Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Thick fog this morning should have insured that no one would visit. I had intended to mow but the grass was still too wet. We managed to have breakfast at the picnic table but it was hot and humid and still. For an island off the coast of Maine, it’s not usual. Oliver watched us the whole time from a rock close to the picnic table. I said to France that if I told her who was right behind her drinking rainwater out of a depression in the rock, would she never feed him again, and she said yes if I would never tell another visitor that the gull chicks had hatched and were stuck around the nest from 50 to 60 days until they figured out how to fly and had the feathers to do it, and would follow you anywhere (but failed to mention that they could adopt you as Mom and follow you down the trail because they’ve not learned how to fear anything yet and if they think you might have food, so please don’t come between them and the mom or dad).
It was a deal. Oh well. There are lots of gulls. They’re certainly not endangered. And Sarah, aka Batwoman, said that there were even certain efforts to eradicate the Great Black Backed Gull from areas where they were decimating other populations of birds who couldn’t defend themselves.
I don’t mean it. They’ve been here a lot longer than we have. They live to be 20 years old!
France looked back and saw Oliver on the rock just a few feet away. Previous caretakers must have fed this guy. Cyndy, three years ago, called him George. We appreciated him, finished our breakfast and went back inside. He moved closer as we noted from the window, and then he wasn’t there. Right before that, before we left the table, we decided to take the day off. The creamed corn cakes I’d made for breakfast didn’t sit as well as the usual fare of cereal and berries and bananas. It was still to wet to cut the grass and if the fog didn’t let up, it wouldn’t dry out. The grass under my bare feet under the picnic table was cool and green but all around was thick clover with bumblebees on each bud; the whole lawn was simply teeming with activity. Thousands of bees drink from the clover I don’t mow. I’ve just eaten. Why shouldn’t they eat too? The bees are definitely here. We were both slowed by the dew point having matched the temperature, or whatever it is that causes you to feel as though you’re moving in liquid.
I organized a few things, saw the day ahead of me paying bills, writing a few post cards, maybe reading a chapter or two in that Italian murder mystery Lenny lent me, making a transfer on line and finding out why my rent check hadn’t been received and why the rental car agency billed my credit card for 5 days instead of 27 hours. That, besides catching up on e-mail and just writing, were on my mind; just writing, and trying to come up with a few evaluations and conclusions about some things I’d been tossing around in my mind.
Then Captain DeBery surprised us with a huge group of visitors who trickled up just after the fellow with the three little girls reappeared solo, his daughters and their friend as usual, unaccounted for. Little girls grow up so fast. These three were young but seemed so mature and beautiful. I can’t even call them cute. They were like silent waifs who flitted about and reappeared with handfuls of raspberries they’d devour so delicately while you looked away. I was sure this was a divorced dad who had taken his daughters and their friend on a sail with his vacation allotment from the settlement. Their boat was the Ambrosia.
Hi Connie and Friends,
The Bat People came today and set up their equipment on the catwalk facing south outside the rail, at the base of the ladder that goes up to the high catwalk. I’ll send photos soon or post them on the blog. The two who came are:
Geoff Young, Project Technician, Wind Power
Their boss is Trevor Peterson of Stantec Consulting in Topsham.
We were expecting them on Thursday. They came with a lot of people Ethan brought out at 11 and returned at 1:30. There were no people booked with him this afternoon. A fellow and three young girls spent the night in the cove on their sailboat. They came up last night and this morning but saw only fog both times. He said a huge fishing trawler spent the night tied to the other Coast Guard buoy. They didn’t come ashore. One of the girls came up this morning with a handful of raspberries she’d picked and made fast work of eating them one by one while sitting on the bench on the porch of the museum. They browsed the museum at length.
I’ve heard we could be in for a storm later today into tomorrow morning. We’re tempted to bring our things down now and store them in the Donkey House overnight so we don’t run the tram in the rain. There is a bird living in there, I think. It might have flown in yesterday when we were doing the work with the Powers, but I think I saw a nest in the rafters, so it might just have taken up residence. I tried to get it out with a buoy on a long stick but it wouldn’t come down. It just flew from one end to the other to avoid me. I’m just going to let it be. Perhaps it will find its way out the way it came in.
See you tomorrow, weather permitting.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Yesterday I didn’t think Ethan would come for us. It was foggy and raining really hard but the waves crashing in on the Cobblestone Beach from the east were fierce. I texted him at 6AM. Yup, he was coming. Then, could we make it an hour later because his fishing charter was delayed or not happening. Sure. France and I were a little apprehensive because we hadn’t operated the tram since it had been fixed. I’m always so anxious and I loaded the car in the rain, ready to go. France had gone back to bed thinking why load the tram if we may not be going. We were going and as we arrived at the bottom of the hill with the stuff intact, Ethan texted to say he’d come at 8:30. The rain was letting up and I just wanted to get loaded and out. I sat for a long time in the dingy at a buoy with the first load while France waited in the sand at low tide with the rest of the stuff. The garbage bag we hadn’t brought out for more than two weeks smelled pretty bad, and I could see my little raft being attacked by a flock of gulls. Actually, I thought they might pull the bag apart while it crept down the tram. Finally Ethan appeared in the mist being tossed about like a can of tuna. Wow, it’s rough out there.
