For a century, the Porter family has owned and cared for Great Spruce Head Island. The Big House remains much as it was a hundred years ago. Eliot Porter wrote about the island and the Big House in his book 'Summer Island.' It's a good read. This is my fourth visit to the island and already I am falling into island time. Cars and freeways and full calendars have slipped away.
It is noon on the first day of our week on this island in Maine. Elita and I have just finished a breakfast of French toast smothered with local strawberries and blueberries, fragrant and so ripe that as we reached for them in their baskets, we brushed away fruit flies. The baskets were immediately covered with a soft old dish towel. Elita lingers over a cup of strong coffee and I, a cup of Chinese herb tea.
hen as we ate French toast, Chris joined us at the big porch table, happy to see Elita and filled with bits of news about folks on the island.
In Seattle, on the 'other' coast, Kelan celebrates his tenth birthday. August 10th was Mom's birthday too. It's been a decade since Mom and Dad and I shared her celebratory birthday lunch and then drove to the hospital to join Dan, Heike, Caroline and Mary B, where all of us watched over Jeanne as she labored mightily to give birth to this first born child. Kelan is a robust ten year old, exceedingly verbal and aware of the politics of the world around him. I wish him a life filled with adventure and good deeds, a life in which social justice is confronted with action. He's already made this world better by his presence. May he continue to make a better world by his openness and sense of fairness. Happy birthday, Kelan McGrady.
I ask about low tide times. Speak of my intention to gather mussels. Anina and Chris both tell us that the numbers of mussels are rapidly decreasing in Penobscot Bay. They themselves don't even bother to search for and gather mussels anymore. This saddens me because I remember hundreds of mussels among the rocks at low tide in 2004.
Anina speaks with a degree of equanimity about the 'next great extinction of species'.
And so, Elita leaves her swim suit on the rock and edges herself into the brown cold water on her bottom, the better not to slip and fall. I never even contemplate entering such cold water.
Her breasts float to the surface of the water, something my breasts would be hard pressed to do. At last, she eases out of the water on her hands and knees and takes cover in a bath towel and grey sweatshirt.
So, suddenly Elita and I will have an island lunch, nothing from the mainland except those hand picked local strawberries, which, by the way, I bought in Blue Hill, not only for their sweetness, but for the wooden basket that held them.
We fry ground meat with garlic, add zucchini, tomato sauce and lots of fresh basil. Boil that gluten free pasta. Make an arugula salad with cucumber. Sit at one end of the big table, our dinner lit with a single candle. We tell each other stories about husbands and children.