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, alternatively 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 (WW) accommodating the change.
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, starting a garden after all, eh Cyndy? An easy dinner of leftovers, another gorgeous sunset, and bed.
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, Nat 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 Nat. 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 his 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. 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! At 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, Nat 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.
Monday, June 17, 2019 Day Seventeen We awoke to a bright, clear, sunny day, with no residual signs of yesterday’s cloak of fog. We are transitioning from an intellectual to more of a gut level understanding of how much this place is nature-driven, directed by sunrises and sunsets, high and low tides, and the almost ever-present winds and their changing directions. By 9am, Chris had unhung, then trimmed and planed the bottom and rehung the north door to the main house porch so now it swings freely without catching the floor mat. While the grass was drying out, we returned to finish hand-pruning the Cobblestone Trail under the watchful eyes of the resident redwing blackbird. Today, our efforts resulted in repeated bursts of pollen “explosions” into the air as we moved the prolifically flowering portions of the laurels aside to reach dead, trail-penetrating “gotchas.” Chris earned his “snake-sweeping” badge on our walk back up the hill, his presence causing an expedited serpent trail crossing ahead of me. Whew! Even that singular success warrants his continuing to walk ahead of me, notwithstanding the fact that he walks twice as fast as I do, regardless of terrain. We have bread, again! Early this morning, Chris made a whole wheat “sponge” – a dough consisting of warm water, yeast, sugar, and flour – which he baked on the propane grill while we ate lunch. We mowed at the top of the hill afterwards, taking turns on the Gravely and push mower. Once that was completed, we headed down the hill to the cove at low tide for further explorations and osprey watching. An orange, rainbow-shaped halo shone above the sun as it set behind the Presidentials. Less than an hour later, we watched a beautiful orange-hued full moon rise. It too had an orange aura that morphed into pale yellow, rimmed by burnt orange, as it continued its ascent
Tuesday, June 18, 2019 Day Eighteen An earlier riser than I, Chris had had his coffee, breakfast, made several trips to the whistle house, and cleaned the propane grill – his “new” outdoor bread-baking “over” – by the time I was up at 7am. The Coast Guard arrived mid-morning to repair the foghorn, now back in service. They also checked the solar installation in the tower and visited the museum before heading down to be picked back up in the cove. Chris gave the weather station another go, and got it entirely operational, except for the barometer which, the manufacturer said when called, needs factory TLC. None of the squash seeds we planted almost two weeks ago have sprouted, so Chris planted the last of the seeds in containers we could keep inside in the event it’s still too cool outside. Maybe we should have waited later into the June-July planting-in-Maine schedule on the seed package. After lunch, we headed down the hill to mow, weed-whack, and hand-prune the Cove Trail and campground. As we arrived, we saw a sailboat mooring in the cove, so Chris worked close by so he could welcome them to the island while I mowed down the trail. He greeted the couple and their daughter, on a return visit from Gloucester, MA after 12 years’ absence, and offered a tour after they’d had a chance to hike the trails, their first priority. I did the tour and museum with them while Chris finished up down below. Atypically, there has been little wind today, so no smart-sounding cracking of the flag to accompany our comings and goings from the main house. Perhaps that’s what has allowed the pea soup fog to roll in, and for the just repaired foghorn to be heard.
Wednesday, June 19, 2019 Day Nineteen: Juneteenth! Hey there, keepers, have you any trash? Yes ma’am, yes sir, twelve days full! Hey there, keepers, why such a dash? Composting and recycling keeps it small! With lingering pea soup fog, Chris and I briefly wondered if Captain Ethan and the WW would still come out, but as the Guppy transporting all of them motored into the cove right on time, we knew our concerns were entirely unfounded. Besides, we knew they would have let us know if the omni-present weather conditions would have dictated a different plan. Once ashore, we encountered voracious mosquitoes so we hopped into our truck without first stopping to change into dry footwear. Our first stop was replenishing our water supply. As we left that location, we stopped to admire a garden, and visited briefly with the gardener who was hard at work despite the swarming mosquitoes there as well; an atypical event for these parts we were told throughout the day. She kindly offered and we gratefully accepted a we-saw-it-picked bunch of leaf lettuce and a separate handful of dill. Out thanks to both our water suppliers and the generous gardener! We continued on to the Phippsburg Transfer Station to deposit our trash and recycling, the PO, and with a stop to change into dry shoes – ahhhh! – a raft of other destinations, including two natural foods grocery stores we hadn’t previously explored. As we moved through our day, the weather conditions morphed from chilly fog, to warming haze, to sunny and downright warm enough for me to be comfortable in a T-shirt outside before reversing as we returned to Ft. Popham for our ride back out to the still foggy island. Despite weather conditions and predictions, we optimistically hung-out our laundry, which we anticipate will be dry … sometime over the weekend’s predicted sun.
Thursday, June 20, 2019 Day Twenty A bowl of heated overnight oatmeal was just the thing on this still pea soup foggy morning. We were welcomed by an armada of ducks – too foggy to see the brand – in the cove after walking down the hill this morning. Rain is imminent so it’s looking like a good day for indoor keeper projects, reading, and baking! Twelve hours and 1.31 inches of still coming rain later, water is pooling even on the two inclining and declining trails between the main house and the whistle house. Whatever happened to gravity? We also discovered some leaks in the whistle house roof, so strategically located an empty wheelbarrow and a trash can to catch the drips after covering the electric equipment and materials that could be damaged by getting wet.
Friday, June 21, 2019 Day Twenty-One: Summer Solstice! Today’s rain didn’t materialize as forecasted, butit remained wet and isty as we saw some signs of clearing – low slung blue skies – to the east. Gain we did mostly indoor projects, at the museum – Chris rehung the interior FOSILs sign on the staircase; at the main house –I went through the drawer of flags to pull out bunting for the 4th of July; and close enough to shelter if it did rain – Chris repaired the picnic table leg and disassembled the old compost bin, made in Istanbul, Turkey! The whistle hose roof leaking has stopped, but we’re keeping everything covered as a hedge against any future drips. Midafternoon, we walked down to the cove and along the cove trail. We saw one of the two ospreys with a fish in her/his talons; the usual gull suspects but more active and vocal than usual; and the duck armada with 4our ducklings bobbing along with the adults. We wondered, are they this year’s only survivors? Thanks to 13mph winds, our totally rain-soaked-since-hung-out-late-Wednesday-afternoon laundry, was entirely dry by 6pm despite the mid-afternoon mists, encroaching fog, and downright dampness. At dusk, there was a distinctive dark blue “line” where the water met the horizon, more noticeable to the northeast, east, and southeast, than towards land. Calm-appearing seas, almost placid, and little wind…
Saturday, June 22, 2019 Day Twenty-Two We think the gulls must be guarding newly hatched chicks, as they were even more vocal while circling above the whistle house early this morning than they were down at the cove yesterday afternoon. There is a cacophony of sound here; a veritable soundscape distinct from the equally striking visuals. The wind, the sea – even when the surf isn’t crashing down below – the birds. The seas looked calm again this morning and still, the currents were forming foam-flecked parabola-like shapes out on the water. Appearances can be deceiving. With the forecasted sunny morning weather coming to fruition, Chris and I thought it best to stay close by the museum and tower in anticipation of visitors who quickly materialized. The first was a repeat visitor from Harpswell bringing two new guests, one from India and one from Russia. The second was whistle house roof volunteer, John, and a friend who stopped en route to relocating to a new mooring. The third was a Southport couple with three guests from Washington, DC by way of Venezuela. Despite picture perfect, chamber of commerce weather during their visits, John saw the winds pick up and decided to head on out to his destination about two hours before an impressive storm blew in from the north shortly after 1pm, bringing with it gusts up to 30mph! Lightning, thunder, and instant whitecaps, as if a sea-sized solution of vinegar and baking soda had been mixed and activated before our very eyes. The third group was just coming up from the North Trail and took shelter on the north porch and in the museum. The first group was out on a trail, so we brought their packs inside, and correctly anticipated their rain-soaked arrival shortly. Happily, they had brought a change of clothes, so we welcomed them into our quarters to dry off and change. Any port in a storm! The rain and lightning stopped, and the whitecaps subsided sooner than the thunder which continued to intermittently rumble past mid-afternoon. When the last of our visitors left between squalls, Chris and I made our way to the kitchen to start our first batches of sauerkraut ever. Will report on our success in future postings. The sun glowed a luminescent yellow with pink undertones as it set, subsequently accented with and a similarly colored aura that hung above the horizon after the sun could no longer be seen. The seas were lake-like calm, giving no indication of the alternating wind and rain and thunder and lightning and whitecaps that exploded over the island this afternoon. What a place?!
Sunday, June 23, 2019 Day Twenty-Three Chris discovered a sailboat moored in the cove on his early morning trip down the hill, and we anticipated a visit from them which ultimately didn’t happen. That’s not to say we didn’t have visitors. Glorious weather on a weekend day made that a sure bet! The first arrived late morning on Captain Ethan’s Leeward just as we finished our downhill mowing, weed-whacking, and cleaning of the Clivus. Chris conducted the tower tours while I assisted our guests in the museum and gift shop. The tower tours are limited to six people, so Chris got his stair-climbing in with four separate trips to accommodate the 23 people Captain Ethan had brought to the island. We had just sat down to a late lunch when we had the opportunity to welcome four more arriving couples who had sailed in on three separate boats. One of those couples gifted us with a bottle of Spanish red wine; an entirely unexpected but appreciated token of their appreciation for our efforts here, thank you! Once again, Chris conducted the tower tours while I docented the museum and gift shop. The beautiful weather was conducive to island explorations so most if not all of our 31 total visitors spent some time on one of the trails. After they departed, we discovered the first casualty of our intermittent refrigeration: milk. Happily, Chris is adept at using sour milk in his baking so no loss there. Going forward, we’ll need to purchase less or drink more! Speaking of food, we have propane-grilled pizza on tonight’s menu, another first. I’ll be photo-documenting the preparations and, if they pass QC muster, I may add photos of the finished product here later. Standby!
Monday, June 24, 2019 Day Twenty-Four The light. Virtually every visitor who resides within 20 miles of the island, or further afield and returns for a repeat visit, has commented on the loss of the light, and expressed their hope for the it to be re-illuminated soon. Chris and I have never seen the light operational, so our perspective is slightly different even though we too hope for its bright future. You see, whenever we are in the tower during daylight, the amazing, 162 year old First Order Fresnel Lens is still “working,” using the natural light to refract multiple bright rainbows onto the tower’s interior; their positions dictated by the time of day. Like the “real” light, these rainbows are silent but powerful reminders of what the Seguin Island Light once was…and still is. Go to https://uslhs.org/fresnel-lens-makers for the story behind the name on the brass plate at the base of the lens’ supporting structure: <>
We greeted a total of 14 visitors today from four separate moorings. The first was a pinky schooner, associated with Maritime Gloucester, en route from Portland to Boothbay. Of the five crew members who came ashore, some had participated in building her, and one was the grand-daughter of a lighthouse keeper! Then we had a family of four returning to Seguin Island after more than ten years, their then toddler sons now grown young men. Another couple from Cumberland came with their visiting-from-Maryland granddaughters who were keen to tour the tower and posed insightful questions based on what they saw in the museum. Last but not least was a visitor who sailed in on a sloop from Machias. He arrived late afternoon, while Chris and I were cleaning the mowers before putting them back in the whistle house, having mowed up top between visitors. (Chris’ idea to start mowing early – before 8am – on a beautiful, visitor-anticipated day, was prudent and one we’ll repeat in the future.) After a tower and museum tour, our Machias visitor, Chris and I sat and visited on the benches near the weather station before he returned to the cove for the night. Then Chris and I initiated some smallish repairs in and around the tower and museum before calling it a day and stopping for dinner. For “dessert,” we were treated to the dining room view of two yellow finches, perched nearby on tall stalks of uncut grass while eating the plentiful, surrounding seed heads.
Tuesday, June 25, 2019 Day Twenty-Five Chris and Debby Went down the hill To fetch two gallons Of water…stored in the donkey engine shed. It’s so much easier to Tote one gallon jugs uphill Than the five gallon versions We refill ashore and bring to the island weekly! Chris completed the repairs we had started late yesterday, including securing some outside signs and adjusting the strike plate on the north screen door to the museum before heading down to weed-whack the South Trail. Although mowing and weed-whacking have slowed from the beginning of the month, we still see the new growth almost daily, especially after winds and rains cause the uncut grass and foliage to bow into the trails; anticipatory homage to the next hiker perhaps? Rain arrived at 2pm, on forecasted schedule, so we retreated inside for the remainder of the day. Dinner tonight will be leftover propane grill-cooked pizza and stovetop soup. Here’s a photo of the pizza…before it was leftover. Does anyone recognize the purple toppings? Hint: They are the flowers of edible perennials growing on the island.