There’s a story in one of the histories of a boy in a small boat with his dad, who was caretaker. He is reminiscing for the Seguin 200th Anniversary publication and recalls that his dad knew the waters off Seguin better than anyone. Still, once leaving the cove, a rogue wave caught them out of nowhere and turned the boat over bow to stern knocking him unconscious. The dad managed to drag the son on top of the overturned boat and thump him long enough to force the water out of his lungs and bring him to. Were we in for that kind of a trip?
Today, the forecast was for a lovely day but the fog didn’t seem to want to burn off. Then as it cleared, Ethan arrived with close to twenty people and Camp Small Point out of Phippsburg came in five boats with close to forty kids and councilors. Surprise! It was a fun day and the kids were great. Except Ben and John, two of the councilors, wanted me to speak to the kids once they’d gathered them all around, about Seguin, but mostly about the ghosts. I know not do discourage this but I don’t think I should have told the one gruesome story that occurred in the mid 19th century. It seems a couple, who were caretakers, spent too much time together and she liked to play the piano. The problem was she played the same tune over and over again and finally he got fed up and took a hatchet to her, the piano and himself, and some folks say they can hear the tune from time to time. Well, I want to know what the tune is and when they lived on Seguin. If it was in this house, in what room did this occur?
When these kids came up to the top of the Light, most of them just wanted to throw stuff down to their friends; nothing that would have hurt anyone, which was clearly not their intent. Just paper and light rubber water shoes and not much else really. France had brought up the toy airplane previously; the one made of balsa wood that I’d bought at the general store in Popham, because it reminded me of the same toy I used to play with with my cousins in Michigan, and that she liked so she bought one too (hers had the cockpit, which on mine was mysteriously missing) and I think these kids wanted to follow suit somehow. Or else maybe it was just fun. I discouraged it. And, I was able to snag a few tower climbers, before I opened the door to the catwalk and had them take turns one at a time to step up, only two steps, to where the rope says, “only authorized personnel beyond this point” so that they can peer up into the 1st order Fresnel lens and see the single 1000 watt bulb that, because of the way its light is refracted through the lenses, sends a beam out thirty miles, and could be seen farther, but for the curvature of the earth. It always wows anyone, but especially kids. I love to see the looks on their faces. When you know you have their undivided attention you say you’re sorry but you can’t let them go any farther on that stair, but you can show them out onto the catwalk, which you do by opening a set of two doors you have to duck, to pass through. There’s an airlock between them. That’s the next wow. Stuff like that that I’d seen when I was a kid, I still remember, and I’m sure it will be the same for a lot of these kids.
Captain DeBery had taken additional passengers fishing while the Seguin contingent toured the island and radioed that his assistant Drew had cleaned some mackerel for us if I’d come down to the cove. Dinner! I was there in a flash and had never seen the cove teeming with so many people, most of them kids in the water vying for a spot in some sort of craft that would take them to shore. High tide made it especially challenging but no one seemed to be troubled or anxious in any way. I think everyone was having a great time and one woman said she’d been on the island before and the caretakers at that time weren’t very kid friendly. She was happy that France and I were more welcoming. How could you not be; they were really great kids and I think they had a day they won’t forget.
Once they’d left, I knew what I had to do. I wacked the sit down mower good on something (was there a rock there?) and bent the housing for the blade, causing it to scrape against it. Was that going to fly off and take off a toe or two? Luckily I was almost finished and would worry about bending it back in shape another day or perhaps finding a replacement. (Oh right, and there was water ankle deep in the basement yesterday when I went down for the water sample from the filtration system I had to bring to Fred who would drive to Augusta. A call to Dave told me where the drain was that I had to one day clear from lead paint off the brick walls that dripped off and clogged it.) I still had to get out with the push mower. More people came, some with children, while I mowed, but I just waved and made sure France was aware that they had arrived. I’m sure it must be annoying to visit such a paradise and hear the whine of a mower but I had to finish. There was no choice; you have to do it when it’s dry and that doesn’t happen very often. Usually I mow up top and down by the cove on the same day. How did I ever do that? When I’d finally finished, I was covered with grass and ready for a dip. France didn’t want to go because it was late and there would be no sun in the cove. When I got to the shore, there was still a boat there so I wasn’t sure what to do. I couldn’t remember what underwear I had on and whether it would suffice for a bathing suit. By the time I finished talking with Chris on my cell to catch up (we hadn’t spoken since he left with Amy and Dee and I was afraid they’d left the island with some regret for having stayed a week) the last boat of visitors were untying from a buoy and motoring out of the cove. I’d be able to take everything off for the dip. I was covered with grass. Chris had meant to call but was really busy. I needn’t have worried: they had a great time and couldn’t believe it was almost a week since they’d left. Had France finished clearing the South Trail? Yes, but now we needed to go back on the North one. How long since I whacked the Cobblestone Beach trail? Does anyone still find the Cove Trail?
I couldn’t even stand to put back on any of the cloths I’d been wearing. They were covered in grass and drenched in sweat. So I just carried them up and hung them on the line out back, went upstairs and showered and came down just as Ethan was radioing France to say he had 25 people in the cove to send up. It was after 6. We knew he was kidding. Thanks for the mackerel buddy. Dinner waits.