After a very long winter, spring has arrived on the island in a flurry of crocuses and daffodils. Covid-19 has meant an island life even quieter than usual, with most people staying home throughout the winter except for necessary forays to the grocery store or medical appointments. We will look back on it as a winter of cancellations–no potlucks, no church services, no holiday parties with half the island crammed into someone’s living room. But it has also been a time of neighbor helping neighbor, whether it’s lending a hand with shoveling, checking in to see who needs a pickup at the grocery store, or driving a friend to a medical appointment. Although there have been no services at our little white church, volunteers continue to ring the church bell at noon every Sunday, just to signal that we are here and available for help if anyone needs it.
Fortunately, life is slowly returning to normal. Most residents are now vaccinated and many are once again heading to the mainland for lunch at one of the open restaurants or for the simple pleasure of wandering around Reny’s. Construction is booming and before long summer people will be rumbling across the bridge that connects us to the mainland. There are no “good” places to wait out a pandemic, but if it has to be done, there are certainly worse places than on a small island in Maine.
Is there a better month anywhere than July on a small island off the coast of Maine? Although I’ve had the good fortune to travel widely, I haven’t found a better place to spend the peak summer month. Swimming, boating, lolling in the hammock, as well as fairs and festivals fill up the month. And the weather is glorious. Sometimes steamy, yes, and an occasional thunderstorm, but for the most part it’s a month of clear blue skies and gorgeous weather.
The Fourth of July has come and gone once again, but we still see fireworks on the mainland as small midcoast towns continue to celebrate summer with local fairs and celebrations. And occasionally we see them even closer to home. Our neighbors recently celebrated a special event with fireworks set off from their dock into the water. It was a spectacular sight right in our own backyard.
July has been my favorite month since childhood. School was over, hot weather and summer camp had arrived, and there was still plenty of time when I returned from camp to enjoy the beach and friends before having to think about school again. And when my camp days were over, it was time for a summer job followed by late-night swims and clambakes at the beach.
I’ve begun a book about year-round life on a small Maine island in response to many emails and inquiries, so stay tuned, continue to follow this occasional blog when you can, and feel free to share your own thoughts about Maine with me.
Savor the last days of July. We will recall them fondly next January!
March is always an intriguing month here on the island, with bitterly cold days followed by days like today filled with sunshine and birdsong that make you feel as if spring is right around the corner. All in all it has been a very easy winter, especially compared to the winter of 2014-15 when we were buried under 10 feet of snow. As of right now we’ve had just 35 inches or so, and although there have been some cold days, there have been plenty of mild ones as well.
These are the last days of real winter quiet here. A few summer people will no doubt arrive on the island at Easter, and even if they don’t stay beyond the weekend we’ll notice the temporary uptick in traffic, and lights and activity in houses that have been quiet all winter. It’s a sign of things to come. Some early birds will arrive in April and May, but the big surge of summer people comes right after Memorial Day. It’s always fun to see the island start to come alive again.
How do we spend the winter out here? It’s a question I’m often asked. Once in a while there’s a house party–including our open house at Christmas–or a social event at the island’s little white church, or a trip off the island for dinner and a movie. But it helps to have a project to carry one through from January through March. Not a problem for me since I work on the top floor of our old Victorian house and watch the island’s comings and goings through a window overlooking the water. As I’ve written before, it’s not a life for everyone, but after a busy summer, I appreciate the peace and solitude. And now, after a long, quiet winter, I’m looking forward to seeing old friends from the summer colony and watching the island buzz with activity.