Wednesday, June 26, 2019 Day Twenty-Six Despite the dicey weather – just ending rain and still-thick and misty fog – we went ashore as planned Wednesday morning, leaving the island on schedule at 7am. While we were off and running our errands, including finding a local source of chocolate until we can return to Trader Joe’s for our fav, the Wednesday Warriors were hard at work scraping and painting the tower railing, as well as scraping the front of the main house and pump house. They also scraped the lichen off the whistle house and spent some time working on the weather station to calibrate the wind direction; something Chris finished up once we returned to the island that afternoon. As we all know, all work and no play is no fun at all, so we’re getting more efficient at our errands so we can intersperse some nearby exploration and gallivanting about into our weekly day ashore. So while in Bath today, we stopped at the Virginia Visitor Center where a dedicated group of shipwrights and volunteers regular gather to greet and inform visitors and to reconstruct the Virginia, also known as Maine’s First Ship, originally build by members of the Popham Colony in the winter of 1607-08. We visited with two volunteers there, one of whom is also a FOSILs member, as well as a couple of older “salts” who regularly come by to watch the reconstruction progress. According to an article I read subsequently that night, she is set to launch on June 7, 2020. Perhaps we’ll return for that! We also drove the road we’d not yet traveled…down to Hermit Beach/Island before our return to the island afterward. On that short voyage back, we saw a seal and two researchers standing near the shore on Pond Island, their heads in a cloud of flying birds. Terns? Gulls? Once back, we bravely hung out our laundry despite forecast for more damp.
Thursday, June 27, 2019 Day Twenty-Seven The fog we awoke to early this morning continued to thicken, diminishing visibility and shrouding our view of our surroundings to about 300’ around the main house by mid-morning. Zero sea view, but the sound is ever-present. We’re still planning to head outside this morning to check the trails for good accessibility and clearance ahead of scheduled ferry visitors tomorrow. Then, pending wind direction, E-NE is best for keeping the grill at the intended temperature, Chris may take on another baking project or two. He’s discovered that propane grill baking doesn’t work well when the prevailing winds are from the N-NW because it cools the grill down below baking temperatures. Deciding that the sides of the South Trail required our trimming attention, we headed there mid-morning, admiring the frothy surf below, still visible through the fog. Buttercup, buttercup, my little buttercup… For readers of, ah, a certain age, I hope this lyric will evoke fond memories. For readers younger than that, please Google, knowing it’s not the Build Me Up, Buttercup song. Anyway, much of the more open areas along the trail were blanketed with buttercups, but not so thickly that we couldn’t see the poison ivy alongside them. A brief break for lunch and we walked down the hill towards the cove to clean the information board there, remove an offending screw from the handrail of the stairs to/from the cove, and fix the door to the Clivus so it no longer sticks and still closes securely for privacy while in use. While there, I played some hooky at the cove, observing gull tracks in the sand, the seemingly orchestrated movement of seaweed across the cove and, today’s pièce de résistance, a couple of gray-brown (rock-colored) gull chicks on the ledge overlooking the cove; which caused Chris to momentarily leave his task to join me in a good look. We have no idea what the gestation period is for gulls, but to have witnessed the transition from the eggs-in-nests we’d seen our first week here to temporarily unattended chicks was pleasing to us both. Almost equally pleasing was Chris earning two more snake-sweeping badges, today alone, one on our way down and another one on our way up the hill. This evening, we dined to the comparatively dulcet sound of the current foghorn which, as written in A History of Seguin Island Lighthouse, was “…likened to that of an enraged bull of Bashan” according to the 1926-1936 keeper. That keeper claimed that the concussion, not the air blast, would put out an oil lantern on the ground eight feet below the horn, and knock down gulls flying by at the time. Wow!
Friday, June 28, 2019 Day Twenty-Eight We were still surrounded by fog when we woke up this morning. However, having faith in the forecasted sun to come, along with today’s ferry visitors, we walked the North Trail to check both accessibility – it’s still boggy in spots – and to time a leisurely hike – 50 minutes round trip – in anticipation of questions regarding the duration of each of the four non-lighthouse trails on the island. At the vista, we saw a gull sitting on a nest we’ve watched since our arrival, still with unhatched eggs, and wondered about the hatching timing difference between these eggs and the gull chicks at the cove. Chris pointed out a single pale-pink Queen Anne’s Lace-type bloom amidst a sea of same-shaped white blooms, all under a mist gently rolling across the island. On our next walk out there, we’ll pull one of the white ones to see if it is QAL, aka wild carrot, or not. At about 11:15am, Captain Ethan arrived in the cove with 23 visitors aboard, along with packages and mail for us. Thanks to Cyndy and Captain Ethan making happen that special delivery of those items that arrived Wednesday afternoon, after we had already left the mainland. Once again, Chris took care of the tower tours while I assisted our visitors in the museum and gift shop. Meeting and hearing the stories of the people who come out here, either by ferry or on their own, is a real treat for us; a highlight of being here. Today’s group included a couple from Maryland who were married here on Seguin island in August 2011, the day before the keepers had to be evacuated due to Hurricane Irene!
Saturday, June 29, 2019 Day Twenty-Nine By noon, the sun had progressively burned its way through the haze, denying the forecasted midday rain in favor of the 9am raindrops which delayed our raising of the flag. I’d just finished my second book since coming on island, and decided to go out back to see what I could see now that the skies were clearing. The snake in the chive bed that I’d recently weeded by gloveless hand was not on my viewing agenda! Shortly thereafter, two visitors arriving by motorboat enjoyed touring the tower and the museum, and then returned to the cove where we saw them paddle-boarding when we walked down the hill to fetch a gallon of water. While there, we also noticed one of the two gull chicks down on the rocks in the cove, apparently fallen – unhurt – from the overhead ledge, and trying to make its way back up; a seemingly impossible task. We were still at the cove when we greeted eight more visitors from Montréal, four adults and four children, who had sailed over from Georgetown. After they toured both the tower and the museum, and visited with us about the different trails, they chose the Cobblestone Trail so the kids, of all ages, could clamber on and around the rocks there before overnighting in the cove.
Sunday, June 30, 2019 Day Thirty The weather forecast for morning rain was off by several hours, as the rain did not arrive until early afternoon. We spent the morning sorting and rearranging things in the donkey engine shed to make it more user-friendly for the Wednesday Warriors and us too. Our Canadian visitors were still moored in the cove when we went back up the hill to have some lunch. We returned to finish our project after lunch; also to look again for the fallen gull chick which, unfortunately, we no longer saw…or heard. There was a new sloop moored where the Canadians had been, but with it raining steadily as we left the cove, we expected no more visitors for the day. We were proven wrong when, an hour later, I heard voices outside and greeted three rain-coated visitors, who had sailed down from The Basin and stopped to visit in the rain. One of the three, a Portland resident, said he’s been sailing by here for 35 years and this was his first stop, precipitated (my very much intended pun) by the rain. After a tour of the tower and museum and another good multi-topic conversation, we encouraged their return…before another 35 years goes by! Intermittent, wind-driven rain for the remainder of the day, including a short-lived sunlit clearing followed by a brief deluge, and then this, a double rainbow, the more vibrant of the two which ultimately arced across the entire sky, from sea to sea:
July 1, 2019 Day Thirty-One A gorgeous, cloudless morning strongly suggests visitors so, once again, we started mowing before 8am. It’s no coincidence that dry weather is optimal for visitors and mowing! Our first visitors, two couples from Cape Elizabeth and their dog, arrived before 10am. A father and son from Southport, longtime visitors, to the island, arrived shortly thereafter; all for a combination of walking the trails, climbing the tower, and visiting the museum and gift shop. Clouds arrived by noon when we were able to resume mowing. About an hour later, six more visitors arrived, two from Phippsburg with four family members from Wisconsin. Two visitors from Bowdoinham and Lexington, VA, along with their two dogs who abandoned ship in the cove and swam to shore followed. Then eight visitors came in from Southport, five adults and three older children who hail from Massachusetts, New York and North Carolina, plus their dog arrived to enjoy the island. One young boy doggedly completed the Seguin Island K.I.T. (Keeper In Training) Activity Guide and was duly awarded an Official K.I.T. Certificate. If we obtain the requested photo and parental consent, we will post a photo of this determined young man with his certificate! By now, it was close to 6pm and our thoughts turned to dinner, like all meals, planned and timed around a running generator and the appliances we can use at one time. Before starting it up, we checked the hours on the beast and saw that it needed an oil change so we did that before generator launch, heading back inside for dinner, dishes, showers, generator shutdown, and bed.
July 2, 2019 Day Thirty-Two Another welcomed sunny day, and Chris had almost finished mowing below when our first visitors arrived shortly after 10am. This Vermont couple kayaked in from Seawall, the man having kayaked in the area for thirty years. They said they saw two “finned” fish en route – a first – and asked a lobsterman who said they might be dolphins or nurse sharks. He also told them he’d seen a 250# sea turtle! A father and young son arrived as they left, and Chris noted that the boy asked many good questions while touring the tower. Then we greeted seven FOSIL member-visitors from New Jersey and Maryland who are vacationing in Georgetown. A group of 28 visitors, courtesy of Captain Ethan, arrived right on their sterns, including two dogs. I lost track after that with so many comings and goings, except for the one “new” dog accompanying a group of five from the Philadelphia area who regularly vacation nearby twice a year. The man said that he’d calculated that this was their 38th visit to Seguin! Next and last, was a couple of full time sea cruisers, up from the Keys with a young North Carolina grandson serving as “crew.” They said they might moor overnight in the cove, but we didn’t see them when we went back down the hill to complete the mowing there. A full day of people, dogs, & conversations with special thanks to those who take their trash and dog waste with them off-island!
July 3, 2019 Day Thirty-Three Shore leave today, starting with the happy observation of two lightening-in-color gull chicks on the ledge with an adult. We don’t know if the fallen chick was somehow “rescued” or if there were three or more to begin with and we’d missed one. We spent the entire day in Bath where, in conjunction with our errands, we got to see the preparations for Bath Heritage Days and Music Festival, Bath’s five day long 4th of July celebration. It appears to run throughout downtown Bath and down to the riverfront, centered around Waterfront Park, where we saw a stage being set up for music and vendors setting up along Commercial Street. It certainly has the makings of a grand event! We returned to visit the reconstruction of the Virginia, Maine’s First Ship, and the Maine Maritime Museum, where we continue to see and learn something new. At Ft. Popham, we rendezvoused with our first family visitors who rode back out to the island with us on Captain Ethan’s Guppy for a two-day stay. A family of four and their dog arrived around 6pm, eager to tour the tower and make some “replacement” purchases from their last visit to Seguin several years back. That evening, we watched fireworks in Georgetown (?) from the north porch.
July 4, 2019 Day Thirty-Four: Happy 4th of July! We enjoyed a leisurely start to the day, visiting with family all morning, before our first 20 visitors arrived on Captain Ethan’s Leeward, shortly before noon. Another dog day of summer, with one to two dogs accompanying some of those aboard the ferry, as well as some but not all of the various groupings that came up afterward, including a family with the natal surname of Seguin! One wonders how many places they can travel to arrive at a place where their name is emblazoned everywhere? Once post-ferry visitors had left the island, we resumed our family visit while waiting for the sun to go down and the fireworks to go up. We took full advantage of our island location to watch from the tower catwalk, more than a half dozen displays in a coastal arc running from the northeast to the west and southwest.
July 5, 2019 Day Thirty-Five Another leisurely morning with family before the day’s first visitors – longtime repeat visitors – arrived from Scarborough; the man having come out to Seguin Island since boyhood, when the Coast Guard was actively stationed here. Captain Ethan arrived shortly thereafter with 26 aboard the Leeward, and we reluctantly bade our family adieu as we commenced tower tours and museum and gift shop assistance. In short order, our ferry visitors were succeeded by a group of seven from a Boston suburb, with dog, currently living at their vacation home in Maine. Another small group of four, also with the family dog, followed. Then came a succession of overnighting-in-the-cove visitors: -Four Celtic musicians – a combination of avocational players and a professional songwriter – from Canada and Massachusetts on a Hans Christian Cutter. We suggested a concert in the cove that evening which we’d intended to attend, but sleep overcame us before we made it down; -A couple who live on their boat in Georgetown, taking a short break from work and their usual mooring; and -A very recently married long-term couple from New Hampshire, accompanied by a friend from Germany, all seeking some inspirational time on the coast as they prepare their exhibit for an art show in South Portland next month. The following photo was taken the next morning, what I thought was first thing, but still after one of the overnighters had already left the cove.
July 6, 2019 Day Thirty-Six Chris and I went down to the cove before 8am so he could weed-whack the Cobblestone Trail and I could clean and rake the Clivus, ahead of anticipated free-lance (i.e. non-Leeward-transported) visitors on this warm and sunny day. As usual, I took a bit of time down on the cove during low tide, enjoying the sand prints there. Two of the four aboard the overnighting cutter came up mid-morning to make a purchase and donation at the gift shop, thank you! Then the six aboard the sailboat we’d watched motor into the cove arrived from their berth at Robinhood Marina in Georgetown. It was a return visit for all but two who quickly took Chris up on his offer to tour the tower while their companions set up the picnic table for an early lunch. Another group of eight arrived shortly thereafter, sailing in from their Georgetown residence, and we enjoyed our extended conversations with them. All of this morning’s visitors were watching the increasing winds and swelling seas so they could leave ahead of rain forecasted for the afternoon. About noon, after everyone had left, Chris and I made a quick trip down to the cove to make sure everything was battened down from our morning chores. There, we unexpectedly greeted another couple sailing from Freeport to Boothbay. Also aware of the forecast, they decided they could remain on-island for about 30 minutes before continuing on to Boothbay. We helped to optimize their on-island time with a tour of the tower, a visit to the museum, and purchases at the gift shop, and invited them to stop on their way back early next week to hike the trails. By 3:30, winds were gusting up to 25mph from the SW, and whitecaps helped to trace the movement of the corresponding currents. Aside from spritzes of rain that penetrated the screens just enough to leave distinct droplets on the windowpanes, no other rain materialized and the whitecaps subsided as well. By 5pm, dark clouds descended, shrinking the remaining light down to a horizontal ribbon at the horizon, connecting the sky and the seas. The rain arrived 30 minutes later, falling from dull gray clouds and obliterating our view of the ocean. When the rain stopped at 8pm, we saw that fog had embraced the northern portion of the island, somewhat shrouding the nearby oil house from our view. Bona fide clouds – neither fog nor haze – appeared to be perched on top of the water to the northeast, and to the west, the sunset cast a long, luminescent pink-orange glow through the moving mist to the western shore of the island. As if in competition with the varied weather conditions and views from one spot, a rainbow appeared in a fractured arc from the northeast to the east, once again, beginning and ending in the ocean. Shortly after the daylight diminished to the point that we couldn’t see anything, we heard muffled rumblings that we initially mistook for thunder…before stepping outside and seeing another round of fireworks, visibly veiled by the fog still enveloping the island to the N/NW.
