Saturday, June 1, 2019 Day One We set the alarm for 5:30am in order to arrive at Popham Beach at 7am ahead of a 7:30 launch to Seguin Island. Thanks to a cadre of dedicated volunteers, Captain Ethan, John, and Cyndy, we loaded and rode out to the island under mostly clear skies and on smooth seas, accompanied by sleek seals fishing and diving nearby. Following unloading, the volunteers went to work unscreening windows, making caretaker quarters’ roof and other repairs, and cutting grass while Chris and I got the lay of the island and learned how to operate the well and cistern as well as the generators. We took some time to clean and organize the kitchen and our bedroom, already recognizing that good eating and sleeping will serve us well. Fog rolled in about 2pm, and as we bid the volunteers adieu – and I collected our first sea glass with Cyndy’s guidance – we welcomed our first unannounced visitors: two couples on a return visit accompanied by their dog; an unexpected opportunity for Chris and me to learn how hosting happens on Seguin Island. I saw an entirely yellow robin-sized bird flitting about in and around the low bayberry? bushes outside the keeper’s quarters but could not ID it from a bird book or Cornell’s Merlin ID – perhaps a female scarlet tanager, does any reader know? – ahead of a generator-provided hot shower for Cyndy followed by a propane-grilled salmon, altereively used-for-optimal-generator-use stovetop-steamed fresh fiddlehead ferns and microwaved rice dinner for three – thank you, Cyndy! Then, thanks to fully batteried lanterns, we all headed upstairs to bed, the warmest spot in the house!
Sunday, June 2, 2019 Day Two Chris added five gallons of fuel and started the generator at 7am. That allowed me to do last night’s dinner dishes with the well and hot water heater operating. After a morning snack of hot tea and oh my darling clementines, Chris left the caretaker quarters, shut down the generator, and headed to the Clivus, the solar-powered composing toilet by the donkey engine shed, to empty the contents of our camping toilet there where they can be composted. Cyndy and I raised the flag and then headed down the hill to meet up with Chris. From there, we walked the Cove Trail, and through the campground where we stopped to upright the picnic table. We continued down the Cove Trail with Cyndy pointing out what can be mowed and what can be weed-whacked until we reached the cove where we saw and heard the surf…in addition to a lot of fishing and plastic debris, much of which Cyndy said was from winter storms. She also discovered a washed-up gaff which I quickly appropriated as my personal walking stick! We flushed an Eider duck from her under brush nest where we saw a single brown egg with black spots, quickly moving on so mama could return to brood her egg. We walked by a seagull rookery unmolested – too early in the nesting season to be dive-bombed? – and returned via the Cobblestone Trail where I saw a skeleton of a seagull head and beak. We set up directional signage by the donkey engine shed, and primed the Clivus for future use before returning to quarters for a bite of lunch. After lunch, Chris returned outside to continue raking up yesterday’s mowing clippings in the fog-turned-to-rain while Cyndy and I hung curtains in doorways to help hold the heat…when the generator, hence space heaters are operating. We all joined in to finish up the raking and then walked the South Trail – such beautiful views! – after which I took a short break to enjoy the view from a sunset bench, even though the sky remained fog-shrouded and we were hours from sunset. Then on to the gift shop for a price and operating tutorial plus a preliminary review of all of the museum information there. We’ll have to set aside some time for a self-familiarization tour of the exhibits! Chris fired the generator back up at 5 pm which enabled me to do our lunch dishes, Cyndy to heat water for hot tea in a roasting pan on the grill before steaming asparagus and grilling haddock, and Chris to prepare smashed potatoes and onions for dinner while I prepared a veggie broth from our collected trimmings. It will be a delicious base for some future warming dinners! Chris and Cyndy hastened me from the dinner table for a quick hot shower while the generator was still running, and lowered the flag after which Chris followed shower suit before shutting off the generator which seems to be using a gallon of gas per hour of operation. The original two hours of use plus Saturday’s seven to eight hours’ of operation plus today’s five hour total means it’s nearing its 20 hour oil change! Afterwards, we gathered back around the dinner table with lanterns, and enjoyed some chocolate and dried fruit while reviewing the day’s events and intentions for the morrow. Correction: Albeit short-lived, the shower has usurped the bed’s standing as the warmest place in the house!
