I can hardly believe that it was just a few weeks ago that I spent a week with family and friends on Monhegan Island. I've been coming to this amazing place, 12 miles off the coast of Maine, since I was six years old, Though there have been some years when I was unable to do so, by my count I am nearing two dozen visits to the Island in every season, including New Years Day.
There is always something different on trips to this very familiar place. One the way back to shore as we watched pairs of porpoises leaping after fish, I looked over at Eastern Egg Rock and declared that this time I would see a puffin. Not two minutes later, there it was, close by the boat and unmistakable with its great wedge of beak. IN WIDE-EYED WONDER I pointed after it as we passed - "Puffin. Puffin! Puffin! PUFFIN!" I had never seen one of these birds before in the wild, and it was as if wishing had made it so. Monhegan is like that. It is hard not to believe in magic when under its spell.
I loved sharing it with Talya for the first time, and seeing her spirit lift like sea fog from the rocky shore. She said it was the nearest to Scotland she could be, except that it was warmer. There is nothing like having new eyes, those of a lover or a child, to show you something new about a place you know and love. My children know and love the Island as I do, but with their own associations and their own memories. The Ice Pond of old is the Duck Pond to them, and Sea Goblins have joined the trolls of the spruce forest in their play.
We had exceptionally fine weather, with rain largely confined to the pre-dawn hours and only one foggy morning that soon burned off. There was one day, though, where heavy squalls passed between us and the mainland, setting up one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen. The cottages on Monhegan face west, and watching the sun go down is a a ritual part of the day. We added a new ritual this year, waking before dawn on our last morning on the Island and hiking out tot he cliffs to watch the sun come up in golden glory.