July 7, 2019 Day Thirty-Seven Last night’s rain dropped temperatures by a good ten degrees, warranting a warming top over shorts despite the sunny and not too breezy morning. Chris rough-trimmed the marshy area at the beginning of the easterly portion of the North Trail loop so it’s passable though shoe-drenching. Still, beautiful purple irises and tall cattails make the foray worthwhile…with the right footwear – rubber boots recommended! Today’s ferry visitors started arriving at the top of the hill around 11:40am. They included a family of four from Bath and upstate New York, another family of seven from Maine and Florida, and a family of five from the Brunswick area. Non-ferry visitors arrived in short order, including a family of six from Boston and, in the summer, Baypoint. Following a tower tour, review of the museum exhibits, and a game of checkers on the US Coast Guard-issue game table left on Seguin after automation in 1985, they went on an extended hike up the North Trail and back. We spoke briefly with a couple who spent their uphill time picnicking and then reading on the rocks between the main house and the whistle house. A group of three from western Massachusetts crested the hill as the couple was starting their walk down the cove. They enjoyed a tour, the museum, and purchasing some souvenirs of their visit before leaving. Next to arrive were two men from Nashville who swam ashore absent a dinghy they said would be purchased next year. Three more from the same vessel came up after the swimming “scouts” returned to the cove. It turns out that their family hails from Cape Elizabeth, having settled there in the 1700s after coming over from England. Seeking new efficiencies, we tried a new mowing tack after everyone left: cutting the grass at the end of the day, post-visitors, when it’s entirely wind-blown dry, instead of in the morning, when it’s still wet and we’re trying to get it done before visitors arrive. Chris is faster on the Gravely than I am, and so he completed the uphill mowing in about half my time, while I was here wrapping up this week’s blog in preparation for sending it off to Cyndy for posting. After a later than usual dinner, we went outside to catch the fireworks in Bath. I don’t know if we arrived late to that party, or if it was because we weren’t in the tower as we were on the fourth, but what we did see was a vivid, outlined-in-mauve and orange profile of Mt. Washington and the Presidential Mountains, and the glow of a relatively new moon shimmering across the water.
July 8, 2019 Day Thirty-Eight Post mowing, there is a noticeable increase in the number of birds in the cut areas, more songbirds than gulls unless it’s raining. We think it’s because the shorter grass makes all of the potential delicacies otherwise hidden in the longer grass more available. The catbird’s approach is particularly interesting: it flies down from a perch, stops and is momentarily immobile, then cocks its head to one side, perhaps listening for the movement of its next snack, and then bam, strikes and secures its targeted tidbit. With the intention of stemming the tide of escalating refrigerated food spoilage, today we invoked our plan, with Cyndy’s support, to start running the generator some midday in addition to mornings and evenings. It proved to be the perfect day to beta test our plan as we were able to accomplish this ahead of our first visitors of this sunny day, who started arriving early afternoon, after our midday run. You see, the sounds of nature are one of the joys of this place and we don’t want to mitigate that experience for our visitors by running the generator while they’re here. We know we’ll have to be a bit more creative on ferry tour days, when visitors are on-island between 11:30 and 1:30; also on those days that bring freelancers all daylight long, but we’re confident that we can work it out so visitors have a great visit and our food stays edible! A couple sailing their Morgan from Boothbay to the Shoals stopped by early afternoon, after the mid-day generator run, and will be overnighting in the cove. Another couple arrived in their wake, en sailing route home to Cape Elizabeth. Later in the afternoon, a New Hampshire family of four, sailing from Portland to Rockland, stopped for a return visit to the island. Then a family of three on a return daytrip from Georgetown, stopped in. The man said that he’d seen a weasel* or a mink eating gull eggs on prior visits, and coupled with guest log entries of raccoon sightings on the island, perhaps the no-mammal mantra needs to be updated? *When we shared this information with Captain Ethan, he said it was more likely a muskrat than a weasel.
July 9, 2019 Day Thirty-Nine Our first visitors of the day, three men from Connecticut, two of whom claimed to have been conscripted by the skipper, arrived shortly before 9am. They were passing through to explore potential long-term moorings in the area, and decided to stop to see Seguin. One man spoke of a First Order Fresnel Lens he’d visited in Hopetown, Bahamas. Its distinction, he explained, was that it floats on mercury and still uses a lamp and a wick, initially fueled by kerosene, now by a more modern fuel mixture. Midday, Ethan brought visitors from Vermont, Arizona, New York and New Mexico, including two friends of ours taking time from their vacation to pay us a quick visit, so wonderful to see you!! Separately, a family of seven from northern and southern California arrived from South Bristol; then three from New York City, all of whom enjoyed time in the tower, museum, and on the trails. Mid-afternoon, we welcomed three members of the Montréal contingent who’d previously visited (see June 29 entry) returning with his mother and sister who were visiting Seguin for the first time. Bienvenue encore! Once again, they will be mooring overnight in the cove, so we alerted them to our intended 6:30am shore leave departure from the cove in the morning, so we don’t startle or disturb them! Late this afternoon, two couples from Phippsburg, one repeat visitors and one newcomers, arrived to explore the museum & tour the tower. In closing , the foghorn has been set-off two days in a row now, yesterday morning and this afternoon, in clear, no fog weather and with winds gusting up to 12mph. Possibly the result of accidental albeit necessarily repeated radio clicks to activate the sound, or hijinks on the high seas?
July 10, 2019 Day Forty Such an amazing day, starting with the sight of a red-orange sun, first as a glowing orb located above the horizon in a matte gray sky, then casting its colors in a swath across the water as it continued to rise, all while we headed for the cove before 6am.
Then, as we made preparations to leave the cove – this involves us mounting the oars, carrying the dinghy down from its high tie-up point above the cove, positioning it at the water’s edge for launching – easier in high tide than low – and loading the dinghy with our trash/recycling, empty water jugs, laundry, and grocery bags – we were initially speechless and then felt incredibly privileged as we watched a seal pup swim up and with great effort, make its way up on the rocks right by the dinghy, a mere two feet from where we were standing. The three of us looked at one another, not making any move except for me who quietly turned to remove my phone from my dry bag so I could take some pictures. To our uninformed eyes, the pup appeared to be healthy – plump and uninjured – but exhausted from the effort as it closed its eyes and rested on the rocks, still feet away from us. It just looked up without moving when we moved to the opposite side of the dinghy in an attempt to launch it without disturbing the seal once the Wednesday Warriors arrived in the cove. We shared our story once aboard the Guppy, and in addition to his warning that we stay clear of and not try to engage with them – we didn’t and still, good advice for all wild animals – Captain Ethan said this was weaning time which seemed to explain this young pup being on his/her own, and exhausted from the effort. That morning, we’d also seen pogies, a nickname for menhaden, a baitfish, circling within the cove as they do, so we are hopeful that this pup was able to catch and consume some before stopping for a nap on the cove rocks. It turns out that his/her nap was short-lived as the pup slipped back into the water after we off-loaded onto the Guppy & the Wednesday Warriors moved onto the dinghy and shore.
We ran our shore leave errands in Brunswick today, before returning to Bath and the Maine Maritime Museum where we focused on their outside exhibits. The Wednesday Warriors and a local electrician continued their efforts to upgrade the electrical wiring in the main house, and also repainted the porch and restocked the gift shop; all very much appreciated, thank you! When we returned from shore leave, we saw a sailboat from Hawaii moored in the cove, and learned that the Coast Guard had choppered in for a visit. After securing the dinghy, we met and visited with the couple as we brought our belongings up from the cove. They described the configuration of the ocean floor and related challenges of sailing the currents in and around the Hawaiian Islands, which are at least 85 nautical miles apart, and why they keep their boat and sail in Maine in the summer instead. They’d stopped for a return visit to Seguin and to replace a wornout FOSILs T-shirt. We invited them to overnight in the cove, and they declined as they were headed to Boothbay.
July 11, 2019 Day Forty-One This morning, Chris mowed just up above the cove, then the Cove Trail and campground ahead of rain forecasted to start this evening. Captain Ethan cancelled today’s ferry tour due to winds, but a group of six from Massachusetts and Edgecombe arrived midday, having motored up the Sheepscot River and out to visit the island, a first for all but one. They weren’t aware that the light was out, and still were eager to tour the tower after visiting the museum and a heated game of checkers. As they were touring the tower, I noticed a two-masted vessel sailing in which Chris confirmed was the Outward Bound group we were expecting this afternoon. They will moor in the cove overnight and then we’ll dinghy them onto the island in the morning where they’ll assist with a trail project that requires more than our four resident hands. In the meantime, a couple of updates: In my July 1 entry, I referenced a young man who diligently completed the Seguin Island K.I.T. (Keeper In Training) Activity Guide and was duly awarded an Official K.I.T. Certificate. His parents consented to our posting his photo with certificate!
For our visiting plant aficionados, it turns out that the Queen Anne’s Lace-like plant I mentioned in my June 28 entry is actually comfrey. Similarly, the tentatively IDd Giant Hogweed, a noxious plant that can cause painful blisters when its sap comes into contact with our skin, may actually be Angelica, one of more than a half dozen Giant Hogweed lookalikes, all of which have varying toxic properties upon contact. A warm and special thanks to our visiting botanist, Sara, for all of the preceding information! We had an initial landside visit with one of the three Outward Bound (OB) instructors followed by a boat leave visit by the OB students and the other two instructors. After three days at sea, they were commenting that it felt strange to be on land, walking, and inside a building which made them feel claustrophobic. They all visited the tower and the museum before returning to their ship. We’ll see them again in the morning. The daylight morphed into opaque, shades-of-June fog so thick, the flagpole, less than 45 feet from the main house, seemed to melt into the surrounding mists before nightfall consumed all of the remaining light.
July 12, 2019 Day Forty-Two Chris headed down to the cove well before our 8:30am scheduled dinghy rendezvous with the nine OB students and three instructors, including their captain, and found some of the boys taking an invigorating wake-up swim in the cove.
I returned with Chris more than an hour later, to prep the dinghy for launch to ferry the OB crew onto land. Their 12 extra pairs of hands handily moved lumber up the hill from the boathouse to the whistle house to stack construction materials that will be arriving by helicopter next week. They also moved to the loop portion of the North Trail, pieces of 6 x 6s Chris had previously cut and stacked. Chris intends to build wooden walkways so visitors can traverse the marshy portions of the loop trail without soaking their feet. Our sincere thanks to them for their great assistance, positive attitudes and good energy! They hiked the South Trail after completing the great lumber relocation, and then headed back down to the cove to have lunch aboard their vessel – what we believe to be a modified two-masted gundalow, a flat-bottomed cargo barge commonly used in and around Maine from the 1600s to the 1900s – before setting sail. Chris and I were delighted to receive and unhesitatingly accepted their invitation to join them for lunch onboard in the cove, a new al fresco experience for us! We had PB & honey sandwiches for lunch, exactly what we would have eaten had we remained ashore. However, the honey was a last minute substitute for the intended jelly because a prior cook – they rotate responsibilities daily – apparently hadn’t closed the jar properly and the jelly was inundated with sea water. More on that in a minute. And if that weren’t a sufficient coincidence, we discovered that they’d bean burritos for dinner last night, just as we did. After lunch, Chris and I relocated back into the dinghy and remained moored to their vessel, with Captain Julia’s permission, in order to hear and watch their preparations to sail, or row as needed, over to Damariscove, seven nautical miles to the east. This included listening to the current NOAA marine forecast, planning their navigation routing, lessons on dead reckoning and how to calculate distance traveled and speed, and the extra safety precautions they needed to take in foggy conditions. We were also privy to an instructor-led discussion of craft – the need to do one’s best with any task you are performing, no matter how apparently insignificant e.g. closing the jelly jar properly – the students’ individual trip goals, the progress they’d made toward meeting them, and how their fellow students might assist one another in meeting their goals. We cast off as they prepared to unfurl their two sails and mount four oars, and watched as they rowed out of the cove to where they were able to catch some wind and tack before disappearing into the fog. We were very impressed by and grateful for the experience made possible, in part, by another day of rain and fog which kept Captain Ethan’s Leeward in the Ft. Popham harbor; making us available to spend more time & learn from the students, Captain Julia, and instructors Julia – yes, two – and Jorge. We saw a goldfinch and a cedar waxwing, each perched at the top of two different cone laden pine trees as we walked back up the hill from the cove, already missing the “All Hands” Outward Bounders.