Monday, June 3, 2019 Day Three Despite rising early again today, Chris and I decided to hold off starting up the generator for maximum use until we were all up and about for the day. Besides, that accommodates my catch-up journaling from the second warmest spot in the house! After raising the flag, Chris found what he thought may be seal tracks in the sand at the cove. Cyndy and I watched the fog quickly disappear to the east, thanks to strong westerly winds, resulting in a bright, sunny day. A few heart palpitations when Chris returned to check the generator operating hours for the previously mentioned oil change and discovered a red hot exhaust pipe and nearby tire starting to melt. He of course shut it down immediately, let Cyndy and me know, and we convened at the Whistle House to read the instruction manual in an attempt to diagnose the problem. Never definitively identified, even after talking to the sales rep who talked to the factory, we started it up again and it ran fine for the next two hours, our morning allotment, whew! Then down the hill for mowing, weed whacking and donkey engine shed clean-up. A late lunch and then Cyndy resumed mowing in the campground and along trails while Chris and I ran the new-to-us Gravely zero-turn mower and hand mower to mow around the main house, museum and tower. Though a mere two days since last mowed, we still left thick windrows of clippings. Suburbanites covetous of thick green lawns might be jealous of the SI “lawn,” grown entirely naturally! A windy sojourn on the sunset bench followed, where we witnessed the increasing wave action and whitecaps; an effective invitation to head back inside to move out of the wind but not away from its sound! No problems with this evening’s generator start-up – hurrah! – and so we started dinner preps with no power interruptions. Another lesson in gratitude and not taking anything for granted!
Tuesday, June 4, 2019 Day Four Another sunny day, this one clear and fog-free as of awakening. Cold brew coffee is not doing the job for Chris and so he unpacked his camp stove in order to have hot coffee more on demand than generator ops allow. Chris started raking post-coffee and his breakfast and then worked on getting the weather station operational with Cyndy while the generator was running. She and I had a late breakfast and then after shutting off the generator, the three of us headed out on the North Trail up to the Loop Trail where we turned back. The North Trail undulates up and down, in and out of thickets to panoramic vistas, beautiful! Chris saw a seagull’s nest with one egg from a vista on the return trip. After a light lunch, Chris headed out to weed-whack the North Trail, while Cyndy and I walked the tramway catwalk to ID areas in need of repair – spray-painted orange Xs mark the two spots – and spent some time sea glass hunting on the beach before taking a look-see into the boat house. We returned to the top of the hill and locating Chris past the farmer’s wall, encouraged him to call it a day. We planned the night’s dinner – a veggie frittata with a side of mung beans and carrots – and cooking location for optimal energy use. Cyndy and I sous-chefed all of the ingredients while Chris took the first shower. I followed Chris while he prepared the meal, which was so good, all of us had two helpings! I did dishes, then Cyndy showered, and then Chris shut-off the generator. I am typing this by lantern-light, delighted to discover that we have a wi-fi connection via my mi-fi, which will result in timely 2019 blog submissions! Based on the forecast for rain on Wednesday and Thursday, Cyndy, Chris and I decided to go off-island on Friday rather than the usual Wednesday, and appreciate the Wednesday Warriors accommodating the change.
Wednesday, June 5, 2019 Day Five Another early and this time rainy start to the day, with Chris heading downstairs for camp stove-prepared coffee and breakfast first thing, followed by a walk outside; a ritual which accommodates his need for some solo quiet time. I have a similar need, which I fulfill by meditating and/or reading upstairs while still warm in bed. So we started the generator later than usual, after it had stopped raining, which accommodated our plan to power-wash the Clivus. First we checked the cistern in the basement and saw that it was entirely full, despite sequential showers, thanks to our running the well pump while the generator is operational. Cyndy and Chris checked the downhill spigot valve – too high for me to reach – also in the basement, and once it was determined operational, we all headed down to the Clivus. When we discovered that there wasn’t sufficient residual pressure for the water to flow, Chris went back up to the Whistle House to start the generator, hence the well pump. Still no water. So while Cyndy stayed to watch for water at the spigot under the tramway across from the Clivus, Chris and I walked from the connection outside of the main house, and followed the hose down the hlll and onto the tramway catwalk to see if we could ID a leak. Bingo between tramway “bents” #28 and #29 where we heard water running…in a patch of poison ivy, of course! I went down to the donkey engine shed to retrieve the gaff which we used to pull up the water line from the ground below, discovering the culprit, an uncoupled joint! Chris went back up the hill to the Whistle House and retrieved the hose clamp socket which he used to reconnect the coupling while Cyndy and I held the hoses aloft. we split up from there, with Chris heading back up to restart the generator, Cyndy back down to the tramway spigot to check for water, and me staying at the repair site to watch for leaks. Still no water, this time because the cistern had been entirely drained by the leak! So we started the generator back up to start refilling the cistern, and opted to clean the Clivus by hand. While there we saw a motorboat with dinghy moor in the cove, and enjoyed two adult Canadian geese, gently guiding their five goslings around the water’s edge of the cove. Then we all went back up the hill for a bite of lunch, during which time we welcomed two couples from the boat; two sisters and their respective husbands, from Boston and Toronto; the Bostonians on a return visit to share their prior experiences on Seguin Island, which they called “…a magical place.” They went out on a hike so we could finish lunch, and then returned to the museum and for a tour of the tower(lighthouse), promising to return with other family members throughout the summer. Chris was eager to return to North Trail weed-whacking and, while he was out, Cyndy took care of some FOSIL’s business while I finished unloading our food tubs. Absent any radio communications the next two hours, I went out on the North Trail and discovered Chris on his way back, having stopped just short of completing the trail. At the same time, Cyndy staged empty fuel and water containers down in the donkey engine shed in preparation for them to go off-island on Friday. We are expecting a full day of rain tomorrow, so intending to work inside most of the day, to include receiving Fresnel lens cleaning instructions. Until then, winding down into dinner & then bed.
