Barb Fernald wrote about her monthly dip in the ocean for December. “Guess we could have dipped at the Eastern Maine Shelf! Fifty degrees there. But it was still a balmy 46 degrees in the water at the Islesford Sand Beach at 2 p.m. for December dip of the month.
Cindy Thomas, Stefanie Alley and Barb Fernald did it! Air temperature 36 degrees.” They have a strong advantage of picking the day: Monday is snow-slush and strong wind, with temperature in the low to mid-30s.
Return from Standing Rock
We pulled into camp around 10 a.m., in awe of the endless tepees, vehicles, tents and flags lining the road that welcomed all walks of life in support of one mission: protecting the water. What, one might ask, were three young women from Cranberry Isles doing in the middle of winter on an Indian reservation in North Dakota? We had come to stand up for human rights in the face of a hungry capitalist agenda, an agenda that had scarred the land and was jeopardizing the health of the Great Missouri River and all those who lived and worked along its banks downstream.
Kayla Gagnon, Jessi Dumas, and I wanted to take our aspiration – to help connect people to the land through The Island Ecology Project – to a larger playing field. We started by standing in solidarity with the local indigenous peoples of Maine. These public gatherings served to raise awareness for the plight of those in North Dakota while simultaneously educating locals about water and land rights issues that face the Wabanaki people here at home. We were so moved by the messages of empowering First Nations people and protecting Mother Earth that we decided to pack our bags and move to the front lines.
Leading the gathering were the women and elders of the Lakota people, guiding newcomers in prayer and action. They, of all people, knew best the sacredness of the land and water they were defending. No strangers to being pushed aside in the name of the mighty dollar, they had had enough.
Octeti Sakowin camp began when the youth of the Standing Rock Tribe posted up beside their sacred burial grounds and the construction sight of the Dakota Access Pipeline this spring. Since then, the Lakota have been joined first by hundreds and then thousands of native and nonnative supporters, calling themselves Water Protectors.
At Standing Rock, we saw not only the empowerment of the Native people we stood beside, but also felt the empowerment of ourselves as women embraced by Lakota culture, which so honors a woman’s role in the community. We learned the power of intention, when during the largest prayer ceremony, we received news that the Army Corps of Engineers had denied final drilling permits to the Dakota Access Pipeline. We watched societal constructs break down as Native grandmothers and U.S. war veterans joined hands to stand for common values, to protect what sustains us all. We cried every day, overwhelmed by the joy of being held by such wisdom and so many open hearts.
We are home now, but Oceti Sakowin camp isn’t going anywhere. We came home promising our new family that we would bring with us a message from Standing Rock. “Mni Wiconi”: water is life. Thank you to all of the Cranberry Isles community members who lent us supplies, gave us travel money and held us safe in their thoughts. We will be speaking next month about our trip.
Kaitlyn Duggan has been in her last show of the season down in Portland. Well done, Kaitlyn!
Islesford-Baltimore is doing well. Dedi Whitaker and Molleson Whitaker O’Donovan’s family celebrate Kate O’Donovan’s graduation from UNC Wilmington. Hugh and Karen Smallwood are enjoying being a local great-aunt/uncle for Henry Austin-Fernald. Bruce and Barb Fernald enjoyed their time with their grandson and are now back on the island. Robin Fernald and Stephanie Austin have been glad to have family on hand. Hugh and Karen hosted dinner with Sally Rowan and Skip Stevens, who were in town for Skip’s end-of-semester meetings with students.
There will be caroling on GCI Friday, Dec. 16. Meet at the Cranberry House at 3:45 p.m. for the hayride with Blair Colby. Leave your porch light on if you would like caroling at your house. There will be a light supper and Christmas movie afterwards at the Cranberry House.
Matt Rice and Philip Horvath shared Dec. 14 as a birthday. Joy Sprague will chalk up another year on Dec. 20. More birthdays include Norman Sanborn on Dec. 21, Jessica Sanborn on Dec 22, Clara Wedge on Dec. 24, Bruce Gribble on Dec. 26 and Peter Buchsbaum on Dec. 27. Happy anniversary to Ric and Ingrid Gaither on Dec. 31.