July 13, 2019 Day Forty-Three We awoke to a sunny, no-sign-of-fog morning, overlooking currents edged by froth in a sea that churned froth all day. As we sat down to a breakfast of freshly-made sourdough blueberry muffins, we saw an American Redstart flying up and down a west-facing window where the main house joins the tower, apparently a good, quasi-secluded location to pick-off the insects that the spiders have yet to snare. A couple from Maryland and Kennebec Point arrived mid-morning for a repeat visit from earlier this month, this time with their adult son. We successively welcomed a family of ten from Georgetown, one of whom was a college professor who had brought out a group of students on a day we were ashore; then another family of ten from Boothbay and California, who said they’d seen the OB vessel return to Boothbay that morning; followed by a father and daughter from Brunswick who brought along five of her college classmates. In the early afternoon between visitors, I noticed accumulating clouds suspended over the surrounding landmasses and then, a short-lived translucent sea mist to the NE. Late afternoon, a multigenerational family of nine from southern New Hampshire and the Boston area sailed in from Portland, en route to Georgetown, followed by two couples from Biddeford and Falmouth, along with their toy Aussie they said was glad to be back on land. After dinner, Chris greeted another couple returning from a walk on the North Trail before returning to the cove where they will be moored for the night.
July 14, 2019 Day Forty-Four: Bastille Day Chris headed out to finish weed-whacking the South Trail first thing this morning, after which we went down to the cove to clean the Clivus. One of the four sailboats moored overnight had already sailed off by then, and was quickly replaced by another. While there, we met and visited with a man from Massachusetts who had come ashore to give his dog some shore leave before returning to his mooring for a second cup of coffee with his wife, both FOSILs members. After a bite of breakfast, we greeted a group of three from New Jersey, one of whom is a professional mariner who had sailed here from Block Island and were en route to the Cape Cod Canal. Then we greeted a family of four from Boothbay, returning after a 20-year absence. Captain Ethan brought 15 venturesome souls from California, Massachusetts, Maine, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Montréal. The woman from California is on an admirable mission to visit and photograph lighthouses across the country. She has already visited every lighthouse in California and Oregon, with the Lighthouse Passport stamps for every stop before adding Seguin Island’s stamps to her collection. These visitors were followed by freelancers: a couple from Boston; a man from Maine with a woman from Hawaii; Dave, a FOSILs volunteer and family from Bath (see June 9 entry); then seven from Boothbay; six from Ohio and Virginia; and last but not least, two men from Rhode Island en route to Harpswell for the night. With grass in need of being cut, we started mowing “up top” around 4pm, finishing a couple of hours later after which we headed inside for dinner and some quiet time.
July 15, 2019 Day Forty-Five A family of five from Boston and Harpswell were our first visitors of the day. Then a FOSILs board member and three friends arrived, intrepid volunteers testing the viability of overnighting in the guest quarters under generator conditions. Two couples from Sebasco, returning visitors who arrived mid-afternoon, toured both the tower and the museum. A couple from Auburn followed, choosing to focus on the views. Late afternoon, we joined our overnight guests for a mug of wine at the weather station, and shared stories of former lives and current activities, great fun! While there, all of us greeted a visitor and his toy poodle on a self-guided tour of the island ahead of mooring in the cove overnight, en route from Biddeford to Belfast.
July 16, 2019 Day Forty-Six Chris had coffee company this morning at 5am, thanks to a fellow early riser who also drinks coffee! Once each of our overnight guests successively joined the coffee klatsch, they relocated to the weather station before returning to the picnic table for breakfast. Our previous night’s visitor and pup returned in the morning for a tour of the tower, during which time “Cocoa Puff” was happily “kenneled” in the caring arms of the FOSIL’s board member. Full service indeed! Ethan ran two tours yesterday, the first a tour group from Maine Maritime as well as day trippers from Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Québec and Columbia! A second tour arrived about an hour later, bringing folks from the same states, plus New Jersey. We also had freelancers, five from Colorado and Falmouth; six from Harpswell, Washington, DC, and Albany, NY, some of whom were repeat visitors from two weeks ago, returning with a new crew. Last but not least were a group of six from Virginia and Pennsylvania. We regretfully bade our overnight guests adieu before they returned to shore along with the first tour group. We think their sense of adventure made their visit a great success! After a day hosting close to 70 visitors, we enjoyed quiet post-sunset time, watching the moon rise and seeing its reflected light shimmer across the water.
July 17, 2019 Day Forty-Seven Based on the weather forecast for rain, we agreed to delay our shore leave and the Wednesday Warriors until Thursday, and the Maine Island Trail Volunteers, who were coming to trim under the tramway, until next Wednesday. So assuming that we’d have no visitors, we set out before 7am to clean the Clivus, and then to weed-whack and prune the North Trail. Another remedial lesson in not making assumptions! As we returned to the main house to resupply, we discovered five Phippsburg-Portland visitors, some with direct familial connections to Seguin Island, enjoying the view from the sunset bench with their dog. Chris and I literally switched to our Seguin Island hats, opened the tower and museum, and were back in the hosting business! With rain looking imminent, our visitors headed back down to the cove shortly thereafter, and Chris returned to complete our work on the North Trail. In the late afternoon, we had a return visit from the couple sailing their Morgan from Boothbay to the Isle of Shoals, not “the Shoals” as written in my July 8 entry. The man came ashore to buy a T-shirt and then returned to his boat to, once again, overnight in the cove. The forecasted rain didn’t materialize until early evening, coming gently and going quietly. Whirlybird day tomorrow!
July 18, 2019 Day Forty-Eight What does a helicopter, lobstering, and a camel have in common? Well, they were all a part of our day today on-island, transiting to shore, and then on-shore. By 6am, we’d met and dinghied to shore, a two-person contingent of Wednesday though Thursday Warriors, so the four of us could remove the tarps from the seven helicopter bags containing roofing debris (see June 9 entry) before the helicopter arrived shortly thereafter to fly them to a dumpster positioned at Popham Beach State Park; also to deliver replacement plywood sheathing and shingles for the whistle house roof as well as a new propane oven and range for the main house!
The helicopter deliveries and ferrying were completed by 8:30am, after which Chris and I headed down to the cove to go ashore, leaving the Wednesday Warriors to host the day’s incoming tour. Captain Ethan provides our regular ride, to and from shore, and today started out no differently, except for the three hours-later-than-normal timing which, albeit pre-planned, interrupted his hauling. So we happily agreed to his request to check some traps on our trip to shore, and wow, what an experience! I was, as always when on water, concerned about getting my phone wet so my apologies for no photos accompanying this most amazing experience. As Ethan piloted the Grasshopper to each of his buoys, First Mate Brook strung the pogie baitfish (see July 10 entry) in preparation for resetting the traps. After adjusting the engine and wheel to slowly circle, Ethan pulled up his buoy – each lobsterman has their own, color and numerically-coded trap buoys – wrapped the line around a power winch which pulled the trap up to the surface of the water where Ethan hauled it up – hence the term, “hauling” when used in reference to lobstering. After placing the trap on the gunnel and in short order, Ethan and Brook pulled the lobsters from the trap, measuring each one for regulation size, and throwing back those too small or other sea creatures – mostly crabs and seaweed – who had literally taken the bait and become ensnared in the trap. Brooke quickly re-baited the trap with the pre-strung pogies and pushed it back over the gunnel, staying clear of the line as it rapidly reeled off the winch as Ethan straightened the wheel and set the engine speed to move forward with some speed to the next trap. As we traveled, Brook deftly banded the claws and placed the retained lobsters in one of two containers: one for hard shell and one for soft shell. Brook showed us a female with thousands of eggs covering her abdomen and, after notching her tail – an industry-wide sign to other lobstermen who might catch her that she’s a breeding female to be spared – threw her back into the water. After the last trap, we motored on to Ft. Popham, arriving an hour after we had left the island, full of new, eye-opening experiences. We pursued our usual shore leave routine, less a stop at the Transfer Station because it’s closed on Thursdays. On our return to Ft. Popham, ahead of our return to the island, we saw a camel being ridden at a carnival-circus taking place at the Phippsburg elementary school. So that’s what a helicopter, lobstering and a camel have in common! It’s my true story and I’m stickin’ to it!
July 19, 2019 Day Forty-Nine A family of seven from Baltimore, including a father, his adult son and wife, and four young cousins on a summer trip together, were our first visitors of the day. The father said he’d be returning in a week’s time with his daughter and her family. Captain Ethan brought a fully loaded ferry out, with visitors from Connecticut, Florida, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and our international origin du jour? Germany! Several freelance groups arrived afterwards, including a group of four from New York and another group of ten from California, Colorado, Illinois, and Wisconsin celebrating their first get-together since graduating from college in Chicago last year. We welcomed a family of three sailing up from Quantico, and another group of four from Portland. With all due respect to all of our lovely two-legged visitors, our favorite “visitor” of the day, one we felt especially privileged to see, is what we believe to have been a humpback whale off the east coast of the island. It put on quite a show, spouting and breaching, lobtailing, flipper slapping, and repeatedly showing its fluke for close to thirty minutes. Again, no photos – an IPhone has its limitations, especially at such a distance – but it was a sight to behold!
July 20, 2019 Day Fifty They’re baaack… Roofing volunteers, Dave and John, arrived last night in preparation for a weekend of reroofing the whistle house, having removed the old shingles and tarped the roof last month (see June 9 entry.) Our first “visitor” of the day, Mike, another roofing volunteer, arrived by sea kayak from Ft. Popham. Mid-morning, three men from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Florida arrived, and toured the tower and museum before returning to the cove. It looked like Grand Central Station when we went down to the cove at midday to ferry our friends out to their ride back to shore. Wonderful visit, thanks for everything! There were more boats of every description, plus kayaks and dinghies than moorings, and dozens of people enjoying the cove, swimming, climbing on the rocks, and picnicking above the water to escape the mainland heat. The stream of visitors slowed after mid-afternoon, which accommodated an earlier than usual dinner after which we mowed until dark, stopping shortly before the roofers did! With all of us unable to persuade Mike to remain overnight at this late hour, he kayaked back to the mainland around 11pm, his kayak marked by lights rigged up by John! A monumental thanks to these three men who worked doggedly all day, on a rooftop, to preserve this historic building which houses, among other things, the original Seguin Island foghorn.
July 21, 2019 Day Fifty-One Re-roofing efforts resumed at 5am this morning. Intrepid roofing volunteers, Dave and John, worked against the clock due to thunderstorms forecasted to arrive mid-morning and the need to finish as much as possible before returning to shore later today, ahead of going to work tomorrow morning. Despite the forecast, which resulted in a cancellation of Captain Ethan’s usual Sunday tour, we greeted a father and his two adult children who sailed up from near New York City. A Bayliner with a family from Woolwich arrived in the cove after lunch, but we met only their “scout” who walked up and through the museum before returning to the cove. At 3pm, it was 75 degrees here, with winds just under 10mph and no rain. There were chevron-shaped, cross-hatching currents to the east, moving north. Another small group, also from Woolwich, arrived mid-afternoon for a quick tour of the tower and museum before returning to the cove, ahead of darkening skies which ultimately produced no rain on the island. Dave and John continued to work until 6pm, a thirteen-hour workday, at which time they started packing up their weekend-long effort. Chris and I helped to carry some of their personal belongings down to the cove and, as they were loading John’s dinghy, we all saw two USGC helicopters fly around the perimeter of the island before returning to their flight over water. We watched as Dave and John rowed out to their respective crafts, loaded their tools and belongings, set motor and sail, and headed home. Sensational job, thank you!
July 22, 2019 Day Fifty-Two Our usual early start to the day, with Chris up and about ahead of me, also as usual. While he cleaned the Clivus and surveyed the pick-up necessary around the whistle house reroofing site, I finished inserting photos into this past week’s blog, and sent it off to Cyndy for posting. By that time, Chris was off mowing in the cove area and then moved on to weed-whack the Cobblestone Trail. Two visitors who’d sailed in from Cape Cod arrived late morning, and started their island tour at the museum before moving on and up to the tower. The sultry early morning air was replaced by cooling breezes from the N/NE and, with skies increasingly overcast, we felt that the day’s forecasted afternoon rain would come to fruition. It did, starting shortly after noon, but was short-lived. After lunch, three men coming in from Georgetown arrived, visited the tower and, after initiating a robust conversation about getting the light operational again via solar, returned to the cove to motor-sail back to Georgetown with almost dead-in-the-water winds. The rain started in earnest around 5pm, with no let up on the horizon. We harvested kale from the garden for the second night in a row, six weeks after planting, and enjoyed our second kale-based salad accompanied by fresh herbs hand-delivered from our visiting friends’ garden. The squash we planted in June never germinated and several weeks ago, Chris planted beans in the former squash mounds and they appear to be doing well. We just don’t know if they will be ready to harvest before we leave the island in early September! Our last bit of garden news is that we now have a volunteer dill plant in the mix. A new bird observation: robins, the first we’ve seen on island!