Thursday, June 6, 2019 Day Six The wet rainy morning blossomed into a warm sunny day, belying the forecasted all day rain. With the generator running, Chris prepared a passel of sourdough blueberry pancakes we gobbled up with Greek yogurt and maple syrup…until there were none. Still mobile following that feast, we headed over to clean the tower and Fresnel lens, regal and magnificent even absent its intended illumination. From there, we went to the museum where we cleaned the displays and swept the floor ahead of anticipated visitors from Brunswick Jr. High on Friday. We had a bite of lunch and from there, Cyndy headed down the hill to weed-whack the Cobblestone Trail while Chris and I went to the whistle house to collect the Gravely, a push mower and weed-whacker to re-mow around the main house/museum, tower and the oil house, just in time for anticipated weekend volunteers who will be residing in the oil house while repairing the whistle house roof. Cowbirds and young (small) Monarch butterflies flitted around our mowing while ubiquitous but varied seagulls inspected our efforts as they soared by on the wind currents. Again, the entirely naturally nourished grass grows impressively fast here as this was the third mowing of this area in a week’s time, and there were still clippings galore…but no raking this time! With the cistern entirely refilled, we started up the generator to create water pressure in order to check the water flow from the cistern down to the spigot close to the base of the tramway. Success! Chris’ Wednesday recoupling held with no leaks and the water pressure was as expected! Thanks to wet springs (and no leaks) bringing full cisterns, we showered successively while making preparations for dinner, mostly leftovers and still delicious.. For dessert, Chris and I introduced Cyndy to the joys of nice cream, but the piece du resistance was a gorgeous sunset – our first since arriving on the island. As the sun set, gold-hued pinks and mauves outlined Mt. Washington and the Presidential Mountains, 76 miles to the west as the new moon rose overhead. With plans to go off-island tomorrow, we headed to bed for an especially early rising in order to timely greet Friday Friends, aka Wednesday Warriors, who will arrive at the cove at 7:30am.
Friday, June 7, 2019 Day Seven Shore leave today, our first! Captain Ethan and First Mate Brook arrived with Friday Friends at the cove at 7am. Chris rowed the two of us and our daytrip belongings out to meet them at the Grasshopper, and then we headed back to the mainland after FF and their day’s supplies had rowed back to the cove. I sat where I could watch the depth finder run up and down a scale of numbers ranging from 25’ to more than 60’; the highest number where the Kennebec River roiled into the sea. We were ashore – by ladder because the tide was out – and on the road in our vehicle by 7:30am with a list of errands to run, but without knowing the most efficient routing to accomplish our intentions, to enjoy the outing and to be ready to return to the island by 3:30pm. We headed to Brunswick for some specific destinations and ran across a laundromat there, so started our load and then walked into town from there. We ended up being away more than twice as long as necessary, but enjoyed running across a farmer’s market and exploring some local stores on our way out and back. We returned to Bath, ran our errands there, and stopped in Southland Park for a late lunch, happy that we had packed our lunch! Perhaps we’ll make time for a restaurant stop on another off-island day, as we do want to put some playtime into that day! We off-loaded our belongings at the Ft. Popham dock, parked our vehicle, and walked back to be picked up by Ethan and Brook – no ladder this time! We spied some seals on our swelled return, rowed ashore during high tide – a new learning experience for us, and bade Cyndy and the FF adieu until Wednesday weather-permitting. We hung our laundry, and transplanted the kale starts we’d purchased at the Brunswick farmer’s market, ending up with a garden after all, eh Cyndy? An easy dinner of leftovers, another gorgeous sunset, and bed, ahead of our first solo day on Seguin Island.
