At the Ladies Aid this Saturday, a few hours past noon, there was coffee brewing, a bottle of wine on the dining room table and pop music playing in the next room, where the kids were dancing and making Valentines. The wine was for their mothers, who chatted and once in a while peeked in at the children, only to burst into laughter at some of the youngsters’ antics. The women talked about work to be done on Kelly’s house, Rosalie’s recent trip to Nepal, Darlene’s horses back in Virginia, and my driving across the country this spring.
They were grateful – not too long ago, a gathering like this wasn’t common on Great Cranberry, and there weren’t so many moms around to share the responsibilities of raising the community’s children. Just two years ago, there were only five children on the island, all in different age ranges, so they weren’t necessarily spending all of their time together. Now, there are 10 kids year-round, and the ages overlap more. This means less work for their parents; there are many babysitting options, and the favor always will be returned. Part of the beauty of a small and thriving community is the closeness that often enables better communication and cooperation.
When we share responsibilities, we get a whole lot more done. Like the parents who take turns watching each other’s kids, there is a fast growing group of dog owners on the island who help each other out. Jake often piles four or five dogs in his truck to go for a much-needed run. When Jake was sick, Scott came to take out Merle, Jake’s big burly mix of a wolfhound, lab and bulldog. If Sam is busy at the boatyard or Jake is finishing up some cedar shakes, I’ll take Galla and Merle to Fish Point with my dog Louie. Instead of each of us taking our individual dogs out three times a day, we alternate walking a handful of them, saving one another a substantial amount of time and allowing the pups to get in some much-appreciated mad romping in the snow.
I wonder what the community would look like if these ideas were taken a bit further, work was less individualized, and there was more time to socialize. I’ve learned many things from a few of the old-timers I’ve had the pleasure to work with since moving to the island in 2013. Larry, one of the most graceful men I’ve ever seen on a tractor, lamented that back in the day, men in Eastbrook used to get together to frame up a house and put on a roof in one day, a practice no longer common. The island had a similar feel once as well, although the men may have been getting together to build a boat instead. Though these practices have slowed, on both Great Cranberry and Islesford, the potential is there, while other larger communities are just too big, individual members too anonymous.
Fritz Fernald and Anne Townsend came up from Portland to join Barb and Bruce Fernald for a private glass blowing session at Atlantic Art Glass on Jan. 31. The session was a birthday present from Barb to Bruce. “We had a blast!”
The Third Annual Chili Night Cook-off is on Sunday, Feb. 14, at 12:30 p.m. at the Islesford Congregational Church. A special boat will be hired for 11:30 a.m. out of Northeast to Great Cranberry, then to Islesford for the event. (St. Valentine is sure to be there!) T-shirts are available. Thanks to Cari Alley for arranging this again.
The RLL Fund is sponsoring an artist-in-residence at the Ashley Bryan School. Over four sessions, local potter Kaitlyn Duggan is teaching various techniques in ceramics. Her visits to the school are generating great enthusiasm and lively learning. Art teacher Mary Lyman will continue to work in clay with the students until April. The RLL Fund, created by Ashley Bryan, is in memory of Rosamond Lord and exists to encourage exploration in art and crafts by the schoolchildren. Each year, the fund also pays for a selection of superb picture books for the island libraries.
Spring is coming: Melissa Amuso arranges indoor croquet at Islesford Neighborhood House. Come practice for summer!
Before the summer crowd comes, go down to Sand Beach for a spontaneous evening dip. Barb Fernald and Cindy Thomas couldn’t pass up a February evening with air at 45 degrees and no wind. Jeri Spurling attended, camera in hand and as lifeguard, and was probably very happy to act only as photographer. The water temperature in Bar Harbor: 34 degrees; Eastern Maine Shelf fury: 42 degrees. It was so wonderful that they double-dipped.
Happy belated birthday to Terry Savage on Feb. 2, Gretchen Westphal and Bowden Magee Porcaro on Feb. 5, Rick Cegalis on Feb. 7, and Jackson Knox Spangler and Hermon Savage on Feb. 9.
Kirby Sholl celebrates a new year on Feb. 13. Miklos Pogany celebrates his birthday and Valentine ’s Day on Feb. 14, as does Cary Samuel. Denise McCormick chalks up another on Feb 16. Happy birthday to all!
We look forward to reporting all the news. Send items to us by 5 p.m. on Sunday. For Islesford, email Sally Rowan at [email protected], and for Great Cranberry, email Sarah McCracken at [email protected] or call her at 978-879-5939.