A young family came over from the mainland Sunday morning to collect sea glass on our beach. It turned cold and the fog rolled in, but their sweet enthusiasm was not dampened. They walked away with a bright orange bucket full of treasures as well as a beached lobster buoy that had come ashore. And I was reminded of the good old days when our children were young, and why we are here on an island. Having it all. Away from it all.
Wednesday morning three friends came over to take a walk. We went down the main road and out to the back shore where waves were crashing on shore. Spray and foam boiled up from the sea, and as the surf retreated, a great roar was made by the water rushing back over the rocks. What a show. A whole new world less than two miles from the one outside our door. Who needs to travel half way across the world to see new sights? It's all right here on this tiny island on the coast of Maine.
Here it is with a collection of rocks on my "desk." Art imitates Life imitates Art.
Last night we had dinner with a favorite family on the island. Three generations gathered around a big table sharing fine food, conversation, and the camaraderie of being on an island.
This morning brought a heavy rain, and the news that an old friend had died, leaving a huge gulf in our ranks. Ebb. Flow. Tide in. Tide out. Like the orange rock around which water swirls, memory of him is firmly planted in our hearts and souls and will forever be part of our island landscape.
Our day on the island begins and ends with a walk on the beach, with trips in between to go for a row or walk the dog, or throw old food to the sea gulls.
Everything moves but the rocks, props on a stage around which water dances creating new choreography with each wave, the change of tide, time of day, and passing cloud.
Always the same. Always different.
The beach is a new landscape every hour of every day. Low tide, mid tide, high tide. Rocks uncovered, pools created, ebb and flow, waves and wake. Endless opportunity for new discoveries. Always changing, always new. Metaphor for life?
The sailors came into the harbor flying their bright yellow spinnaker on a perfect afternoon. Before they arrived home, I scurried over to the studio to paint, holding on to the enthusiasm of the last few days. And then I did this. . .
Oil on Wood
...which seems like a good idea. Thus ends a week of solitude.
Thursday morning looked like blue sky potential, so Rosie and I rowed to the dock to do our daily mail run. By the time we got home, the fog was in thick again, and the weather and my mood was deteriorating. Much as I cherish my time alone on the island, the combination of gray skies, cold, and mosquitos was finally getting to me. Thinking I could use an infusion of human contact, I invited the two Heliker LaHotan Artists in Residence, Kathi Smith and Jennifer Rosengarten,a few other visitors, plus several friends from the end of the island to come for cocktails at 6. What a great idea that was. Two hours interacting with interesting, enthusiastic, fun people. What a tonic. And today, like magic, the sun came out and obliterated the angst that has been hanging around me this week.
The day began grey and we are still socked in. 6 p.m. looks a lot like 6a.m. did. As the sailor always says, "Nothing good ever comes from the East." And that is where what little wind we have has been coming from. Cold, wet, grey, fog. But things are looking up. I've lit a fire and dinner is cooking. Despite the weather and ferocious mosquitoes, Rosie has had her evening walk to the beach and is curled up on the kitchen rug. There was a moment this afternoon when I passed by the back bedroom where one of the sailors had left his bed turned down in anticipation of his return. The sky had lightened briefly and the room was filled with warmth and the promise of their homecoming.
Today would have been my father's 100th birthday. He taught me a lot about seeing. About noticing the mundane and making the most of it. About creating designs for living, and about leaving room for chance to invigorate them.
He would not have liked island life. The fog, the grey, the rain. He was a sunshine man. But I think he would have appreciated my neighbor's day lilies which today are glowing orange against the dark green and grey landscape. By chance or by design, there they are a spark of color reminding me of my father and his genius for seeing the spectacular in the smallest insignificant thing.
The sailors set sail late Sunday morning. I read the Times and lazed around in the heat until afternoon when I dragged myself to the studio to continue the tradition of documenting the start of their voyage to nowhere. Then it was time to go hear Jennifer Rosengarten and Kathi Smith, artists in residence at the Heliker LaHotan Foundation talk about their work. It was so hot, and I was so disenchanted, I almost didn't go. But I hopped on my bike and got there in time to see their wonderful, exuberant paintings and soak in their enthusiasm for being on the island. It was just what I needed to set me straight and back on the road to creative endeavor.
The day began with rowing to the dock where a few packages were collected from the shed. Then we stopped in at the store for a cranberry muffin and some chat with the boatyard boys who were on their coffee break. Fortified by that little sustenance and a generous helping of local gossip we rowed back to our end of the island to do a little reading and wait for lunch. Leftover lobster was made into lobster salad sandwiches better than we could have imagined, after which we sat on the deck soaking in summer and thanking our lucky stars (and stripes) that we were here. Together. And free.
This morning brought blue sky and bright sunshine for the first time since we arrived. To celebrate we had a big breakfast on the deck with our friend who had come over from the neighboring island last night to give us welcome relief from ourselves.
She left and we all went in different directions pursuing our favorite warm weather activities. Craving exercise, I went for a long bike ride to the end of the island for the first time this year. Then I vacuumed up the winter from my studio and swept out the garage, finishing with mowing the lawn. Sometime while I was frenetically doing all that, Jan stopped by leaving a delicate bouquet of her last peony and two powder blue meconopsis in a coke can by the stove in our kitchen. Having seen yesterday's painting, she thought they might inspire.
How did she know? It was just what I needed to send me into the studio for the rest of the afternoon.
Finally I found my way to the studio for a few hours yesterday afternoon. Settling in to life on the island is never easy. No matter how much planning and shipping and shopping and list making one does, there are things that seem essential that are missing. On top of that, there is jet lag, mosquitoes, and then the weather, which this week has been grey and dismal. It takes awhile to remember why we are here. Sharing dinner with Jan who arrived with an enormous red peony picked that afternoon and presented in a beautiful blue bottle was just the reminder we needed. Friendship, natural beauty, and a simple meal shared. The stuff that island life is made of.