Island Sense

Photographs only show one aspect of island living. From the moment we arrived, I could hear the bell buoy ringing when the waves rocked it. Today I felt, rather than saw, the fog roll in. First the sun’s warmth disappeared and then a cool dampness followed. Happily I have nothing to report about smells or tastes.

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Island work. When you can’t call a plumber, just make sure you have enough hose clamps on hand. I started the process of filling the cistern in the keeper’s quarters and found water in the pump house after I had started. Two pipes don’t quite fit together, so I adjusted things a bit and added another hose clamp to the gang.

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The system is designed to be drained but this is a bit much. And the water has so much iron in it, I couldn’t wear my shoes back in the house for all the rust in the water I stood in.

But it was another beautiful day in paradise. Yesterday we mowed, I got to ride the crazy lawn mower without a steering wheel. It takes a little getting used to but can spin 360’s effortlessly, which makes it easier to avoid hitting rocks.

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Rides sweet but is a royal pain to change the oil, which we did earlier this week. Definitely not mechanic friendly.

Look at how nice the lawn looks.

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I bet the sun will set today despite the fog.

 

 

Island visitors

Human and others. Fall migration has begun. Seguin Island is loaded with Northern Flickers. They are kind of bashful and elude my camera. Here is one sitting on the sunset bench.

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Monarch butterflies are starting to flutter through. I spotted a mink and my siting was confirmed by 3 young men in the know. Apparently it caught its own ferry here,  log, big wave? Some other critter nibbled on my bag of flax meal. The island has been without mice or rodents but at night, once the light is out, the kitchen fills with crickets. I had to go back in and turn on the light last night and had to dodge at least 15 crickets on the floor. Tim insists they ate my flax.  Hmmm.

Fair weather has also brought visitors and it is a delight to share this magical place with others. It brings joy to all who see it, especially us.

The bathtubs are shining by Seguin standards but you might dispute it if I posted a photo so just imagine pristine tubs. Being the good lighthouse keeper’s wife, I also deep, deep cleaned the refrigerator. On Tasmania, I took unusual pleasure in using the old floor waxer to polish up the linoleum.

Sunrise and sunset keeps happening. The sun is setting 18 minutes earlier than when we arrived 2 weeks ago. I can’t speak to the sunrise but I have caught it on at least a couple of occasions. Yesterday was one.

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Looks like I have to deep clean some outside cobwebs.

This morning it rose behind the clouds.

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Here are a few indirect sunset scenes.

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Happy place.

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This morning I am literally waiting for the grass to dry so I can hop aboard the Gravely mower and shear the lawn.

 

Breakfast at Popham Beach

The seagulls enjoyed it. They found lots of treats in the mud flats.

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We caught the Seguin Ferry back to the island after the party ashore Saturday night. Seas were mildly calm although surge in the cove made our landing interesting. We didn’t have a lot to carry though.

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I’ve been working on deep cleaning the caretaker’s residence. There are several standout caretakers returning this season and I want to turn over a pristine house. The iron content in the water makes the bathtub look scary. I tried comet, bartender’s friend, baking soda and vinegar. They all worked a bit, I knew I made progress, but it still looked terrible. Along came RUST. This stuff is amazing. I could even consider a bath if the water wasn’t murky brown. We’ll do some ground work today but the island is in the best shape we have ever seen it.

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The VHF weather report provided by a local lobsterman reported the seas this morning are “wicked stupid”.

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Looks good to me.

 

 

 

A steel year

We celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary today and we are going to a party! I won’t have to cook but I plan to paint the kitchen floor just before we leave. It’s Friends of Seguin Island’s annual fundraiser, Summerfest, and we’ve been asked to talk about Seguin and our other island destinations. 

I researched four leaf clovers and the odds are in your favor to find them. I feel like I found dozens as a child but spent more time lying about and looking at the grass and clover. They occur about 1/10,000 but since clover grows so densely, there should be one in a 3′ x 3′ patch. So I spent a little time the past  couple of days, no more than 30 minutes, and found this lovely genetic mutation.

