Why island life?

Not just any island, offshore please. Ideally with only two occupants. Yesterday made it perfectly clear to me why I love these opportunities. In between putting up window grates and storing the multitude of benches that now reside here, I stared in awe at the sky as it constantly changed. Black clouds brought a little rain and then moved to the north.

From the vantage point of a hill atop an offshore island, and safely onshore, clouds, gloomy skies and rain are spectacular.

And you need clouds and rain to form rainbows. As we got ready for dinner, Tim saw a rainbow out front. I went out back to see it and watched it with the current, resident peregrine falcon.

Until he found something to hunt and flew off.

This is the view I wake up to from our bed looking south to mile buoy. There is also the sound of the wind, bell buoys flag halyards.

We have not seen any whales but the boat traffic is interesting. With a Marine Traffic app, many times we can identify the boats and ships we see offshore. It makes them less anonymous as they drift or cruise by.

And of course it helps that Tim and I usually enjoy each other’s company and work well together. I couldn’t do this without such an excellent partner.

Small treasures and big sky

We’ve been busy, shutting down the island in earnest. We often have helpers for a couple of days but the seas did not cooperate this year.

We still find plenty of time to enjoy all the island offers. We spent a couple of hours in the cove that other morning and I found treasures combing the beach.

I tossed this guy back into the sea because he was still alive. I found more snails cavorting and a piece of green sea glass – bingo!

It has been a wet year. The weather station recorded 100 inches of rain! Good for mushrooms.

I heard a strange bird sound the other morning and we found a pair of peregrine Falcons admiring the fresnel lens.

Wonders never cease. A few cold fronts skidded by, hence the lack of visitors, but they created interesting clouds.

And, of course, sunsets.

And sunrises.

And then he said this,

“Oma, when will you come to my house so you can sleep with me and have a campout?” And just like that, I’m crushed. I don’t know when…

So I try to distract myself instead and make things and take long walks in the woods. I’m completing a batch of quilts for the grand darlings now that they all sleep in their own beds, even if it lets them wander in the night.

Shark quilt
Elli inspecting a quilt top

And a couple for the adults as well.

Just like I “read” two books at a time (one is an audiobook), I generally have about three projects in the works: a quilt, something on the loom and a project on my knitting needles for the evenings while we watch movies.

Tencel scarf on the table loom
Hands spun, hand knit scarf

We leave soon for the Schoodic Institute in Acadia National Park for the winter. What to bring, what to bring? I’m not talking about clothing. We’ll have boots, skis and snowshoes. Oh and a bathing suit to wear in the local pool. That’s always easy.

Which of my many fiber tools? Always knitting needles. Perhaps my portable table loom with premeasured warps? Or a sewing machine? And what about my spinning wheel? Oh my.

This is the first time we can drive to a caretaker gig and it boggles my mind. No dry bags, no dinghies, no planes. I may need limits.

On island

We left the deer at home to finish eating the rest of my garden. They’ll have to pass on the geraniums though. These came from Seguin at the end of a season a few years ago.

Tim suggested we drive through the White Mountains to Maine. Then he took a nap. He woke up for the hairpin turn of the Kancamagus highway.

We enjoyed a leisurely drive and made it to Bath, ME in time for my French zoom class. I am confident Canada will let us back in one day…It was fun to have a little time to roam the town.

As predicted the wind lied down by Thurs and we took our favorite lobsterman’s boat with our gear and food to the island. The new Yeti cooler performed as advertised.

Getting the gear up the hill is always a chore but Cyndy from Friends of Seguin Island helped and it went easier than I remember. Maybe it was a good plan to backpack and build up legs prior to this trip.

And here we are.

This year, through individual contributions, Friends of Seguin Island raised more than $100,000 to convert to solar energy. And it works, even in this foggy spot.

The Island had the same caretakers for the last two seasons, Debbie and Chris, and they kept it in great shape and made several major improvements: a spanking new generator shed for the spanking new generator; a plank walkway in the North trail’s swamp; a new interesting trail and a new bench on it. . Some of this was done last summer, when the electric cable failed and they had to run a generator 4 hours a day. Hats off!

Here’s to a few more beautiful sunsets in my happy place.

Navigating

We leave for Seguin Island Lighthouse sometime over the next few days. Initial plan was Tues but by late last week, I started to watch the weather and saw strong north winds and high seas in the forecast. It still looks that way until at least late Wednesday.

This is the way it goes. We have been island caretakers for five different islands and they all have their sweet spot. North winds don’t work for Seguin because they create waves onto the rocky beach. We learned that over the years. Our first time here, the skies were blue and crisp, looked beautiful, but it came with a north wind. We waited a week.

Baker’s Island has an exposed beach and a rocky landing. Especially fun with cats. For many reasons, including the fact we don’t currently have any, we no longer travel with cats.

