Miles Today: 0
Total Miles: 10,816.0
Days on the Road: 186
It Could Have Been Ours
Wicked Good, Deeyah
Although none of our own grandfathers had the foresight or wherewithal to buy up their own private island during the great Damariscotta River island grab of the early 1900s, I'm glad that one of our best friend's ancestors did. For the past two summers, with a little borrowed humility and pride, we've introduced our August vacation plans to friends and strangers by saying something like, "Well, our friend's family owns an island in Maine...". We're usually stopped right there as the person strains one ear in our direction, as if they didn't hear us right, then demands, "An island? Your friend owns an island?"
People hear the word island and immediately hear steel drums and think pina coladas, until we remind them that it's in Maine, and thus is not tropical and huge like, say, Aruba, but a simply developed and wooded dozen or so acres on the Damariscotta River. We try not to gush too much about canoe-side views of the enchanting mist that sometimes settles on the river from sundown to sunrise, or about the rustic perfection of the handful of cabins scattered along one shore, or about the rare joy of jogging (clothing optional) the two-thirds mile loop along the river then somersaulting our sweaty bodies off the boat dock into the cool brackish water.
We couldn't have asked for a better post-Phish, post-long-ass-traffic-jam, post-mud dancing place to relax and be mellow than this little refuge amidst the lobster trap strewn waters. Ah yes...the lobsters. Among our crew of four, we went through at least eight clean shirts, 12 pounds of lobster, 8 pounds of clams, 2 pounds of drawn butter and 16 towelettes at the local fisherman's co-op. Gluttonous? Maybe. Tasty? Oh yeah.
During our stay on the island, we spent one night spooking ourselves with ghost stories. It all started when Dave mentioned something off-hand about ghosts and Liz casually related how she thought she'd seen one earlier that afternoon while we were playing Badminton on the big lawn. She described an apparition of a middle-aged woman wearing a petticoated, tight-bodiced dress typical of the early 1900s, standing behind a patch of tall rose-colored flowers on the path leading to the Fish House, the first and only cabin transported to the island across the frozen river about a century ago. The sighting was brief and benign.
We sat in a small cluster of chairs, facing each other, alone and quiet, as we listened to Dave ask Liz detailed questions about what she'd seen. We fell silent and cold when he looked as us somberly and told us what Liz had described was the exact image his cousin Jenna has seen on the island about twenty years earlier. Same clothing, same location on the garden walkway, same feeling of calm.
Dave mentioned that two women had lived for some time on the island and there were a few pictures of them, dressed to match Liz and Jenna's description, in an album somewhere. Cass recalled that in one retelling of Jenna's story, it was suspected that the two women were perhaps lovers. Dave quickly quashed that rumor, whispering to Cass that we didn't know anything about that and we most certainly didn't want to upset anyone who might be listening in, as it's well known that turn-of-the-century island ghosts hate being mistaken for lesbians.
We had chills. They were multiplying. We closed all the doors in the main house where we were hanging out, fired up about 16 of the gas lights, went to the bathroom in pairs and planned to cuddle until daybreak in Dave and Cass's nearby cabin. Thankfully, we were able to distract our paranoid minds with a rousing game of Yahtzee - nothing like the sound of dice on felt and the call of "Yahtzee!" to get your mind off the paranormal.
We got through the night, in separate cabins after all, and laughed about it over pancakes and bacon the next morning. Ghosts? Bah.
We were sad to cut short our time on the island, but in the interest of not being homeless forever, we wanted to look at a home in the Catskills we'd been eyeing online. Turns out the 'country life' appeals more in theory than in practicality, at least for us, for now. All along during the trip we've been sort of fantasizing about getting some land and either fixing up an older house or building one ourselves. But, when we were really in the heart of the hills and hours from the city this weekend, we had a hard time picturing ourselves living so remotely. Maybe we'll save the cottage in the mountains for a later time, or a second home. In the meantime, we're open to relocation recommendations, job offers, and psychic readings - anyone? A little help? Friends don't let friends make these decisions alone.
Excitement at the Phish concert.
© 2002, 2003 Anthony Hecht and Liz Jones. All rights reserved.