Four of us were expected at the Island Teacher’s Conference, sponsored by the Island Institute and held in Belfast last week. Teachers, school committee members, and other staff from one-room schools and some of the other island schools would be attending. The networking is fun; the hard part is getting there. Needless to say, the weather forecast did not guarantee conditions “flyable” on the day we needed to cross the bay.
My season has ended. The big steel display rack is down, and there are no more wee dark hours with Hobart the mixer and the BBC on the radio. This time of year, I bake a round for my regular neighbors every couple of weeks, and things are considerably less structured. I love my summer business, but there is no denying that even when living life means being surrounded by cinnamon rolls, doing the bakery thing is absolutely work.
My desk, at the moment, is a large cable reel that once held electric wire. My office chair is a picnic cooler. Around me in my little campsite: balsam fir saplings and the breeze overhead in the pines (I do have to pick pine needles out of the keyboard from time to time). On the other side of a few trees, the sounds of livestock, power tools, laughter, and trucks. I am at the Common Ground Country Fair, in Unity, but few of you will see me.
Life is good when you can get the parts.
One of the fishermen called up a few days ago from down the island. “I’ve gotta have a weird fitting.” He described what he wanted: quarter-inch pipe by three-quarter-inch flare with a 90-degree angle. “That’s not weird.” Sure, I thought, hearing one side of the conversation from the next room. It’s not weird for HERE.
Do you remember where you were on the day we call “Nine-Eleven?”
Of course, the weather right now is better than it has been for three months. Of course, the skies are brilliant and the air is fresh and the breeze is gentle and the fog has backed off all the way to New Brunswick. Needless to say, few are here to enjoy these amazing days.
Liam and Neil are here, from England and Nevada, respectively, by way of our daughter’s high school. A few random visitors are still around; Jim’s sister, Hal’s niece, Ann’s and Ava’s grandkids squeeze in a few days before school starts, before work becomes inflexible.
The strangest thing was how the boats were not lined up as usual, swinging on their moorings together and all facing the same direction.
No-- the strangest thing was how the sun was shining. It was hot, actually very hot, brilliant, with almost no wind. Those facts conflicted with what our eyes were taking in, as we watched our harbor go through the cycle of the high tide. The last time we’d all been here like this was for the one they called the Patriot’s Day Storm back in April a year ago. I remember a screeching gale, and cold, driving rain.
A bunch of the Irregulars were sitting around my kitchen table the other night comparing notes on the rather heavy crop of newspaper reporters that we’ve seen this season. This particular summer, members of the press corps are some thick on the ground around here. Evidently last week a couple of the boys from the Associated Press found their way into the “Farmer’s Market” (this year, sans farmers). That would be our little summer craft-fair and coffee-break gathering held weekly in the Matinicus church basement.
“What the heck is going on out there on that island?”
They keep calling, e-mailing, showing up on the doorstep — reporters and freelancers, summer visitors who feel that they’re insiders and off-island friends who think this place is nearly outer darkness. Some are truly concerned about troubled neighbors; others are just vultures, eager for
sensationalist dirt. The first group I cannot help. The second is worthy of not one minute; I won’t give them a thing.
Here are some more thoughts from the Shoe is on the Other Foot department, wherein yours truly drops all pretense of Outlaw Island cynicism and reverts to the status of map-toting, camera-bearing tourist. Of course, my trip to Monhegan was entirely about work. “Looks like I have to go to Monhegan,” I mentioned to a couple of the regulars, who winced sympathetically.