July 23, 2019 Day Fifty-Three News Flash! Early morning queue at the Clivus! No, not Chris and me but the Cape Cod sailors who’d moored in the cove overnight, waiting for a wind to sail off. With no motor to supplement their travels, and using paper charts versus electronics, they were truly wind-dependent. When Chris returned to the cove late morning, they were gone, having caught the necessary wind to move on to Southport, their next destination, he to do an inventory of additional on-site materials for the whistle house roofing project and me to resupply the Clivus. We saw a 15+ flock of Canadian geese in the cove, on the sand and in the water. It didn’t take long for us to discover that they’d spent considerable time on the grass around the donkey engine shed and Clivus, so we spent some time picking up there and from the steps down to the cove. Ugh. A 26’ Duffy came into the cove as I was heading back up the trail and, about thirty minutes later, we greeted this group of eight who’d come up from New Meadows River/Dingley Island. All family members, three of whom are professional pilots, they currently hail from Maine, California and North Carolina. Chris took them up into the tower, and then they visited the museum before casting off on their return trip. The sun came out during their visit – right on forecasted time – which should help to dry things out before the Maine Island Trail Association volunteers come out with tomorrow’s Wednesday Warriors to do some on-island trail work that requires more than we two can accomplish in light of our hosting and maintenance duties.
July 24, 2019 Day Fifty-Four Today we enjoyed two unexpected connections to the Netherlands. The first was an early morning email from a friend who hails from the Netherlands. The second was a couple we met in the cove while waiting to go ashore. They had sailed to North America from the Netherlands, almost two years ago, and were on their way south from Canada when they moored overnight at Seguin Island. This adventurous couple, accompanied by their cat, plan to sail for three more years, down the eastern seaboard, into the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, and then up the Pacific Coast. While in the cove, we saw the fallen gull chick still alive and appearing well, walking and hopping with wings spread in and around the rocks. We were relieved to see an adult gull feeding it still, hopefully enhancing its chances for survival until it can fully fly. Caveat hospes! The geese are back, as well as their leave behinds, too numerous and now too frequent to dispose of, so please, watch where you step from the cove to the Clivus to the base of the Lighthouse Trail! We can only hope that what’s attracting them will dissipate quickly and we won’t have to watch our steps! Until then… In order to accommodate the welcomed efforts of the Maine Trail Association Island (MITA) and Wednesday Warrior volunteers, we took an abbreviated shore leave today and still accomplished everything on our to-do list, including our first auto gas fill-up since coming to the island! Their collective efforts were entirely worth our shortened day ashore, and the results will last even longer! Not only did they trim around the base of the tram, their “usual” annual contribution, they also cleaned up in and around the roofing site and installed the wood – previously brought out by Chris and the Outward Bound crew – in the marshy portion of the loop trail off the North Trail. Thank you for your gift of time and hard work! Shortly after we returned with friends visiting from Connecticut, we greeted a couple who had sailed here from Lake Ontario, through the Erie Canal and now down the coast of Maine, stopping to overnight at Seguin Island. Captain Ethan kindly accommodated our friends’ request for fresh lobster by leaving a crate “moored” in the cove. So before it got too late, we all returned to the cove and our friends watched Chris and me row out in the dinghy to collect the crustaceans and bring them back to shore for dinner. Our first, and likely last time faux lobstering!
July 25, 2019 Day Fifty-Five Chris enjoyed early morning coffee company this morning with our Connecticut friends. After breakfast, he went out to see MITA’s trail work while I journaled for the blog. Then Chris went to work on the oil house door, which is hard to open and close, and was joined in the project by one of our visiting friends. A family of seven came in from Ragged Island with their dog, toured the tower and museum, and had a picnic at the table below the tower. Captain Ethan arrived with island visitors, including two solar company representatives assessing the site for installation with FOSILS executive director, Cyndy. While we are delighted at the movement towards solar, and all visitors who invest in coming to the island, today’s ferry brought several very special visitors: two women who are descendants of Herbert L. Spinney, who served as Assistant Keeper from 1893-98, and as Keeper from 1903-07, and perhaps as well, the five different Spinneys who served at Seguin from 1861-66. And if that weren’t enough, we were privileged to meet David Grindell, the USCG Assistant Keeper on Seguin Island from 1966-68. He gave Chris three pieces of his original USCG paperwork relative to his time here, and we have placed them in a safe place until they can be properly displayed in the museum. David, who was accompanied by his wife and another couple, said that the foghorn operated 549 hours in July 1967! If you figure that there are 744 hours in the month of July, that means that the foghorn was in use almost 74% of July that year. Whew! So glad that that isn’t the case this July, though possibly June? Such a swell day, in so many ways!
July 26, 2019 Day Fifty-Six Our first visitors of the day were a lobsterman and his son from Boothbay. They’d moored in the cove overnight – we’d visited with them briefly last evening – and had returned to see the museum and tour the tower, while sharing that they’d seen a Minke whale from the cove! Next came a couple from Massachusetts who had kayaked in from Georgetown. Captain Ethan brought a woman from Phippsburg, a first time visitor to the island; a mother and young daughter from Montréal; and a family from Vermont. Also aboard was a truly extended family – both by relation and country – from the US, England, Spain and Germany. A prior visiting summer resident bearing treats, thank you very much, returned with summer neighbors from New Zealand. A couple sailed in from Essex, Connecticut, followed by three men in from Muscongus Bay, past Boothbay, including one with whom we’d had an extended conversation during a visit to Maine’s First Ship in Bath. Small world!
July 27, 2019 Day Fifty-Seven We enjoyed a quiet morning with our soon-to-be-leaving-the-island visiting friends. As we ate an early lunch on the front porch, we watched a half dozen boats head into the cove. Shortly thereafter, we started greeting a stream of visitors, most coming in from their nearby vacation abodes from home bases ranging from New York City to San Francisco, plus Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Minnesota, and a family currently living in Norway! Later in the day, three researchers motored in from neighboring Pond Island. In addition to their touring the museum and tower, they shared their efforts to monitor, record, and boost the tern population there, including their active but humane efforts to discourage gulls from the island as well as trapping and relocating the Great Horned owls that come to dine on the terns. They were followed by two related families in from Falmouth, and another vacationing family including a Florida woman who has been visiting the island since childhood. Around 4pm, Chris dinghied our visiting friends out to their ride back to shore – wonderful visit, thank you! Then an early dinner followed by up top mowing, completed just before dark.
July 28, 2019 Day Fifty-Eight Chris and I headed out early this morning to pick some wild blueberries and red raspberries for the pancakes Chris made after we returned. Yum! While he was preparing breakfast, I went outside to raise the flag and saw a small flock of tree swallows gathered on the roof of the main house. This was interesting because they’d all seemed to have vacated the Wood duck house and the air space around our quarters within days of our seeing the fledglings being fed at one of the entrances to the Wood duck house. Like the ripening berries, the maturation of the gull chicks in the cove, and the changing movements of these closely watched birds are indicative of the even more subtle changes through the summer season. Chris spent the remainder of the morning weed-whacking, follow-up clean-up to last night’s mowing, while I caught up on my journaling here. He saw several boats entering the cove shortly before noon, a good indicator of visitors to come, and come they did! I lost track after the first family of four visiting from Kentucky, followed by folks from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, Bath and Woolwich; the latter from the returning Bayliner first mentioned in my July 21 entry. After lunch, a Massachusetts family of six coming in from Boothbay commented on their rough ride out; a combination of wind and low tide, creating a significant white-capped chop which from our top-of-the-island observation point, seemed to intensify into the late afternoon. Our last arrivals of the day were a couple and their dog, coming in from Phippsburg to camp for the night, our first campers of the season! After our initial visit, we had the opportunity to visit with them on two more occasions: the first as they were returning from their North Trail hike; the second, as they were returning to their campsite after watching the sun set from the “Sunset Bench.”
July 29, 2019 Day Fifty-Nine There was a blanket of sea mist on the water when we awoke this morning, and we watched it clear on our morning berry sampling hike. After we returned and had breakfast, Chris changed the oil and filters in the big generator and also the smaller “CatGen.” Then we headed down to the cove to clean, rake and resupply the Clivus. Chris moved on weed-whack the Lighthouse Trail and, after a lunch break, mowed the area above the cove while I inserted photos in the blog before sending it off for Cyndy to post. Mid-afternoon, a couple from Wiscasset and Anchorage, AK with a friend from Massachusetts – all first time visitors – arrived to spend the night in the cove…after hiking the trails and touring the museum and tower. We had five boats moored overnight in the cove, including a gundalow that looked suspiciously like the vessel that previously brought a group from Outward Bound (see July 12 entry.)
July 30, 2019 Day Sixty The Outward Bounders were confirmed early in the morning when Chris encountered one of the instructors on the Lighthouse Trail. This was an older group than before – 16 to 20 year old students – with two instructors. They hailed from California to the Carolinas and points in between and, like the previous group, had launched from Spruce Head on Wheeler Bay though the base is still frequently referred to as Hurricane Island, after the original Outward Bound location. Due to the timing of their phone message notification, we weren’t expecting this group as we did their predecessors, so punted on a couple of service projects for them: significant trimming around the oil house to facilitate fully cleared access all the way ‘round the building, as well as some hand-trimming along the North Trail; always needed as foliage continues to gravitate towards and grow into the open, sunlit spaces of the cleared trails. Chris and I were unable to listen in on their landside “leave no trace” lesson as we greeted additional visitors, including three from New Hampshire who’d stopped en route from Portsmouth to Monhegan Island. They too had moored overnight in the cove on a sailboat named, most appropriately, “Seguin Light.” I’ve requested a photo of their stern with the island’s namesake, and will post it upon receipt! Captain Ethan brought an extended family of 23 over on the Leeward, one of whom had crossed the Atlantic in 17 days on a 32’ Bavaria. This three generational gathering brought together family members currently living in Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Montana, Rhode Island, Montréal, and Paris! Our last visitors of the day were the captain & crew of a vessel on the racing circuit.
July 31, 2019 Day Sixty-One They’re flying! As we readied the dinghy to go ashore, we saw the two remaining gull chicks making short flights between the rocks, and out to the water and back! Raising young mission accomplished, with full credit to Mother Nature! Once on the mainland, we did our usual shore leave errands plus had the pleasure of meeting up with another family member who was coming to join us on the island overnight. Oh, and finally had our first ice cream of the season too – an exclusively mainland treat! Speaking of treats, Captain Ethan treated us to a circumnavigation of Seguin Island upon our return. Totally amazing! While we’ve seen the photographs of the island from the sea – I sell them in the form of postcards and notecards in the gift shop – seeing it firsthand was an entirely and wonderfully different experience. Thank you, Captain Ethan! When we returned to the cove and prepared to dinghy back to the island, we saw a grayish-white seal on the rocks in the cove. Before that, I didn’t know that seals came in any other “color” besides black. Something new everyday!
August 1, 2019 Day Sixty-Two We enjoyed a blessedly quiet morning with our visiting family member, our first visitors of the day arriving late morning aboard the Leeward. The first to top the hill was a couple from Boulder, Colorado who attributed their quick climb up the trail to their mountain conditioning. Next were a family-friends group of seven from Maine and Vermont, followed by a group of 20: five medical school colleagues, their spouses and children who had gathered from California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Oregon. They were joined by sailing freelancers from Boothbay and New Hampshire, and a family of six from Ft. Worth, Texas. Then we bade our family visitor farewell to return on the ferry. Thank you for coming! We’re already looking forward to your return later this month! After the ferry and other visitors left, we had a bite of lunch followed by a relatively quiet early afternoon. Later in the day, we greeted a half dozen freelance visitors on three different vessels: a motorboat, a trimaran, and a sailboat. The latter two will be overnighting in the cove tonight!
August 2, 2019 Day Sixty-Three With lots on the agenda today: the installation of the new propane stove and Captain Ethan’s ferry this morning; and campers coming tonight, Chris was out weed-whacking the entrance to the South Trail and I was catching up here by 7am. Good thing too as our first freelance visitors of the day, a couple from New Hampshire and their lab, arrived before 8am. In short order, they were succeeded by a couple from Massachusetts; a group of four and their two labs from Phippsburg, New Jersey, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles; and others from those states as well as Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. One visitor watched from the top of the tower as a gull descended onto the picnic table, removed the wrapping from the unfinished sandwich he’d left unattended there, and swallowed the remainder in one gulp! While acknowledging that he knew better than to leave food unattended, he said the sight was worth the loss! Late in the day, three men arrived by kayak to overnight on the island and to take photographs of the Milky Way rising above the tower. Chris and I had all good intentions to observe their evening photography efforts, but were overcome by sleep shortly after they set up their equipment. Happily, the photographer said that he would share his shots with FOSILS so hopefully, we’ll all be able to see them at some point in the future. Beside the kayaks, we had three boats in the cove overnight: two sailboats and one cabin cruiser. For some time now, I’ve been assembling ideas for an entry on modern day seafarers ranging from day-trippers to those living at sea. Watch for it soon!
August 3, 2019 Day Sixty-Four We enjoyed a first thing in the morning visit from the photographer and company, up to shoot some additional shots in daylight. Shortly after they left, we greeted three separate couples from Montréal and Newburyport – all repeat visitors – as well as first time visitors from Plymouth, New Hampshire. The opportunity to converse with people from different parts of the US, and the world, is one of the highlights of our being here! Midday, the temperatures dropped to the mid-60s, the skies became overcast, and the winds picked up which tempered the flow of visitors for the rest of the morning. Two men from the Boston area arrived early afternoon, still under persistent winds but with some sunshine despite the increasing haze. With a slowdown in visitors, we decided to start our Saturday night up top mowing “date” early so we could take the night off. After finishing a bit past 5pm, we went down the hill to check the Clivus ahead of Sunday’s ferry tour, and greeted a family of four from Minnesota, three weeks into their year-long sail. When they told us that they might moor here several nights, we invited them to hike the trails and to return in the morning for a tour of the tower and museum. That worked well as they appeared ready to have some run-around time on land, which also accommodated their kids’ desire to fly their long-tailed kite. We had the pleasure of watching both – the winds were perfect – as we started our evening with a drink.
