace.  Although it is inviting it is too warm for a fire.

The old wooden windows with hooks and eyes for latches.  One set for open and one set for closed.

The ting of an extended spring and then the warm slap of the wooden screen door closing against the frame instead of hiss of the pneumatic piston and metallic smack of a modern door.

Sitting wrapped in a blanket, watching the sunrise from my wheelchair.  I sat in it because it just happened to be parked next to the kitchen door the night before and it was the first outdoor seating I happened across.

Walking down to the new dock and watching it steam in the morning light as the evening rain evaporates.  The pungent scent of cedar fills my nostrils.

Walking barefoot all weekend and feeling the soft brown pine needles between my toes.

Lying on my belly hanging off the edge of the dock watching the snails in the lake head for cover to get out of the noon day sun.  This took quite a while.

Spending my morning energy reserves exploring the hundred year old buildings on the property: the boat house, the loft room above the boathouse, the carpentry shop, the sleeping cabins, the attic of the main house.  Finding really old sets of drawers, really old books, a hand crank sewing machine, a trunk full of dress up clothes from the 1930s, a very old Red Cross Trunk, white enameled brass beds, lots of maps, old postcards people have left behind, National Geographics dating back to 1919.

Paper tracings of fish caught in the lake hanging on three hooks on the wall.  The day, size, weight, type and fisherman's name all written on the paper outline.  Some made by adults colored in to properly represent the fish and others written in crayon in a young child's scrawl.  A history of fishing dating back to 1918.  They dance constantly in the breeze from the lake.

Boating supplies hung up neatly on wooden pegs on one side of the boathouse with racks of boats on the other.  Finding really old wooden water skis in the rafters.

Lying down on the daybed that our hosts had made for me.  They had dragged a mattress from one of the sleeping cabins and put it on the built in bench seat under the windows in the main house so that I would be close to the only working bathroom on the island.  I would open the window and the screen and lie propped up on pillows watching jet skis, water skiers, sailboats and lots and lots of birds with the breeze blowing in my face and the slap of water caressing my ears.  I felt like I was lying down outdoors.

Pouring over Sibley's bird book trying to decide if I had just seen an Olive-sided Flycatcher or an Eastern Wood-Pewee hovering about three feet away from my nose.

My son hitting another milestone on his path to manhood: learning to start, run and steer an Evinrude outboard motor.

Watching my husband fly his kite from the motor boat as my son drove.  There were too many trees for him to fly his kite on the island.  When the wind was just right it looked like the kite had the boat in tow.

Sneaking out of the cabin in the middle of the night so that I could look at the stars where there is little light pollution.  Not only did I see the Milky Way for the first time in several years but there were so many stars that I was hard pressed to find my familiar constellations.  I did finally manage to pick out the Northern Cross.  So many many stars.  It was glorious!  I snuck back to bed in the dark with dirty feet.

My husband snoring on a mattress on the floor.  He didn't want to leave me by myself in the main house.

Rules of the house:

  1.  Pack out what you pack in.
  2. Left overs will show up in the meals the next day.
  3. All dishes are washed in the morning after boiling a large kettle of water to sanitize them with.
  4. Be respectful of the island.
No running water.  No electricity.  No hot water.  There is a hand crank water pump at the sink that brings up very good tasting well water.  There is a cistern on the roof for the flush toilet and shower.  When they empty a generator has to be fired up so that enough water can be pumped out of the well to fill the cisterns back up.  The stove and lights were all propane.

Standing in the lake while my hostess pours water from a battered pewter jug over my head to rinse the shampoo out of my hair.

Sitting in the lake, naked from the waist up, slathering soap all over myself while the shampoo bottle bobs lazily in the waves next to me.

My husband helping me out of the lake.  Then fetching my comb from the house while I stood half naked in the middle of the island with only a towel keeping me modest.  My hair stayed soft for days afterwards.  I hated to wash it again.

Eating purple green beans and lettuce picked from our hosts' garden earlier that day.  Delicious.

"Bacon always tastes better on the island."

Finding fairy houses built by the little girls that had visited the island before us.

Being surrounded by a bevy of Robins playing chase.  They are much skinnier than the Robins on the main land.

Our host playing horseshoes with my son and my son winning.  Turns out he is very good at horseshoes.  Who knew?

Sitting with my hostess talking about family history while I watch her knit a very fancy scarf out of gorgeous blue mohair yarn.

It was a glorious weekend.

1 comment:

  1. I read this a few days ago in Google Reader and just clicked through and ready it again--it brought tears to my eyes both times, because it sounds like it was so beautiful. I'm so glad you had such a glorious time!