  
I gave this and a “steel” multi-tool to Tim because steel is the symbol of 11 years. Interesting choice. 

We had one intrepid visitor yesterday. I missed my golden opportunity to view the northern lights. Maybe next time. Today is Maine Lighthouse Day. Come one and all!

  

It’s clean up time…

Time offshore is coming to an end and it is time to take stock. Let me report that first of all, I had EXACTLY the right amount of q tips. Who knew? Overall our food stores did great, almost nothing left over and no shortages. Going ashore definitely helped. So tomorrow is the big day when I clean the refrigerator. Today I washed the floors with a homemade linoleum solution. It better look good, I added a couple of drops of Argan oil, since I didn’t have baby oil; that stuff is worth its weight in gold. The reality of caretaking: cleaning and moving.

But first we saw the eclipse. My pinhole projector worked pretty well. As predicted, photos did not come out clearly. It was too hard to hold both the box and the camera steady and my attention wandered.   90% shadow looked like a small bite. So I started creating my own sunsets. That was fun.

 

Here is an idea of what it looked like. The shadow moved across the top of the sun.

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It was eerie. It became mildly dark, enough where I would have needed a light inside, and the temperature dropped. I did not notice the birds act differently though, probably because it never got completely dark.

This morning’s sunrise in fog was spectacular.

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Then the fog burned off and we could see Mount Baker again.

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We have been recording twice a day weather observations and it is a good chance to look at the sky.

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I’ll miss Protection Island’s vistas but look forward to hearing birds sing rather than squawk at home. After I clean the refrigerator.

 

 

Our days are numbered

They always were, the number is just getting smaller. We leave Aug 24, which is just around the corner. Before then we have to figure out how to get our bikes, and Tim’s keyboard to the shipping pick up point. We are sending them home via bike flight, which worked great getting them here.

Until then, I am bonding with the birds, deer, seals and apparently at least one elephant seal that has made its way to the island. Tim went ashore this week for the usual biathalon trip – motor boat, bike 5 miles, swim 1 mile, bike 5 miles (at least 2 downhill) and motor boat back to the island. Instead I stayed and took my usual hour and a half walk. It’s so easy to get exercise when there are no other demands for your time. Must continue this at home.

I usually spend the morning weaving and reading. Then one of us has to clean the dock, do a couple of chores, and then I walk and walk. I highly recommend it. I have been reading books by a few wonderful nature writers, they get it. Solitude and nature is therapeutic. Stopping to watch eagles soar overhead, watching how a sunrise changes in the smoky atmosphere, even watching baby seagulls spread their wings. It’s all good.

I will try to stay off the go, go, go train when I get home. Make time for things I enjoy and don’t waste time on the internet.

These are some of things I saw the past couple of days.

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Another smoky sunrise. A front is moving through today and the smoke should clear. Odd that it affected the atmosphere but it did not smell smoky.

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A pair of Larry’s.

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Smoky mountains called the Olympics.

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Wonderful clouds.

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And the new me.

Home on the range

IMG_1621where about 80 mule deer, or black tail deer, are reported to roam. We’ve seen 2 fawns and the males are sprouting fuzzy antlers. Happily there are NO deer ticks on the island. I’m so used to avoiding tall grass at home where Lyme disease runs rampant. Yesterday I combed through chest high grass for a few hours to highlight a path for a tractor that will thrash it down, without a care in the world.

The fog rolled in and we are on our own.

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In contrast to Saturday.

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Seagull shenanigans have slowed down a bit but they remain ever present.

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IMG_1608And the eagles keep a sharp lookout.

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All’s well on our home front.

After the rain

IMG_0384IMG_0385Comes a rainbow. Something else to look at other than seagulls copulating on the front lawn. It rained for about a day and a half. I got to work weaving a replacement straps for my little boat bag, which is gradually disintegrating.