August 4, 2019 Day Sixty-Five Frustrated by short-lived shim solutions and determined to stabilize the north porch main house stairs for once and for all, Chris was at this self-appointed project by 7am this morning, and declared it fixed – and repainted too, of course – by 8am. A couple from the Boston area, coming in from the Basin/New Meadow River, arrived just ahead of Captain Ethan and a fully loaded Leeward. Two couples from Houston, by way of Georgetown, were the first to arrive, followed by a family of five from Durham, Maine, near Freeport. Two separate large groups came in from Smallpoint, one based in Washington, DC. Speaking of Washington, one visitor with one of the Smallpoint groups told me that she’d seen the original deed to the Seguin Island lighthouse signed by George Washington himself! For those readers who may not already know, George Washington, yes, THE George Washington, commissioned the Seguin Island lighthouse during his second term of office. However, to the best of our knowledge, he never slept here. Anyway, she said that a Connecticut antiques dealer was offering it for sale for $12,000 and she still had his card. I encouraged her to share that information with FOSILS which she said she would, adding that she knows some members. Wouldn’t that be something if the dealer would donate that document to FOSILS? Freelance visitors continued to flow onto the island after the ferry left, including a group of nine sailing students in from New Hampshire, three from Popham Beach, and another large group who arrived at 6:30pm. Since they said they were local, we invited them to return another time for a tower tour.
August 5, 2019 Day Sixty-Six Today was filled with freelance visitors: adults, children and dogs, steadily coming and going between 9am and 7pm. The states of Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and on the helicopter landing pad, an obvious surprise to the bride-to-be and, if measured by the post-proposal reactions, to most of the multi-generational people in their party as well. The day concluded with six sailboats moored in the cove overnight, providing a perfect segue to my promised piece on modern day seafarers from the perspective of primarily land-based travelers like Chris Pennsylvania, as well as the District of Columbia were represented by newcomers and repeat visitors, some here “just” for a beautiful day’s outing and others to see and learn the history of Seguin Island. We unexpectedly witnessed a joyfully accepted wedding proposal and me. During our time on Seguin years at sea, who sailed to North America from the Netherlands (see July 24 entry.) Then there’s the Minnesota couple and their Island, we’ve met for the first time, people who regularly board, travel and/or live in their boats, for pleasure or for commerce, the way Chris and I “board” our vehicle and, with or without RV in tow, “sail” across the land. Wow, who knew? From day-trippers exploring the high seas for weekend pleasure, to those who may live on their boats in lieu of a house, to retirees, like the couple who sailed up from the Keys while collecting a grandson en route (see July 2 entry,) to those like the couple, two years into their five two children, just weeks into a year of living and schooling at sea…the culmination of their ten year plan for this adventure (see August 3 entry.) We query them all, within reason, about everything ranging from their motivation – “We have to live somewhere, why not our boat which provides a changing ‘backyard?’” – to the logistics of shopping and doing laundry, accomplished via bike, bus, Uber or the kindness of locals providing rides to and from the marina. Despite their requisite seafaring skill-sets, which we don’t have, we feel a great kinship to these fellow voyagers, eager to discover what’s over the next swell.
August 6, 2019 Day Sixty-Seven We saw the first of the six sailboats moored overnight sailing out beyond the cove before 7am; the remainder left by 10am. Captain Ethan brought a number of visitors today including a man from Seattle whose father’s ashes had been spread off Seguin Island 45 years ago; two women intent on hiking all of the trails and foregoing the lighthouse and museum to accomplish same; a group of six from Michigan; three from Maine with a dog; a couple from New York City; and two couples from Bath and New Hampshire, also with a dog. A group of seven from New Hampshire and their dog arrived as the ferry was leaving, and kindly gave us time to finish our lunch before touring the tower and museum. Already alert to the change in weather forecasted for tomorrow and Thursday – precipitation and high winds – they cut their visit short to return to the mainland. The skies progressively filled with clouds as the seas continued to gray, reflecting the overcast skies. By bedtime, the sky was filled with storm clouds and the ocean sounded loud and looked sullen.
August 7, 2019 Day Sixty-Eight We awoke to an island submerged in fog, and motored to Ft. Popham still embraced in its chill. Once ashore, the fog lifted and the gray sky gave way to spritzes of sunshine as we drove inland. It was warm and sunny by the time we completed our last errand in Bath and returned to Ft. Popham for our ride back to Seguin. Due to the timing of today’s shore leave, we were able to enjoy a brief stop and visit with the staff at the Popham Library for the very first time, having had the pleasure of using Bath’s Patten Library on multiple occasions. What treasures! We always stop at the local library during our travels, and are never ever disappointed. As we passed Pond Island, we noted the absence of the researchers’ tent and hanging laundry, recalling their intent to vacate in a week’s time after their visit to Seguin (see July 27 entry.) Upon our return to the island, we discovered more sun in direct defiance of the forecasted rain. Thanks to Captain Ethan’s donation of a dolly, and Chris’ restorative TLC of same, we now have additional help to bring our water, groceries, and laundry up to the main house from the cove, well-loaded, in one trip!
Rain started at 6pm, only an hour “behind” the forecast, and continued until ….
August 8, 2019 Day Sixty-Nine The rain resumed by 7am this morning but by midday, we were enjoying brilliant sunshine. Chris adjusted the burners on the new propane stove so the flame matches the setting. Here’s his first propane stove bread: Norwegian Whole Wheat!
Late this afternoon, we headed out to pick mostly blueberries and the few remaining raspberries we found along the North Trail. Blueberry crumpets are in the offing…
Then we went down to the Cobblestone Trail, arriving at high tide with pounding waves and shaving cream-like froth thrown against the rocks with each sea surge: primal power incarnate. Chris retrieved a small bench that someone had placed there, concerned that it would be swept away in the winter storms to come. His intention was to make any necessary repairs and relocate it to the South Trail vista where it will be safe(r) from winter’s whims. The water in the cove was similarly roiled, with waves falling just short of the FOSILS dinghy stern, so we weren’t surprised that no one had come in to moor overnight. We were unhappily surprised, however, to see a big pile of dog poop right by the stairs down to the cove, just a few steps from where poop collection bags are available for use by those who don’t BYOBags for that purpose. It would have been difficult for the dog’s owner to miss the “deposit” due to its location, especially if the dog was leashed as requested while on-island, a designated bird sanctuary. Dog owners, please help us to keep Seguin Island a clean, welcoming place by collecting and taking your dog’s waste with you!
August 9, 2019 Day Seventy An early morning text from Captain Ethan confirmed our suspicion that today’s ferry trip would be cancelled, as was yesterday’s, both in the interest of passenger safety, always paramount. Thursday’s trip was cancelled due to weather and winds; today’s due to leftover seas from yesterday. He may go tomorrow instead, pending his review of tomorrow’s forecast tonight. After his morning coffee, Chris headed to the whistle house to sturdy-up and paint the recovered bench Seguin Island Red. As the paint was drying, he returned to the house to prepare crumpets for breakfast. A first-time recipe, he decided to forego the addition of yesterday’s picked berries to be able to exclude them from any post facto recipe troubleshooting. We’ll come up with an alternative plan to enjoy them! Our first visitors of the day, a group of eleven in from Southpoint, arrived close to 1pm, fully focused on eating their picnic lunch before visiting the tower or museum. Next up was another large group of twelve, in from Bath and coming from Connecticut and New York City, for a picnic, cartwheels, focused fairy-house building (see below,) and tower and museum sights.
These two groups were followed by a more sedate group of five in from West Bath and Augusta, who intently toured the tower and museum. After the visitors left, Chris hoisted the now dried newly red bench on his shoulder and together, we took the short walk to place it in its new home overlooking the South Trail vista. Nice!
From there, we went down to check the activity in the cove and found a moored houseboat rocking in the waves there. We returned to the main house for dinner and, as I was finishing my turn at the dishes, Chris headed outside to shut off the generator, encountering two men who’d come in on a 17’ Whaler from Matinicus Island to take photos from the island at sunset. They shot and left quickly, barely ahead of incoming weather to the S/SE, complete with lightning, with same from Georgetown to the NE. Despite the afternoon flurry of visitors, we had enjoyed a full day and a half of on-island time all to ourselves, a restorative change of pace, marred only by the fact that out-of-state family and friends were precluded from their long-planned visits when both the Thursday and Friday ferry runs were wisely cancelled.
August 10, 2019 Day Seventy-One News Flash! Osprey fledglings buzz the tower, with their parents no less! After mowing the cove early this morning, Chris took two Maine-based sea kayakers in from Popham on a tour of the tower. While on the tower catwalk, he witnessed the four Osprey fly-by, apparently part of their flight-training mission. In short order, the kayakers were followed by a group of five from Colorado, Iowa, and Maine; and they by a group of four from southeastern Massachusetts in from Southport. Three from Boston and the Netherlands, by way of Bath, came next, followed by four up from Freeport, Seguin being their first stop en route to Mt. Desert Island. Unforecasted rain started up at 2:30pm, stemming the tide of visitors almost for the remainder of the day. Fortunately, we’d already decided to shift our Saturday night mowing “date” to Sunday in anticipation of overnighting family visitors the next two Saturdays. The rain served to seal the deal. We became aware of a yacht race of cruisers from Portland and back when we saw two men rush pass the house with cameras in hand. We went out and learned they were marine photographers seeking to shoot the boats as they rounded the red bell buoy off the south coast of the island, visually “just beyond” the whistle house. They left the island almost as quickly as they’d come and shortly afterwards, we saw them in a fast moving motorboat, coming from the northwest and heading towards the yachts. We went down to the cove shortly after that to check on campers we were expecting to overnight on the island campground. The cove waters were the most roiled we’d ever seen them as we watched the campers off-load their gear onto their pitching dinghy and come ashore. In fact, the skipper-dad of one of the campers said that if he hadn’t caught a mooring, they’d have been driven into the rocks! Happily, that didn’t happen, so after they set-up at camp, they all came up to watch the sunset.
August 11, 2019 Day Seventy-Two We made a jar of jam first this morning from the berries we’d picked Thursday.
Then Chris started to repair and reinforce the tower door to the catwalk, with the intention of completing the task before the day’s first visitors arrived. No such luck as three men who moored in the cove at sunset last night, after our early evening visit, came up for a tower tour just as Chris was climbing the stairs with tools and screws in hand. Then came last night’s skipper-dad and campers for a tour of the tower and museum visit, followed by another mooring-at-sunset couple from Massachusetts, and a couple and young son from Kennebunk by way of Georgetown. Intrepid roofing volunteer, John, and a half dozen friends stopped en route to Portland, arriving at the same time as Captain Ethan on the Leeward. Sorry we weren’t able to accommodate your guests with a tower tour within your timeframe, John! Coming in from the ferry were five unconnected couples in from Providence, Portland with pup, Alabama and Dallas, Dresden, and Pittsburgh, and an assembled family gathering in from Bath, having come in from Atlanta and New Jersey. More freelancers, like John, started arriving towards the end of the ferry time on island. With the exception of one couple from Connecticut, the six other groups came in from points in Maine, including three of our northern neighbors from Toronto and New Brunswick. One Portland-based couple, in for their first visit, commented that word has to get out about Seguin Island in Casco Bay, and they were going to do it!
August 12, 2019 Day Seventy-Three Only one boat moored in the now pond-like cove overnight. Enough of a chill in the air to welcome a hot bowl of cooked oatmeal for breakfast. A harbinger of fall temperatures or merely the vagaries of coastal Maine temperatures in August? With grass growth continuing to slow, we played some mowing hooky by moving our once-already-moved Sunday mowing to this morning after the sun had dried most of the dew. Well, Chris did the hand-mowing this morning and I did the Gravely zero-turn mowing late afternoon when all of the day’s visitors had left. After finishing mowing, Chris hand-trimmed the head-height overhead branches on the Lighthouse Trail, leaving the bower effect intact. Before noon, we watched the sailboat that had moored overnight motoring towards the southeast, sails still furled. Right after that, we saw a motorboat coming in from the northwest, bringing a couple from Boothbay stopping for their annual visit. A Washington, DC family of eight, in from Southport, came next, picnicking, hiking, and touring the tower and museum. Next was a couple, their son, his friend, and their two dogs in from their Georgetown residence. Longtime visitors to Seguin, she recounted their different visit experiences with different keepers over the past twenty years’ time. Insightful! We had an introduction to life on the Isle of Springs from a subsequently arriving couple and his father, also longtime visitors to Seguin Island. And then a couple en route from Falmouth to Ebencook, adjacent to the Isle of Springs, arrived in their cutter-ketch with two recently arrived high school exchange students, one from the Czech Republic and one from Italy. Our last visitor of the day, who also moored overnight in the cove, was a man in from Herman Island who’d stopped in more than a week ago, this time with his girlfriend from South Portland. He was very happy to retrieve the radio antenna cover he’d lost while hiking on his previous visit, recovered over the weekend by another visitor who gave it to us. Before going to bed, I took a quick look-see for the Perseid meteor shower, albeit ahead of the optimal viewing time, but did not catch it then or early the next morning. Sigh.
