POST PANDEMIC RETURN

 May 30, 2021

We went out a day later than scheduled and came back two days early, all because of rough seas, but still managed to have yet another five days in paradise.  There was a lot of work to be done and we did accomplish a great deal, but once ashore, I realized that I never even made it up to the top of the tower or saw the work Rick had put in to clean the inside and dust up the lens.  Friday when we got the call midday that we’d be picked up soon, we mobilized and packed; but we never got to try the pork roast I had gotten started in the slow cooker in the morning.  I’m glad we attacked some baking at the same time and managed a blueberry buckle and chocolate chip cookies.  And then there was a sudden flood in the kitchen…

Cyndy and I were privileged to be with the new caretakers Jan and Rick, and to pass along what we could of what they could expect this summer and what was expected of them.  They proved to be capable and up to the challenge and due to embrace the kind of life changing experience many of us have after putting in a summer on Seguin Island.  They will see the season evolve, the gulls and geese lay eggs and train their young and leave in the fall, the flowering blackberries turn into fruit, the grass growing ever stronger and in need of mowing, and the warm kinship with visitors who come from all over the world in all different circumstances to share in the glory of this very special place.

There was a day when we were just in tee shirts in the bright sun and clear skies basking in warmth and fresh clean air but most of the days were cold and windy as you would expect in late May in Maine.  Toward the end of our visit, a terrific storm swept in that blew the bench off the perch where we watch the sunset in the evenings and I’ve only seen that happen once before in the eleven years I’ve been volunteering on the island.  But we desperately needed the rain.  We ran the well dry soon after we started pumping water into the cistern and had to wait for water to be replenished before we could begin the process anew.  By the time we left, it was 80% filled.  Rick Mayo, back ashore, had been monitoring our usage of the solar energy that was stored and it was quite a lot.  After all, the house is not insulated and baking in the oven only does so much to warm the kitchen.  There are a couple of small space heaters we took advantage of.  It all added up to a bit of a drain but nothing serious.  Regardless, Rick thought it was a good idea to crank up the generator just to augment the energy stored and it was a good practice for Caretaker Rick to see how that’s done.

From day one we began to mow and to tame the tall grass that had grown up over the spring.  It’s beautiful to see it waving in the wind but also beautiful to walk across barefoot when it’s lush and nicely mowed.  This process was repeated on days two and three as well because this time of year, you can almost watch it grow.  As the cut grass didn’t all blow away in the wind as is always hoped, there was some raking to be done.

Jan and Rick are a very special couple; you have to be in order to spend the summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day volunteering on an island away from home, adding to the legacy of volunteer caretakers through the Friends of Seguin Island Light Station who have maintained the island for 25 years and protected it from arson, vandalism and the simple ware that comes with the harsh conditions born by the sun, the wind and the intense winters.  I look forward to seeing what Jan posts on her blog, and Rick, with his background in mechanics, seems to be a real problem solver and someone who can rise to any challenge and accomplish much. Their beautiful white Labradoodle Lilly will have mythical memories of the freedom and adventure her stay on Seguin will provide.

All in all, in five short days, we did manage to cut a lot of grass, clean the Clivus (the only public facility down in the cove), and clean the tower and the lens (thanks to Rick).  Of course the house and guest quarters were vacuumed and swept and the gift shop was set up with new merchandise (thanks to Jan). All of the gates and plywood pieces that cover the windows during the winter were taken down and screen doors replaced on the gift shop and oil house.  (We’re still waiting for the replacement kitchen screen door that blew out when the Coast Guard landed a little too close to the house last year.  We know that it’s down in South Portland; it just needs the transport to the island, either by air or by sea, they have promised.)  We did manage to find time to enjoy meals together and play a number of good card games and share memories and get to know each other.

Back to the flood:  it seems that the drain in the kitchen sink had clogged but because of a vent pipe which coincidentally hung above a deep rectangular plastic dish bin under the sink, we didn’t realize it until over time the bin had filled and overflowed.  After mopping and pulling out everything that was stored under there, including in the bin, and after diligent investigation and several attempts to find a fix, it was determined that a snake was needed to solve the problem.  Until Wednesday, when the Warriors arrive and Jan and Rick can come to shore to do some laundry and pick up some provisions, they’ll have to keep filling up the bin and emptying it out with ordinary use of the sink doing dishes.  We felt bad having to leave in the middle of all of that, and just after the first 15 visitors had arrived from Seguinland Institute to tour the island, but what we felt regret over the most was having to miss the evening meal of the pot roast we were smelling all day.

Captain Ethan was right on time and in spite of the rough seas due to the wind from the southwest; the cove on the north end was calm and rowing out and loading our provisions was very easy going.  But I was sorry to say goodbye to Jan and Rick and to leave yet again the paradise that is Seguin.

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