There truly aren't words tonight, so let these pictures suffice until I regain my balance after a blissful week on a deep sea island. We have returned from Monhegan with berry-stained fingers, nut brown skin, a seine full of memories and aching to return. The mists parted to let us pass this afternoon and the blessed isle retreated behind the veil. But what golden days they were, there on that green gray rock and the sea shot through with silver scales of sunlight!
By my reckoning this was my nineteenth visit to Monhegan, a dozen miles off the mid-coast of Maine where my great-grandparents bought a summer cottage in 1929 and built a second five years later. I've seen it in late spring when the crocus blooms and wet wool steams by the fire on frosty evenings, and picked wild apples in dry October. I've even spent the New Year on this frozen shore - though not in these three season cottages - and helped load traps for the start of the lobster season on boats rimed with ice and pitching on 10 foot swells. Mostly, though, this golden summer season has drawn me to the Island, though it had been six years since our last visit, when Emily at 11 months was on the verge of walking. She and her brother discovered the Island anew, and their first encounter was ushered in with a crescendo of lupine and the attar of island roses.
We shared the time with my parents, they in the lower cottage and we in the upper. The Monhegan cottages have been in the extended family for five generations of the Barker clan, and my mother remembers visiting her grandmother here as my children will recall this visit with their own. The line between memory and the present moment blurs in the Island fog, and my awakened senses respond to sea air and birdsong from that place of first encounter when I was the age of my children. The thrill of the surf at the cliff's edge and the curl of our toes willing us to stay rooted to the rock are primal and universal responses here. The soft greens and brilliant blues and every shade of gray draw artists here, and stir the poet's eye. Grand vistas entice, but so, too the world in a frond of fern and beaded fog on a spider's web.
There are other sides to this enchanted place, darker shades of gray in a world that is very real, for all it is removed from the main current of modern life. Time enough to explore them too, but tonight my mind rides at anchor in the lee of a granite shore, my skin tastes of salt and gulls mew on the wind. Let the story unfold as it will. Tonight I dream of a blessed isle out in the summer sea.