Saturday, June 8, 2019 Day Eight: World Oceans Day! Our first solo day on the island, though we are expecting volunteers late this afternoon ahead of a special whistle house roof workday tomorrow; also visitors because it’s a sunny, warm weekend day, a perfect day to be outside! An unknown-to-us bird has taken up residence in the wood duck house adjacent to the flagpole. We’ve watched its scouting efforts the past couple of days and are pleased that this previously vacant abode has passed muster and is now occupado. After raising the flag, we removed our clothes from the line, grateful that our no-fog-or-dampness overnight assumption had come to pass, making our clothes dry, air-fragrant, and ready to come inside. While putting the clothespins away, I discovered a small bag containing packages of unsown seeds, so Chris and I selected and planted yellow and green zucchini squash, filling up the rest of the garden space. Then we raked up the clippings from Thursday’s Gravely mowing and used them for mulch around the plants in hopes of minimizing weeding. We were about to head down the hill to mow and weed-whack when a couple from Bangor arrived with their Irish setter. We gave them a tour of the tower and they made a donation, thank you! As soon as they left, we headed down the trail with me feeling that I was about to have my first island snake encounter en route, even with Chris walking ahead of me. The fact is, I am mightily afeared of snakes, have been all my life, although I can now accidentally look at a picture of a snake and not embarrass myself in mixed company. Despite logic – I know they’re here for a reason and serve a purpose…besides frightening me, and my compensatory largesse – live and let live attitude…even when I’ve had a chance to run over them, they still scare me, as did the one Chris pointed out on our way down the trail. On the other hand, Seguin Island’s snakes are behind one of my goals for this summer: to be able to see a real snake and not embarrass myself in mixed company. Time will tell. After a hour of mowing, and watching what would be our next visitors moor in the cove, Chris and I returned to the main house for a bite of lunch before returning to finish in one afternoon, all of the down-the-hill mowing and weed-whacking including the balance of the South Trail which Cyndy had started before leaving the island late Friday afternoon. Chris stepped away to give the father and son moored in the cove a tour of the tower and we got to see them again when they walked the Cobblestone and Cove Trails. I revisited the large vein of granite I’d seen on our first Cove Trail walk with Cyndy before Chris and I watched a pair of osprey from the steps down to the cove; a nice “ahhh” moment after completing our work. Chris greeted volunteers Dave, Nate and John, “the volunteers,” – at the cove about an hour later, while I made yesterday and today’s journal entries. A typical-for-us veggie dinner, including store-bought kale until the garden comes in, after seeing a cruise ship Dave told us was out of Portland and headed to Bath. We enjoyed another beautiful sunset, photo-documented by Nate. This one seemed to linger, in time and appearance: a low-hanging swath of orange and pink straddling the entire western sky while outlining Mt. Washington and its cohorts. More bird research followed before bidding the volunteers good night.
Sunday, June 9, 2019 Day Nine We started the day with a smaller passel of baking soda pancakes with sunflower seeds, plus our usual Greek yogurt and maple syrup fixins’. Yum! Then it was time for my morning walk to the Clivus. Many years ago, I read that prey animals, like we humans, learn via punishment and reward. It seems the snakes here – my “punishment” – are accommodating my intentions to become less afraid as we crossed paths on the walk down. Not only was my reaction publically admissible – I kept my pancakes down! – but I found a handful of multi-hued pieces of sea glass at the cove afterwards – my “reward!” Now all I have to do is time my trips with the tides so I can search for sea glass every time I make the trip down the hill, and back, snakes or no snakes! As Chris and I seek our daily rhythm on the island, we are learning that our intentions for the day may or may not go as planned. Such was the case today. Chris wanted to complete the South Trail weed-whacking and I had some domestic chores in mind, then we were going to walk/enjoy a couple of the trails on the island on this gorgeous, warm-despite-the-wind sunny day. While we ultimately accomplished all but the trail walking, plus saw a bonus seaplane buzz by, there was no absence of walking. The hard-working volunteers, who’d come to strip the old shingles from the whistle house ahead of re-shingling another weekend, discovered that the roof is in need of decking repair before re-shingling, so this new information resulted in a flurry of unplanned activities. On the mainland. Cyndy collected tarps, strapping, and lathing which Captain Ethan and family brought out to the island. Chris made multiple trips in the dinghy to bring the materials, plus Ethan and family safely ashore. Then the volunteers and Chris portered those items from the cove to the whistle house. Chris and I briefly visited with Ethan and family and sat down to lunch just before it was time for them to go, giving Chris more dinghy experience. We’ve both rowed before, but only on inland waters and with a dock to greet us, so we’re in a bit learning curve here. With lunch necessarily interrupted, I started to cover it up for later, once Chris was back up the hill, when two visitors from Boston and NH knocked to see the museum and tower. After the tower tour, I identified the various trails and they walked off to explore. Chris finished up weed-whacking after lunch and then headed to the whistle house to help the volunteers. While waiting for their (supply) ship to come in, they’d packed up all the removed shingles and associated debris in seven helicopter bags which will be collected when the helicopter brings out the replacement shingles. So the volunteers and Chris spent the remainder of the afternoon, well past their intended 3pm departure time, tarping the whistle house roof against rain damage until the decking and shingles can be replaced. I delivered messages from Cyndy and photo-documented their progress. The volunteers left the island around 7pm, with adjusted mission accomplished! Tonight’s sunset was ribbons of blue-gray clouds against a pink background, somewhat obscuring the outline of Mt. Washington.