That jumble of sticks and strap combined with my body makes up the loom.  I control tension by leaning forward or back. It’s been a process learning this super portable way to weave.

I can understand why people who live where the weather is always nice grow bored with it. The clouds and sky were dramatic before and after the front passed through. We had hoped to get out to watch the Race to Alaska go by but it was raining and foggy. Check it out at here. It is a boat (loosely defined) race from Port Townsend, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska, 750 miles. The main requirement is the boat cannot have a motor. There were canoes, kayaks, lots of trimarans and stand up paddle boards!! That’s right, SUP 750 miles, sometimes in open water.  Oh my. They left the harbor with large oars for power. The first day didn’t have much wind and the rowers did very well.  My favorite boat name is, “What the Fuca”. First prize $10,000, second prize, a set of steak knives! Gotta love it.

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And then the beautiful full moon rose. It was still light out at 10 pm. The whole gang was out to enjoy it. They took a break from their primary activity.

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But they are at it again this morning!

 

An eagle has landed

Quite literally. We woke up to hear a funny chirping outside. It sounded like it was coming down the stove pipe, but happily there was no bird in the woodstove. Tim went outside to investigate and sure enough, the eagle was perched on the cabin’s stove pipe. No photo to prove it though.

Weather was dramatic yesterday; winds to 40 knots.. The cabin shuddered and creaked but didn’t blow down. One door blew off one of the outbuildings, the roof was lifting off another but overall we fared fine. The boat was still securely tied to the dock the last we looked.

The wind was whistling but at least the sun was out. We went to check on the daffodils we were assigned to collect but they haven’t yellowed yet.

I often see things in nature. The rocks of Deal Island have fabulous character, a mouse lady and dragon among others. Well here, we’re surrounded by 20,000 birds. So what do the clouds look like?

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A feather! Imagine that.

We stopped by to talk to the seagull researchers. They confirmed what Tim thought. All the seagulls leave the island after dark. They won’t once they have eggs but at the moment, all the colonies leave as a group and raft on the water about 3 km away. How do they know this?  They stay up all night and watch and listen. They are also looking into the ovulatory cycle of seagulls. It seems when times are tough, they all lay eggs together. Less chance of 1/1000 eggs being snatched up then 1/10. Interesting stuff. And a small increase in the water temperature, due to climate change, is enough to make this happen.

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The wind didn’t stop shipping traffic or affect the wildlife too much.

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I got a chance to try out this hand powered food processor in the kitchen. My first attempt to mash potatoes with it was a disaster. I guess it is not a ricer. But it grates and slices hard veggies like a champ.

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So we enjoyed a carrot craisin salad and I didn’t even get any skinned knuckles from grating the carrots.

Another great day in paradise.

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Or as Tim likes to say, “There’s no such thing as paradise”. We did use the windy day to check the septic tanks and I am happy to report all is well.

The birds and the bees

We live in a cabin in a very “fertile” area of the island. Kind of like Times Square before Mayor Giuliani.  Either one pair of seagulls is very amorous, or every day several new pairs come to mate before our eyes.  And they’re not quiet about it, they are seagulls after all.  There’s a lot of squawking.   First there’s the hello baby…

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Then the male stands on the back of the female

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and they co-mingle their tales to do the nasty. No appendages involved.  Look it up. This happens right outside our window, several times a day.

Now they’re looking towards the future and getting ready to nest.

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Tim cleaned all the windows when we got here but they are making amazing messes with their fly-bys and he has to do it again.

I spent a couple of hours docking today. With a light wind, no spectators, and no other boats to worry about, I do pretty OK.

Today was a high carb day.  I baked a loaf of bread and a coffee cake. Yum. We’re staying here for a while since there have been small craft warnings so I am making do with what we have. We still have wine and chocolate, so we should be fine.

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Rain and clouds may be gone for a while.  These were passing clouds this afternoon. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

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