Shirley, Baker’s Island

Deal Island, Tasmania, in the Bass Strait, was the roughest. There’s always a west wind and you pound into waves for four hours from the east unless you catch a plane. The boat ride off island has always been lovely.

Protection Island, Washington and Five Finger Lighthouse had tides to contend with. We could only leave on a medium tide in Protection and Alaska had 25 foot tide changes so no boat could anchor nearby, it was a scramble on and off the rocks.

Alaska ferry
Alaska Quest

So while I have coffee at home in the Adirondacks, where there has been frost on the ground every morning, I check the weather update and contemplate another wet boat ride. It’s always worth it.

Just passing by

5E666643-3461-4450-B347-0B3718BC0D8B91077D2A-5E7D-4777-B575-ADB2D8F58FBEWe applied the finishing touches to the Tram Engine House yesterday and it looks spiffy. Tim did more of the ladder work than I, but groundwork has its issues too.

While we sat on the porch with the last of our cocktails, a small city floated by.

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Another popular way to leaf peep along the coast of Maine. Later, I saw another ship further off shore, both were headed downeast.

As long as it is moderately calm, lobster boats haul their traps. Last night at 03:00 there was a boat hauling traps, under the moonlight, a half mile south of the island. Maybe they had big plans for the daylight hours.

The Monarch butterflies remain in large numbers and I love when they fly in a loose swarm around me.

Now, I want you to make the sound of a plane buzzing close by; something like mmrroowww, or perhaps vrooom. This is what we heard as we made breakfast in the kitchen. We looked out and saw a small prop plane buzz our clothes line.

And of course, we’re just passing by too.

Morning has broken

And the seagulls woke up. Here’s what we woke up to on our first morning. What can you expect living in a wildlife refuge. While reading the paper, we saw an otter slide under the back porch. Sadly a starling was drying out in the woodstove, before we lit it.

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The cabin is quite cozy and in great condition.  A lot of work has gone into it.  We have a propane refrigerator and freezer, propane stove, instant hot water, a washer and dryer, a comfy bed or two, and a wood stove. I spent yesterday cleaning the interior while Tim cleaned the outside. We inspected all the fire extinguishers and smoke detectors on the island and got to know the surroundings a little better.

Our water tower is straight out of “Petticoat Junction” except there aren’t any bathing belles in it – I hope.  We can’t drink it anyway.

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We also made a first pass at cleaning bird poop off the dock. We later learned we don’t have to actually scrub it. Yippee! Nasty work. But it can get slippery.

We inspected the fleet and its fire extinguishers.  The dodge truck has grass growing out of the floor mats. Actually seeded there, not growing up from the ground. Must not see a lot of use.

 

A new(er) truck is supposed to arrive by landing craft sometime this season. More bird posts are supposed to arrive as well to deter them from landing on the roof and clattering about like Santa’s reindeer.

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The views are outstanding. Here’s the harbor side of our little cove.

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And a Google satellite view of the island. Our cabin is in the lower third.

Tim was a lucky guy yesterday.  I made pancakes, two loaves of bread and an apple pie. We’ll do a patrol today and should get some more shots but less baking.

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Preparations begin

Our departure is a month away and our thoughts point west to Alaska. I was googling Five Finger Lighthouse and came across this link about our temporary home.

Just when I have embarked on a regular running regimen, we head out to a three acre island. Three acres! 130,680 square feet or 361.5 x 361.5 feet! Oh my. That’s a lot of laps – 3.6 laps to run one mile. Luckily the island’s size doubles at low tide. I’ll have to watch out for slippery rocks.

We’ve asked the three most important questions: Is there internet service; is there cell phone service; and is there hot water? Happily, the answers are yes, yes and yes. There aren’t mosquitos or gnats but spiders were mentioned twice. Can’t be as bad as Australia’s huntsmen spiders. I hope.

We will miss prime boating season on Lake Champlain so yesterday we boarded our sailboat, Boreas, and headed up the Otter Creek in grey, misty weather to Vergennes, VT. We only hit one log in the water but this one is waiting to make the dive over the falls!

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We could hear the falls before we saw them and I’m glad we approached from the downside.

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Very dramatic.

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Final days on Seguin 2011

Our last days are full of activity. The weather is exceptionally nice and visitors arrived by ferry, lobster boat and kayaks. Lobsterman are back to their traps after several days ashore because of bad weather. And we’re closing up the house. In an effort to preserve our clothing, we were removing some things from the house, naked. We thought all visitors had left. Nope, new ones arrived. They didn’t run off so they could not have seen anything. Could they? They even offered to help.

Working harbor

Visitors heading off

Kayakers heading in

Household items heading below

Tim was in a glory because we had a scheduled burn in the cove below the tide line. He built a great little structure, burnt his New Yorkers as starter and the construction debris went up in flames and smoke. We called the fire department before we started, to prevent them from thinking the island was on fire, and left a message on their voice mail. Left a message on their voice mail?

Bonfire diminishing