Monday, June 10, 2019 Day Ten Chris is my hero! Late yesterday when I sat down to journal after drafting a “cheat sheet” for friends and family who will be coming out to visit, I discovered this document had gone awol from its appointed place of honor on my laptop. I looked everywhere I knew to look, to no avail and to my great dismay. Too late to look further, I asked Chris for his professional IT assistance this morning and la voila, he found it! Our morning trip to the Clivus was snakeless, and with the tide rising, no sea glass searching, but we got a good look at the intermittently occupied osprey nest. We also decided that we need to bring the monocular or binoculars with us on all outings, just to be prepared for unexpected sightings! Upon our return, we started the generator and Chris made us oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins for breakfast. After IDing our new wood duck house resident as a tree swallow, he headed upstairs for a shave, and has specifically requested that I mention his appreciations for the old-fashioned sink with a working stopper attached to a dog-tag chain. We generally try to be aware of all the things for which we are grateful, but I think that living with limited electricity and running water, basic amenities in a developed country, our gratitude for these small conveniences has elevated. Then we headed out with the weed-whacker and pruning shears to complete our first South Trail clean-up which Cyndy started. A bite of lunch and then we were back out mowing around the main house, museum and tower, this time taking turns with the Gravely and the push mower. We were about to call it a day when I checked my email and saw Cyndy’s request that we cover the helicopter bags full of whistle house roof debris against tomorrow’s forecasted rain. After that, we did call it a day, started the generator in order to fix dinner and do dishes; maybe even a shower!
Tuesday, June 11, 2019 Day Eleven As expected, we awoke to rain and wind this morning, with plans to spend that part of the day inside R & Ring; running through our list of inside things-to-do, and non-instructional reading, a beloved activity we haven’t done since arriving on the island eleven days ago. What we didn’t expect was the wind sounds – how to we describe them without sounding overwrought? – and the views from inside. It’s hard to claim that the southeasterly winds – is there such things as a sou’easter? – even at 20 mph, sounded like sopranos, the furies, shrieking, or howling, but those were the words that came to mind as as they careened around the main house. Once again, we were grateful for small comforts, like being inside an abode that has weathered much much worse over the years. As for the views, we found ourselves surrounding by the encroaching fog, moving in from where the green of the island gives way the to the gray of the sea, which we can no longer clearly see, even when outside. Why outside, you ask? To use the Clivus; to check on the whistle house roof and helicopter bag tarps, all entirely secure; and to start the generator to briefly enjoy the amenities that come with electricity: refrigerator, stove, and recharged phones! Chris hung the Caretaker’s Wall of Fame plaque in the museum, and then I reviewed gift shop procedures with him before we broke for lunch. The rain has stopped, but the fog has breached the island’s edges, rolling up to limit visibility to just beyond the perimeter of the main house, museum, and tower. Our nascent garden seems to have enjoyed its first rainfall, sheltered from the winds by a predecessor who had the foresight to set the garden below the surface, and further protect it by surrounding it with rocks, like an over-sized fire ring. The green-when-we-bought-and-planted-it kale has turned purple since Friday’s planting. Squash sprouts are still pending. Chris headed back out to finished cleaning the nether regions of the hand mower in the whistle house and, after reading the manual, tried again to get the weather station fully operational, again to no avail. Skies cleared around 4pm, revealing sunny skies and wind-driven whitecaps. There were no signs of the storm on land save for the tall, intentionally uncut grasses laid low in deference to the wind and rain. About the same time, Captain Ethan text-confirmed that we would be going ashore tomorrow. Coincidence? I think not. The weather, and what does and doesn’t happen because of it, seems to set the stage for everything and everyone, even those who don’t make their living by the sea. We have much to learn from this truly immersive, weather-driven experience. On a lighter note, five minutes outside in 10mph winds is a much more efficient hair dryer than an 1800 watt handheld version, and no salon can achieve that truly windblown effect!