August 13, 2019 Day Seventy-Four By 7am, Chris had had two cups of coffee, a piece of toast, and was off to the North Trail loop carrying an additional 2 x 8 x 10 board to extend the walkway further into the marshy portion of the trail. Despite the skies looking more ominous than the forecast, I went ahead and cleaned the museum displays ahead of today’s ferry tour. In fact we saw and felt rain at 9:30am but happily, it was short-lived and Captain Ethan’s ferry passengers were able to stay dry. First up from the ferry was a cranberry etymologist from Cape Cod, followed by a mother-daughter duo from Wisconsin with a college connection to Captain Ethan. Our remaining visitors du jour were all from our neighbor to the north: two women from southern Quebec, just over the Vermont border; a couple from Montréal; and a couple with their two daughters and family dog, in from a town between Montréal and Ottawa. Bienvenue! We had no more visitors for the remainder of the day, so we spent the first part of the afternoon preparing for an extra long day of shore leave tomorrow – thank you Wednesday Warriors! – and the late afternoon checking the blackberry ripening status on the trails despite threatening rain. While hiking, we saw a sailboat head into the cove, and as we returned from visually confirming that they had moored for the night, the rain finally let loose, resulting in a mist-laden sunset.
August 14, 2019 Day Seventy-Five Big doin’s on Seguin today! In addition to the Wednesday Warriors working their to-do list, roofers came out to complete the whistle house roof, and Cyndy led the Maine Maritime Museum tour and covered for Chris and me in the tower and museum. The combination of those events resulted in our having an extra long day of shore leave which gave us the time we needed to run our errands; also to indulge in some area explorations based on a listing I’d compiled of recommended places-to-see from the many visitors to Seguin. From Brunswick, we drove down on Rt. 123 to Harpswell which, we’d been told, has the most coastline of any city in Maine. More on that in a minute. Then we cut across on Mountain Road to Rt. 24 and headed south to Orrs Island (no apostrophe missing) where we crossed the Cribstone Bridge onto Bailey Island, triggering a subsequently confirmed boyhood recollection of Chris’ family vacationing there. The bridge, built in in 1928, was constructed of long, narrow slabs of granite stacked on top of one another in criss-cross fashion with spaces in between, designed to allow the 1122’ span to withstand both the tides and winds. It is reported to be the only granite cribstone bridge in the world. Before turning back north at the south end of the island, appropriately named Land’s End, we saw a lighthouse on a island “just” offshore. We later determined we’d seen Halfway Rock, so named because the former Coast Guard, now privately owned light station is halfway between Cape Elizabeth and Cape Small on a two acre ledge in Casco Bay. We continued north on Rt. 24 before coming to the turn-off for Cundy’s Harbor, home to the Holbrook working waterfront consisting of the Holbrook House, general store, deep-water wharf and grille, and gallery. As working volunteers focused on non-profits, we were intrigued to learn that this area is, like Seguin Island, owned and operated by a non-profit organization. The Holbrook Community Foundation formed in 2006 to preserve the property which was for sale and at risk for development as a private residence. As I sat to write this entry with my notes and map in hand, I realized that all of the area we visited yesterday is part of Harpswell, providing insight as to why this town has so much coastline! We drove back to Brunswick at the conclusion of this exploration, and stopped to visit the Bowdoin College Museum of Art offering an amazingly diverse collection of art, in all media, from BCE to the present. Well spent after ten hours ashore, we returned to the cove, welcomed by the two still-growing gull chicks and a sailboat flying Sweden’s flag; later joined in the cove by a trimaran.
August 15, 2019 Day Seventy-Six Tweet, tweet, the original version!: The whistle house roof is finished! Thanks to a solid start provide by FOSILS volunteers Dave & John, the crew from Guerette Woodworking was able to complete the job yesterday while we were ashore
We had a fast and furious flow of visitors today, all within a short span of time. A family of six from Freeport was followed by another family of six from Phippsburg, both right before Captain Ethan arrived with a ferry-full, just as another group came in from the Small Point Summer School. With so much activity at one time, I quickly lost my usual count of most everyone’s origination city-state beyond Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington, DC. Freelancers continued to come and go until 3:30 when we finally stopped for a bite of lunch. As always, the people who come here are the highlight, and today was no different. In addition to a much anticipated visit from a family member and friend – thanks for coming, wish we had more time together! – Chris met and visited with a couple who knows long-time friends of his. Even in an increasingly shrinking world, what are the chances of that? We also met a couple who’d been selected as Seguin Island summer keepers some years back who had had to bow out at the last minute for personal reasons. It was obvious that they’d been keeping up with current happenings here and were hopeful that they might be able to be keepers sometime in the not-too-distant future. We hope it works out! I also had an opportunity to visit with the woman who operates the Small Point Summer School and learned about that and her “Seeds of Independence” focus during the Brunswick school year.
August 16, 2019 Day Seventy-Seven We were socked in by fog when we got up early this morning which, with steady winds and gusts too, progressively lifted by late morning. At 10am, we welcomed a family visiting from Bath. Within thirty minutes, a family of 14 gathered from California, Colorado, Idaho, Virginian and Washington, DC arrived on three boats from Prouts Neck. Then we had an opportunity to meet and visit with a fellow nomad who travels both the high seas and the highways. Captain Ethan arrived with Friday’s tour, carrying a preponderance of unrelated visitors from New York City and state. More freelancers followed the ferry’s departure, including a couple from Freeport and a family of seven from Virginia. Late in the afternoon, our scheduled Friday-Sunday campers arrived, as did car-trouble-delayed family visitors, thanks to Captain Ethan. While we were waiting to ferry them ashore, the gray and mottled gull chicks graced as with their flyover and stationary presence.
August 17, 2019 Day Seventy-Eight Hats off to all the visitors who’ve made donations and/or purchases of Seguin Island swag to support the activities of FOSILS, the non-profit organization that owns and operates Seguin island with an all-volunteer workforce, including us, except for executive director, Cyndy Carney who, we think, puts in a lot of volunteer time too!
Colder temps, winds and gloomy skies served to delay but not stop the flow of Saturday visitors. Our camping visitors progressively came up starting at 11am, followed by a family of four sailing back to Portland from Mr. Desert Island. A returning couple from Falmouth, this time with a friend from Vermont were next, just ahead of a family of 12, plus a dog, in from Cape Cod. They spent several hours “on top,” in the tower, museum, and just enjoying the extended family gathering. NEWS FLASH! The long-term “there are no non-human mammals living on Seguin Island” mantra has been challenged, with photographic proof! You be the judge!
Posted with thanks to the weekend camper who shared her photos with us!
August 18, 2019 Day Seventy-Nine Fog again early this morning, extending through late morning, and not entirely lifting until past mid-day. Once again, no visitors were deterred as we hosted the most people to date. Our first visitors, a group of ten in from Georgetown and Baltimore by way of MacMahan Island, arrived just ahead of Captain Ethan’s ferry; an annual gathering of fishermen, fisherwomen, family and friends from the Five Islands area; and additional freelancers. To say that things at Seguin Island were really hopping is an understatement! Some of the visitors on the ferry included a family of three from Boston, complete with a Boston Terrier; a family of four from Phippsburg; a family of five from Beverley, Massachusetts; a couple from Bath here for the first time to celebrate his birthday – Happy Birthday, William! ; and another couple, in from West Bath, also their first time on the island. They were followed by ten freelancers from Georgetown and another five in from Cape Cod. Early afternoon, just ahead of the ferry departure, the folks in from Five Islands, started to arrive on top from their four boats rafted together in the cove. From 18 months on up, they were an energetic crowd enjoying the now mostly cleared views from the island, tours of the tower, visits to the museum and gift shop, and hikes all around.
One man in that gathering said that as a boy, he heard the Seguin Island foghorn from where the Sheepscot and Back Rivers split, about four and one half miles away from the north side of the island from the south-facing foghorn. We all know that sound travels well over water, but apparently, this is exceptional coverage! When the Five Islands party – and it was a party! – relocated to their rafted fleet in the cove to continue their celebrations, Chris and I took a brief lunch break before welcoming a couple from Brewer on a two and one half week sailing vacation. Arriving at the same time was the couple on the just-returned Swedish sailboat – the one we’d seen when returning from shore leave this past Wednesday – plus another couple from their home port of Göthenburg, Sweden who’d just flown in to join them for a couple of weeks. In a conversation with all three couples, we learned that the “original” couple from Sweden are full-time seafarers who’ve been sailing for two years…so far. Fog rolled in shortly after they returned to the cove where all of them were moored for the night. Within the hour, the sea was fully fog-shrouded from view, and still made its presence known through the constant sounds of the surf. As we ate dinner, we watched the fog rise higher up and fully immerse the main house.
August 19, 2019 Day Eighty: Around Seguin in 80 days! Another socked-in-with-fog morning. A Freeport-based couple sailed in from Damariscove at 11am, taking the mooring previously used by the overnighting couple from Brewer who’d sailed off earlier. By then, we could start to see the delineation between the sea and sky as the fog began to morph into mist. Within two hours, the fog was back with a vengeance, once again melding the sky and sea into one, and masking both from view. The distaff member of the seafaring Swedish couple returned up the hill to bid us adieu, and to collect some more dill from our garden, again with our full blessings! The sun had successfully bored through the fog by 3:30, but rain started two hours later, reducing the remaining fog to sea mist. At the top of the Lighthouse Trail, I discovered two shedded snakeskins and then a live viewing from an acceptable-to-me distance – that’s all that matters, right? – thankfully, the first in weeks, which is why I have been silent on the topic ‘til now. P.S. In the week that followed this entry, I narrowly and still gratefully “missed” – by no more than the thickness of a snakeskin – at least three separate snake encounters that I know of, each at different locations next to the foundation of the main house, a favored hunting spot for them, I’ve been told by those who keep snakes as pets! A week later, I came across another shedded snakeskin, even closer to the house than the two referenced above. Shudder, shudder. Anyway, since I thought it to be a better specimen and more compelling photograph, I substituted it for the twosome.
August 20, 2019 Day Eighty-One Sunshine and clear skies from the get-go this morning! Dragon or damselflies – I can’t tell them apart – floating and maneuvering to change altitudes entirely on their own, as there is no breeze to assist them. Definitely nature’s helicopters! We picked four pounds of fresh blackberries this morning. Canning, a new-to-me-taught-by-Chris experience is in the near term offing, post-pie, of course! Shortly after our early morning return from the blackberry patches, we happily received previous visitors from Montréal for an extended visit on the north porch, before the ferry arrived. In the course of our conversation, we discovered that unbeknownst to either, their neighbors had visited the island just last weekend! The ferry brought visitors from my home state of Indiana – fellow Hoosiers! – as well as from Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. A number of freelancers, first-timers and repeat visitors, several with dogs, arrived at the same time and continued to stream in for the remainder of the afternoon. Most were local – from Maine – including three young men from Portland who decided to camp here for the night to give additional space to fellow sailors who remained on their sailboat overnight. We welcomed back the first couple who introduced us to the concept of sea-faring nomads, arriving with another grandson, the older brother of their other North Carolina grandson, who was here with them in early July (see July 2 entry.) Later in the afternoon, as we were preparing to mow, we greeted two couples, one from Switzerland and the other from Peru, who stopped to see the Seguin sights while sailing by; a return visit for some but not all. Checking the cove post-mowing and before nightfall, we saw four sailboats moored overnight. To top the day off, we saw the Milky Way tonight; a rainbow-like swath of stars arcing across the sky. As we gazed upward, we heard a cacophony of crickets, harbingers of the coming fall.
August 21, 2019 Day Eighty-Two-On shore leave days in June and well into July, it seemed to be full daylight by 4am, waking us a full hour ahead of our alarm and well before technical sunrise. Now it’s still mostly dark when the alarm rings at 5am, today with just a stroke of hot pink along the eastern horizon portending the sunrise – and weather – to come. Before we headed down to the cove, we saw the increasingly dried tall grasses glinting gold in the rising sunlight. So with the reference to the hot pink on the horizon this morning, some of you won’t be surprised to read that today’s shore leave was foreshortened against the forecast of afternoon wind and weather. So just the errands this morning, ma’am, before returning to Ft. Popham midday, with gratitude for being able to be joined by family visitors who’d driven up from Virginia to come out to the island with us! On our trip back to the island, we saw a sunfish, our collective first except for Captain Ethan, of course, and slowed to watch it undulate in and around the Grasshopper. We’d heard this past weekend’s visitors talking about seeing them en route to the island, and describing how they look, but seeing them in fish was still amazing! In my opinion, their dull color and quasi-prehistoric looks don’t “match” what their name evokes. However, since they frequently swim near or at the surface of the water, maybe their moniker fits after all! We saw three sailboats and one motorized houseboat moored in the cove upon our return. Once ashore, we met the two families in the two very large sailboats from Gloucester, MA and Bristol, RI, who specifically requested that I mention them in my blog, duly accomplished! Another family of four, repeat visitors from Kittery, Maine, kindly offered to help us carry our shore leave parcels – groceries, gift shop merchandise, and our family’s belongings – up the Lighthouse Trail, saving us multiple trips. Thank you for your help and for your subsequent purchase in the gift shop. We hoped you enjoyed your night in the cove and day on-island! As the skies looked increasingly threatening, we enjoyed uninterrupted time with family for the remainder of the afternoon and on into the evening, joined by the occasional grasshopper which, Chris says, is another harbinger of fall. Rain arrived as we were preparing dinner and remained unabated until 10pm when we retired for the night.
