Visiting Home

[Above Photo: Meadow and harbor at sunrise ]

16 July 2017

It feels a little strange to “visit home”, rather than to live at home and visit somewhere away. But it is lovely here and feels like a comfortable shirt. Today Harold and I took a double kayak around the island and then, feeling no pain, around Colt’s Head and around the Barred Islands. On our way we were observed by 10 or so curious seals, saw several dolphin, and witnessed the local bald eagle and an immature offspring sitting on Colt’s Head, then flying off to the Barreds.  We are catching up on family and careers and, as always, Harold has amazing [true] tales of accomplishments and people he has met or knows. At his level (Nobel Prize, etc) a lot of people seek your advice. He was recently in India, talking with Prime Minister Modi about the direction of Science in India. I miss Connie his wife, who visits and usually returns from a harbor swim each morning when I arise; the harbor is about 58 degrees. Wild horses and a squad of Marines couldn’t get me in there, then!

Beach Island is not without its misadventures. I needed to pump our water tanks an hour ago and after running a bit, the generator died. Assuming it was out of gas, I went to the flammables shed to be greeted by—-a swarm of wasps! Yikes! I shut the door and went to the house, putting on long pants, a long shirt, socks and shoes, a cap and a Bug Baffler. The latter is a parka, with a hood enclosing your face, made of mosquito netting. I grabbed the can of wasp spray, which advertises it will get them at 23 feet and returned to the flammables shed. Indeed, there was a grapefruit-sized nest hanging in the middle of the roof. One blast and they were done. I grabbed the gas can, returned to the generator and found the tank full. Puzzled, I remembered suddenly that we now turn the fuel valve off after we use it. I turned it on and pumped.

I’m quite the wasp killer. Two days ago at 5AM I was awakened by what sounded like a motor in the back meadow. Sitting up with my glasses now on, I could see a large swarm of wasps/hornets outside my window. I peeked out the door, saw a nest, employed my spray can, and concluded that chapter.

Four days ago my niece, Deirdre, ran in the house breathless: “Your boat is sinking.” What!? Chas and I drove out in it 6 days before; it ran perfectly and took the seas kindly. It has been sitting on the mooring since then. There was a moderate blow from the NW the prior night with choppy seas and possibly the transom, with 350+# of Yamaha outboard on it, dipped in, took water, was then heavier and took on more. As I sprinted—well, jogged fast—toward the dock, I saw her down in the stern, then suddenly flip over. Turned turtle, as they say. That name, Turtle, may stick. After some thinking and planning we towed her to the beach, keeping her offshore enough not to bang on the ground. Six of us, donned in wetsuits, stood up to our necks in water and using timbers from the barn, levered her right side up. Then we heaved her to the beach, bailed her out, and put her on the mooring, but not before I removed the engine cowling and sloshed 20 gallons of fresh water over the engine.  I towed her in to South Brooksville shortly thereafter and the next morning assisted in putting her on a trailer to be taken to Condon’s Boat Yard. [Of the same Condons mentioned in the Robert McCloskey story “One Morning in Maine”.] To console myself for the possible demise of our new (used) engine, I had supper at Bucks, the terrific restaurant run by Jonathon Chase in SB; simply the best pork chop I’ve ever had, washed down with a Guinness.

As freighted as the island is with memories, some good and some painful, it is lovely and so special for me. I’d love to bring some of our friends from Malawi here; it would seem exotic to them. To think of Maine as exotic is an unusual stretch.  Certainly being bitten by our mosquitoes and not needing to fear malaria would be a treat!

My guard is down here. I feel I could winter over, though I’d be a strange critter by Spring, since Linda wouldn’t want to stay the whole time and that much listening only to my own gears grinding could be tiring, at least. We are social creatures and although I am OK being alone for a few weeks, I do better grounding myself at times with others, not to mention the pleasure of it. Which reminds me, our friends Joe and Alan welcomed me back so wonderfully with a lovely lunch on their porch and a tour of two cottages owned and for sale by their friends.  And it was so good to see Steve at Mystery Cove Bookstore in Hull’s Cove. There are many such good and interesting people here and, while my Berkeley friends will always be so, I am much less concerned about making a new set here than I was previously. When I finally settle down.

A goldfinch just landed on my birdfeeder. They are hungry little devils and go through two cups of birdseed in a few hours. A baby hummingbird has found my feeder and is coming again and again to drink.  Birdsong all around. I made a wonderful Sally Schneider (Google the recipe.) ancho chile/cocoa/cumin rub for a pork shoulder I now have seasoning in the fridge overnight; slow-cooked it is beyond belief.  I’ll make a risotto with some smoked sausage Harold brought for tonight’s supper. I sent the book review off. I’m starting to relax, not so easy for me. And Deirdre is graciously leaving her very beautiful wooden Folkboat for me to sail. Nephew David and his wife, Kir, have two sets of friends here this week, each with children and all of whom I really enjoy.  It is such an accident that we “own” the island; it is so nice to share it with others who love it as well. Kids, of course, are crazy about it; the freedom, the novelty, shooting bottles in the water to make, several years later, sea glass or “pirate treasure”, as we call it. Fishing, boating, swimming, safety. How it should be. If your young child is gone for 4 hours in Berkeley or Blantyre, you worry they are raped or killed.  Here, you know they have a life jacket on if they are on the dock or in a boat and you know that wherever they are, someone will feed them lunch.

I was so very proud of how every islander rose to the capsizing of the boat and contributed. Everything from driving the tow boat to holding the boat steady to heaving it over to bailing and pumping it to recording it all with a camera and to bringing hot tea to those in the water…..no one was injured, we learned a ton, and maybe the engine is salvageable.  My kind of crew. It recalled to me the immense coming together of sane voices and opposition after DT was elected and began to show his stuff, a capsize if ever there was one. And the resistance, humane and concerned for our citizens, our country, and the world,  shall continue as needed.

2 thoughts on “Visiting Home

  1. Your post keep getting better. We’ll be back in Maine the last week of August following our annual migration north on sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. Will you still be in residence?

    Harry Richardson

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