Wednesday, June 12, 2019 Day Twelve All ashore who’s going ashore! That would be us on our second shore leave to date. We were at the cove and ready to go well before the appointed pickup hour of 7am. I successfully launched the dinghy and Chris rowed us out to Captain Ethan and the waiting Wednesday Warriors. Thanks to WW Kathleen for hemming heat-holding curtains for the keepers quarters, and Cyndy for the extra gallon water jugs! An exchange of goods and people, and we were headed to Ft. Popham on a gloriously beautiful day. Once ashore, we refilled our water container and then drove on to the Phippsburg Town Office to get a temporary transfer station – the town dump and recycling location for non-New England readers – permit, thanks to Cyndy, who no longer has to haul our trash from her house! From there we went directly to the transfer station where we deposited our recycling. Thanks to on-island composting and Phippsburg recycling, our local minimalist moniker will extend to our trash production! Our next stop was the Maine Maritime Museum. What an amazing place! In the time we allowed ourselves there, we only touched the surface of this impressive collection of local maritime history, but we will be back for more. Thanks, Paul! Hearing from the back of our vehicle, the muffled cries of dirty laundry unceremoniously stuffed into laundry bags, the laundromat in Bath was our next stop. After starting our load of wash and following the attendant’s advice, we headed to the Bath Patton Library park where we enjoyed our brought ashore picnic lunch before going inside and exploring the library, once again, taking more time than our laundry required. Thanks to Kathryn and Pam who assisted us there. After a trip to the hardware store for some new lawnmower wheels, followed by a quick grocery stop, we headed back to Ft. Popham for an early pick-up to accommodate everyone’s full schedule. This time, we rode back on Captain Ethan’s ferry, Leeward, a first for us. That allowed us to meet and greet the folks who had ridden out to explore the island earlier in the day. Once ashore, we toted our clean and now quiet laundry, and groceries, up the hill to the main house. I was pleased that after 12 days of regular hill climbing, I no longer had to stop midway for a break, despite carrying a small load. Physical progress! Chris remains the heavy lifter but I’m hoping to be able to do more as the summer progresses. We had a snack, hung out our laundry, and basked on a near by lichen covered, sun-warmed rock – like lizards, Chris proclaimed – before unpacking our day’s bags, my return to this journal, and Chris to his book. Then it was evening generator and dinner prep time, after bringing in our already dried laundry. Following a dinner of rice grits and yellow beans wrapped in warmed Napa cabbage leaves – it’s better than it sounds, really! – we went back outside to watch another beautiful sunset; once again, with Mt. Washington outlined in ribbons of pinks, mauve and soft oranges. What was especially noteworthy this evening, though, were the waves below us. Their size and movement was different than we had observed before. This time, they appeared individually distinct, petite, and collectively dense; as if they were engaged in a synchronized dance, momentarily pausing as they briefly reached their small merengue-like peaks, before collapsing and repeating the same movements. We were mesmerized by the sight; perhaps one of many ocean performances to be seen!
Thursday, June 13, 2019 Day Thirteen Fourteen five gallon cans of generator gas against the whistle house wall Fourteen five gallons cans of generator gas We bring the empties down to the donkey engine shed And the Wednesday Warriors bring them back full again! THANK YOU, WW! In our self-appointed efforts to find new ways to minimize generator use, hence the time and expense of FOSILs purchasing and transporting gas, Chris brought the CATGEN –a small, more portable generator than the one located by the whistle house – up to the main house this morning to run the refrigerator. That works well with camp-stove heated coffee and cold-by-choice breakfasts, even though we’ll continue to use the generator by the whistle house for cooking and running water. Speaking of which, we’ve decided to do dishes just once a day, in the evening, to reduce the need to use the well pump. That way, we’re just needing and using heated water once a day, as we take our water and power-conserving European showers – not daily – in the evenings as well. Chris shimmed the north stairs up to the museum – they wobble no more! – and then weed-whacked and raked the Lighthouse Trail this