Reflections on Monhegan Island Maine: July 2003.
Bruce and I arrive on Monhegan Island by boat. There are only two hotels and one restaurant. Artists have their brushes in hand and paint in a hand bucket. It’s mostly white canvas with soft pastel colors attempting to capture the ocean’s marriage with the rocks. I see the gallant sailboats in the distance. Otherwise, there’s so little to do, that you find yourself hiking every day and playing backgammon and chess when the fog and mist comes in.
Leftovers go with us in a doubled clear plastic bag – grapes that have become sticky over the course of the day…..they cannot breathe. Cream cheese and hard bagles with a half bottle of Sterling Cabernet and Poland Spring water.
Very white and very pure New Englanders surround us….heavy set middle aged men, the women are pale with brightly colored visors to protect their faces and hide the wear and tear of the last 25 years of their lives.
We listened to the island foghorn for most of the night. It started at dawn and didn’t let up until we climbed out of bed.
We learn at a much too early breakfast that there are only 70 residents during the winter on the island itself. Even more isolated is the even smaller, more rugged island of Manana some 200 feet away, with nothing in between but a jagged patch of grass and a mass of sharp rocks called Smutty Nose.
There’s a college student wearing sunglasses with blue toe nails loading stuff on the boats from the nearby dock……paper towels, backpacks, a TV screen and a TV screen box filled with who knows what. She has an Australian accent. Then there was the Norweigan couple. She wears a high end Jansport backpack and has bad teeth. A guy in Khacki clothes helps the student load the boat. They are both joined by a weathered skin man with a blue shirt and army green baseball cap.
The wide eyed children stand in line and ask a million questions. I can’t keep up. They hate waiting. I reflect while I wait. Suitcases, bags, knapsacks, black plastic garbage bags with yellow tags pile on top of the knapsacks, one neon pink mini sack that belongs to a 10 year old girl….a tattered Dole box filled with bananas and a crate of tomatoes from the mainland. As they clear out, a guitar case is left standing alone, by itself.
We’re ready to leave. I slowly make my way on the boat and sit in between a woman with a tie die shirt and an overweight man with a gigantic tripod……More bad teeth.
The wind picks up. The boat slowly departs. In the distance, in the distance, in the distance…..are we really leaving this place? Monhegan Island: Surreal, Mystical, Ancient, Isolated, Peaceful, Inspiring, Cold.