August 22, 2019 Day Eighty-Three Now you see it, now you don’t. The sun and the fog played cat and mouse this morning until about 9am when the sun ultimately prevailed. As our guests slept in, as is their wont, Chris went blackberry-picking and I spent time with the blog here. With one family member up and about, the three of us stole away for a quick walk on the Cove Trail so I could photo-document the sculptures Chris had discovered there, following last weekend’s visitors. We believe we know who the artists may be, but absent any claim, we’ll just share their found objets d’art and let you decide!
As we were coming back on the Cove Trail, we watched the Kittery family motor out and what we later learned was a family of four from Providence, first time visitors headed to Portland, motor in on their sailboat. With Captain Ethan’s Thursday tour cancelled, our next visitors were a Boston and Paris-based family of nine, in from Phippsburg. Neighbors of Captain Ethan, some of them had been here before and for others, Seguin Island was a new venue. A couple with two dogs from Portsmouth and in from Damariscove were our next and last visitors of the day, as our expected overnight camper did not arrive. Time to make a blackberry pie!
Note the shape created by the carefully carved vents… 😉
August 23, 2019 Day Eight-Four Nature always prevails. We’d heard that a portion of the Cobblestone Trail was particularly odiferous. Now we know why: a mink (or seal’s???) mortal remains:
Photo credit and thanks to the visiting family member who took/shared it with us,!
Today’s ferry brought a Montana family with strong ties to Maine, and specifically to Seguin Island! One of the children’s grandfathers was a USCG lighthouse keeper on Seguin Island who met his wife, their grandmother, at a picnic on Seguin Island! Other ferry visitors came from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island. We were sorry to have to say goodbye to family who left with the ferry visitors. Thanks for coming, looking forward to seeing you again next month! We had a number of freelancers as well, including a couple from Vermont returning for a second visit to the island this summer; a man with his two young sons from Bath; a group of three out of Boothbay, headed to Jewel Island in the Basin; and two more groups of three, both from Massachusetts. The people who maintain the moorings arrived in between the ferry and the freelancers, leaving the sixth and last mooring for our final visitors of the day, a German couple who sailed in from Monhegan Island with the intention of visiting and overnighting in the cove.
August 24, 2019 Day Eighty-Five Seguin is a fruitful island! In addition to the raspberries, blueberries and blackberries we’ve found and enjoyed here, how about apples and pears?
In a cool, northerly wind, gusting up to 18mph, we picked another four pounds of berries first thing this morning, destined for jam, and saw for the first time, a Northern Harrier circling overhead, dodging the Tree Swallows who continually swooped down upon the hawk. Then we went down to the cove to add rope handholds to the Clivus grate to make it easier to remove for sweeping. At the conclusion of that task, we greeted a group of four who came in on paddleboards from a motorboat moored in the cove. From New York City and Orlando, they’d come in from Harpswell. They were succeeded by four men, including a set of twins, who came in from Bath. One of the twins had been a former USCG keeper at Race Rock Lighthouse on Long Island Sound. Then two men and three young children from Bethel came in by way of Brunswick, followed by a couple from New Hampshire who had sailed in from Portsmouth. They said they’d sailed past here many times and today was the day they’d decided to stop! Seven from Maine, Michigan and New Hampshire arrived next, by way of Georgetown, followed by four from Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Around 3:30pm, the first of an impressively diverse in every respect church group of fisher and lobster people from Brunswick arrived for their annual visit to the island. Combined with the freelancers who’d come earlier, this group of 85 exceeded last Sunday’s highest-to-date visitor count, totaling more than 110 visitors in one day! They picnicked, worshipped, toured the tower and museum, hiked the trails, and picked blackberries. To all appearances, they really enjoyed themselves. I even had the opportunity to meet one half of a couple who’d been married on the island! A special thanks to Captain Ethan who gave us a much appreciated heads-up about these two large groups coming to Seguin Island! A couple and their young child arrived at 6:30pm, right on the heels of the church members’ departures. When we learned that they planned to overnight in the cove, we invited them to remain to enjoy the sunset and to return in the morning to see the tower, museum and hike the trails.
August 25, 2019 Day Eighty-Six We think the four boats Chris saw moored in the cove early this morning spent a very roll-y night in the cove. The clouds that accumulated late yesterday afternoon into the evening had fully cleared by this morning, thanks to winds from the northeast gusting at 16mph and dropping temperatures into the high 50s. The same winds caused Captain Ethan to cancel today’s tour, but did not keep others in their own boats from braving the winds and coming to the island for a visit. The first up were a group of three who’d come in from Boothbay as part of one of their member’s birthdays. Then the family from last night returned. We learned they were from New Hampshire and had stopped en route to Penobscot Bay from their South Freeport mooring; also that they might change course due to the winds. Once again, nature prevails. By noon, the average wind speed was 17mph, still from the northeast. White caps abounded, careening into shore. Time for a long-sleeved shirt under my fleece! Hosting fewer visitors than expected on this otherwise sunny and beautiful day, Chris had time to change the oil in the CatGen. With less than two weeks as keepers remaining, I started to sort through our belongings to identify what we might bring ashore this Wednesday, our next and last shore leave this summer. That effort was short-lived as we greeted four visitors from Brunswick and Greene who, like the day’s predecessors, toured the tower and visited the museum. By 2pm, wind gusts had increased to 21mph, with winds now coming in from the east/southeast. A previous visitor we’d initially met at Bath’s Patten Free Library, where she works, returned with her sister-in-law and young nieces from Rhode Island. While her guests went up to the tower, she and I discussed purslane being edible and making broth from garden and other fresh veggie scraps. Speaking of the library in Bath, Chris and I will be making a presentation on our experiences as Seguin Island keepers at the Patten Free Library in Bath this Wednesday, August 28, from 6-7:30pm. We hope nearby readers can join us there! Following a walk down the Cove Trail and some contemplative time at the vista, we noted an absence of gull activity and calls. Does this mark a change in seasons? We continued down to the rocks, serenaded only by the sea sounds, then returned to the house to make blackberry jam and dinner. Jammin’ results photos coming to a blog near you soon!
APOLOGIES FOR LACK OF PHOTOS FOR THE FOLLOWING – WE ARE EXPERIENCING TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES
August 26, 2019 Day Eighty-Seven We awoke to a bright, sunny day, cool temperatures – 58°F – and easy breezes, 10mph from the northeast. Shortly after 7am, Chris headed out to the North Trail to complete the marsh walkway portion of the loop, his last big project here. There he saw more hawks he subsequently identified as Cooper’s Hawks, as well as the remains of a songbird. We think there’s a connection between that and our earlier sighting of Harrier Hawks being dive-bombed by Tree Swallows, but we don’t have the knowledge to factually corroborate that connection. We are more confident in our observations though, and our overriding one is that the island is changing; The daylight is shorter; the grasses are drying and slower growing, increasingly giving way to the rocks beneath it; the temperatures are cooler; and the winds more frequently from the north/northeast. The gulls appear to have vacated the island. Virtually vanished! Instead of being ubiquitously present, in sight and sound and at all hours of the day and night, they’re making only occasional “cameo” appearances now. In fact, we’re finding their absence and silence somewhat disorienting. Correspondingly, the sea seems bigger and the surf louder, as if to compensate for the lack of gull cries. We’re seeing more snakes now too, and think the increased sightings may be related to their having completed their skin shedding cycle. Chris saw one in the garden –he can do all the harvesting from here on out – and I saw and photographed one by the main house, folded in a sideways “u” right above the foundation granite. It’s there if you look more closely than I was willing to get to it!
All these changes portend changes for us as well. Anticipating that this week’s blog will be my last, ahead of our scheduled September 4 departure from the island, I am shifting gears from my summer-long “reporting” of our activities and visitors to focus on our observations and feelings as we conclude our summer on Seguin. August 27, 2019 Day Eighty-Eight This morning, we watched a man and a woman complete the mooring checks in the cove, to include the repositioning of those that may have shifted over the past year. The seemingly arduous task of relocating slabs of sunken granite was facilitated by the winch and chain located over an opening in the center of the relatively small, 12’ x 12’ barge from which they worked. Having no knowledge of this process beyond what we observed, they hoisted and then re-lowered any errantly located piece of granite before retying the marker buoy and catch line which sailors “capture” in order to tie their boats to the mooring. Their efforts, executed in roll-y, surf-ridden seas, make both the moorings and the boats tied to them more secure when in use.
The wind shifted to a west/southwesterly direction, with a phenomenal surf coming in from the east. Still a paucity of gulls anywhere. Second pretty day, still no visitors.
August 28, 2019 Day Eighty-Nine An atypical shore leave today with the addition of our exit interview this afternoon, our keepers’ presentation at the Patten Free Library this evening and an overnight on shore; all tangibly pointing to imminent changes for us and, in some ways, mirroring the seasonally-related changes we’re seeing and feeling on-island. As I made a mental lists of “lasts,” including making my last shore leave list of things to do; our last shore leave drinking water run and hauling back to the island, grocery shopping and laundry-doing; our last launching of the dinghy, hauling it back up the rocks, and tying it off high enough to be safe from loss at high tide; our last hauling our clean but still wet laundry up the hill and hanging it from the clothes line; and our last bread baking here, but not our last pie; and each of the subsequent days being our last on Seguin Island as this summer’s keepers, I realized – with no maudlin undertones – that these conclusions are merely making way for next times.
Returning to our presentation for a moment, we’d like to extend our thanks to Patten Library staff members and new friends, Roberta and Kathryn, who assisted us with our presentation set-up and, entirely unsolicitedly, provided refreshments! A special thanks to family members who are professional graphic artists and writers, who contributed the silent film they shot on Seguin Island to our presentation. We’d also like to thank the FOSILS board members, Cyndy, members, and others who were in attendance, including Fred, a former USCG serviceperson, referred to as a “Coastie,” who voluntarily shared with the crowd, some of his experiences from his time on Seguin island, including the ditty: “First Monhegan, then Seguin; Halfway Rock, and then your in!” (to Casco Bay.) Our thanks to all “Coasties,” past and present, who’ve faithfully served at Seguin Island and beyond.
August 29,2019 Day Ninety Another more-wind-than-weather-related ferry cancellation today, meaning no visitors since Sunday. However, we could tell from the walking sticks left at the “Stick Parking” sign up top that we’d left vacant, that people were here while we were away from the island mid-Wednesday morning until early Thursday afternoon. We also saw a sailboat with dinghy leaving the cove as we returned Thursday, so perhaps it was them, or other folks we missed while off-island. Couldn’t be helped!
August 30, 2019 Day Ninety-One Nice weather again today, and still no visitors. While this supports my intention to focus on feelings and observations here this last week on-island, it still feels strange to harbor the expectation and have no one come. At the same time, it facilitates our long-held desire to experience the island in nice weather and by ourselves, and to imagine what it would be like “just” to live here with no docent responsibilities. A USCG helicopter did a fly-by, circling the island a couple of times, close enough to suggest a landing, but they didn’t. So we read, made more blackberry jam, and then shifted to to-be-refrigerated blackberry syrup as we used up the last of the pectin.
August 31, 2019 Day Ninety-Two If old habits die hard, then new habits are even harder to sustain! Our visitor drought was broken by a gathering of 19 family and FOSILS members from New Hampshire and Massachusetts by way of Squirrel Island. They were followed by two men from New Hampshire, and then two men with their respective young sons from Boston, by way of Georgetown. In short order, we hosted three separate couples from Florida, Arizona, and very recently from Maine. The Maine couple was here to celebrate his birthday by camping overnight! Speaking of birthdays, the preceding three couples were followed by an ostensible birthday party group of 17 who’d bussed in from Portland before taking the ferry across from Ft. Popham. Ostensible, I write, because the birthday party was a foil for the real birthday girl’s brother who had covert plans to propose to his girlfriend…in the tower no less!
Towards the end of the celebration, Captain Ethan came ashore for a brief visit and was joined by roofing volunteer, Dave, and his family and a visiting friend. Shortly after everyone but the campers left, we watched as the sun gave way to nightfall. September 1, 2019 Day Ninety-Three Another beautiful day on Seguin Island, full of freelance and ferry visitors enjoying the last days of summer ahead of the coming fall. In addition to enjoyable exchanges with returned visitors, we met the sister of the woman who makes the Seguin Island cross-stitch kits, and a couple from Florida grateful to be out of Hurricane Dorian’s path. We also met a couple who reside in Brunswick…when they’re not traveling to fulfill her mission to visit 100 islands, accessible only by boat, all over the world. Seguin is #72, and she’s hoping to reach at least another ten on their trip to New Zealand in March. I have no doubt that she will make it to all 100, good luck! Try as I might, I still haven’t been able to come up with something pithy, or an otherwise worthy end to this summer’s blog…beyond gratitude for all aspects of this experience; the opportunity to connect and to contribute, and for the confidence and support we received from FOSILS, long-time and new-through-Seguin Island-friends, and family. If a picture is worth 1000 words, then as a parting shot, I offer…