morning, ahead of rain that started at 11am and winds that shifted to NNE a few hours later. Then we cleaned the museum and guest quarters before stopping for lunch. After that, Chris, who is passionate about baking bread, commenced the baking experiment, Part II. Previously unreported Part I was his first on-island baking attempt with generator power last Tuesday. That resulted in a dozen delicious whole wheat muffins that almost passed his muster, hence remained unreported until now. Part II was his effort to make a yeasted bread, but the temperature didn’t accommodate one much less two risings, so we consulted a cookbook for a no yeast alternative and decided on cornbread in the cast iron cornbread, refrigerating the yeasted dough pending another first rising attempt when it warms up. While Chris did some work at the whistle house and in the donkey engine shed, I spent most of the afternoon arranging the new inventory Cyndy brought out yesterday to the museum gift shop while listening to the radio transmissions of fishermen out to sea. Chris started the well-sheltered-from-the-24mph-winds-by-the-whistle-house generator at 4:30pm, about thirty minutes earlier than usual, to bake the cornbread after which I baked about eight eggs – a great way to make easy-to-peel “hard boiled” eggs – in the already warm oven. With the oven off – we use one cooking feature at a time – Chris pressure-cooked a small pot of black beans which we enjoyed over the cornbread, topped by grated cheese, homemade salsa, and Greek yogurt, which we prefer to sour cream. At dinner and afterwards, we watched seagulls literally drop in – vertical landings – to walkabout and graze in the cut grass surrounding the main house, warranting a Google check of everything they eat. Not only are gulls omnivores, they can be cannibals too. No wonder they’re not well-regarded in some circles! Dishes washed and then a warming shower followed by some dark chocolate- purely medicinal, of course! – journaling, reading, and then, bed. The weather forecast is rainless for the next two days so we expect to be working outside Friday and Saturday.
Friday, June 14, 2019 Day Fourteen: Flag Day! Chris saw a male cardinal this morning. Notwithstanding the fact that it’s my home state bird, it is my very favorite non-raptor avian. I hope I get to see it sometime too. Once the generator was on this morning, Chris’ placed hi whole wheat yeasted bread dough in a slow oven to rise. Then, following Captain Ethan’s suggestion, he baked it on the propane grill with great results: good crumb and delicious too! Thanks, Ethan! Then Chris planed the outside door to the kitchen so it opens and closes easily, no more hip shoving required. Chris headed out to weed-whack the North Trail for an hour before lunch, at which time we had CLT’s – cheese, lettuce (actually Napa cabbage), and tomato sandwiches – on the morning-baked bread. I joined him on the North Trail after lunch to prune those trail-walking “gotchas” on either side of the trail. I’m pretty short – just a bit over 5’ – and so I made an effort to trim those stickery and non-stickery protrusions from the ground up to accommodate those visitors who are taller than I am, as well as my size kids, and smaller. As I walked out, the light overcast shifted to muted sun and the island was surrounded in a short-lived Camelot-like fog. I also noted swaths of tall, uncut grass where it looked like an animal had bedded down, but since there are no mammals here, I knew this tall grass had merely prostrated itself before the wind. Chris had given me a heads-up about some marshy places along the trail – no wonder with yesterday’s rains – and found several more than welt deep along the way. I also saw a small oak tree along that trail, the only one I’ve seen here to date. When finished, we took a few minutes to enjoy the view from the North Trail vista, where we saw a seagull brooding her egg on a nearby nest; the same one we’d seen before when we first walked the trail with Cyndy. After returning our equipment to the whistle house, we headed down to the cove, just because. Once again on the way down, I saw the tail end of a snake slither away from in front of me. Ugh, but improving. We found a 40’ mostly branchless tree had washed up, breaching the beach. So while I went sea glass searching, Chris got a hand saw from the donkey engine shed and cut it back so we could step around, and not just over it. Then we sat on the steps and watched a flock of 21 Eider ducks cruise the cove – birds of a feather do stick together – as clouds moved in. Once we felt raindrops, we headed back up the hill where we found some more sun, for awhile anyway.
Saturday, June 15, 2019 Day Fifteen I awoke from a dream about coming across a clear, cereal-sized bowl full of sea glass located in the median of a divided highway. Just as I noticed four large pieces of cobalt blue glass at the top of the bowl, several gulls dive-bombed it, strewing the pieces into the highway. I also dreamt about going into an off-island public restroom and discovering pit toilets there instead of the porcelain flush commodes I was expecting. Hmmm, don’t need a professional to help decipher these dreams! In any event, Chris and I had a good laugh as I shared my dreams over a breakfast of sourdough, blueberry pancakes. After breakfast, Chris headed down the hill to mow around the cove: the Clivus, donkey engine shed, and at the trailheads for the Cove and Cobblestone Trails. He also cut up the beached log that had washed up in the cove. I weeded the chive bed, while watching multiple sailboats looking south towards Casco Bay; some more northerly. After a bite of lunch, Chris relocated the receiver on gate of the lattice work surrounding the front of the main house so it latches shut now, once the caulking hardens, either we or the WWs can repaint the small exposed square where the receiver used to be. And wouldn’t you know it, when I went out to see the results of his work there, I encountered the snake Chris had told me he’d seen around the house and I’d so far missed, quite happily I might add. By then, Chris had moved on to chiseling areas of the 2 x 4 that secures the magnificent wood doors to the tower – so it drops in a comes out more easily – so he didn’t hear my screams, notwithstanding the fact that he too was outside. In all fairness, I have to admit I was downwind, so there was no chance for him to have heard me despite the relatively short distance apart. For the record, this serpent encounter occurred at the base of the aforementioned shimmed north steps, so don’t say I didn’t warn you! From there, we went down to the whistle house to re-glue the soles of my old athletic shoes I’m using to get wet on dinghy/going ashore day. Then it was close to 3pm and having no visitors du jour, we decided to take some time away for ourselves. We headed down the hill to walk the Cobblestone Trail, which needs the same hand-pruning previously done on the North Trail. Ignoring that for the time being, we continued down to the water, seeing violet-colored flowers on sweet pea-like vines in the grassy areas, pieces of birch bark on the multi-sized cobblestones there – very different from the rocks in the cove – all while looking our on a sea riddled with whitecaps. From there we headed back and down to the cove where we saw an atypical cross-hatch pattern in the sand below the boat house, adjacent to the usual but previously unmentioned more organic looking, pressed branch with leaves-appearing image in the sand. We returned to the main house, and commenced dinner preps ahead of starting the generator. Chris prepared hummus from previously cooked garbanzo beans, and I chopped the chives I’d accidentally “harvested” while weeding the chive bed for inclusion in tonight’s version of smashed potatoes. Our weekly can of sardines – gotta have those Omega 3s – carrots with the hummus and another great dinner. According to my phone, reporting Georgetown weather, the winds were running at 22mph, but the whip-sawed jeans I’d hung out to air suggested more. (see photos) We’re confident we’ll have more accurate readings once the weather station is fully operational, still to come. Tonight’s sunset was obscured by clouds, but thanks to a horizontal break in them well above the horizon, the sun’s rays shined through like a luminescent fan. Batten down the tarps! A 9pm, in conjunction with shutting down the generator, we checked and added additional tie-downs to the tarps covering the helicopter bags full of whistle house roofing debris. The whistle house roof tarping is still holding fast thanks to the great job by Dave, Nate and John!
Sunday, June 16, 2019 Day Sixteen: Happy Father’s Day! Chris told me that the beached breech log that he cut up yesterday was nowhere to be found this morning; most likely carried out to sea except for the 20’ top part which was perched at a jaunty angle on the rocks on the north side of the cove. I brought up two empty gas cans from the whistle house ahead of staging for the WW at the donkey engine shed ahead of their next island visit. In deference to the “house” snake I gratefully hadn’t seen before yesterday, I placed them – temporarily, on the south porch, having no stomach for a slithery encounter first thing in the morning! After breakfast, Chris headed outside to temporarily steady/shim-to-upright, more historical building markers using recycled materials; also to refasten the museum downspout while I spent some time writing here. Chris has an idea for a more summer-permanent marker steadying solution he’s going to run by FOSILs before implementing. Even with Chris walking in front of me – my anti-snake-encounter strategy hedge to my intentions – as we headed down the hill to hand-prune the Cobblestone Trail, I was the one who crossed paths with a green snake, a variety snake-fearless Chris has yet to see, poor guy. My intentions are obviously working, ugh. We had about an hour+ of hand-pruning, to a background chorus of birdsongs and squawks, before the rain started and so we returned to the house, just in time for a late lunch. After that, Chris removed and cleaned the lens of the overhead dining room light fixture (see before and after photos) and with the dining room table temporarily relocated so Chris could access the light fixture, I repaired most of the snags in the carpet below. Then Chris and I sat down together to read in the front room; for me, the first of several books I brought with me to read this summer, before I knew what a wonderful variety of tomes there are resident at the main house. So many choices! By 4:30pm, encroaching fog had entirely cloaked the nearby whistle house, making it impossible to see from the main house. We shifted to pre-generator dinner preps: homemade, including broth, vegetable soup with yellow-eye beans and quinoa which we ate with the last of our cornbread. With the generator already running, we also baked back-to-back, Chris’ tasty granola concoction and oatmeal raisin cookies, eating almost half of the latter with a glass of milk, of course! When we went outside to shut off the generator and lower the flag at 7:30pm, the fog had enveloped the island to the extent that we couldn’t see water from any landside vantage point even though we could hear it everywhere.