Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Return Trip

We decided to take the mail boat from Northeast Harbor over to the Cranberry Islands today. Situated just a couple of miles south of Mt. Desert Island, the tiny Cranberries have had permanent residents since 1768, mostly fisherman, farmers, and artists. These days in addition to lovely clapboard and cedar shake houses, there are a few shops, a couple of casual restaurants, and some easy rambling trails that lead down to cobble stone beaches for curious mainlanders like us who are feel the pull of island life.

Truth be told, I had visited Great Cranberry Island before. Being lucky enough to have an old friend who has a summer home in these parts is what brought me up here in the first place 20 years ago. My visits were a few days in the summer, staying in my friend Ruth's guest room. How awesome it was to have a guide and hostess all in one! It was only when my nephews were old enough to bring along that I had clearly outgrown that little room under the steps and started renting a place of my own by the week.

It was in those earlier years that I last boarded the mail boat with Ruth and her husband John bound for Big Cranberry, making sure to bring plenty of water and food since there were no commercial establishments on the island. "Pee before you leave!" Ruth's mom warned me. On that trip we hiked to the end of the only road to reach the beach all the way at the opposite end from the pier. Emerging from the scrubby pine, lupine-filled fields and seaside roses, we found ourselves alone on a vast expanse of rocky beach. There we wandered for hours, filling our packs with at least ten pounds each of perfect stones.

I thought of that adventure this morning as we sat on gray benches in the small cabin of the mail boat waiting to set off. "There's a general store there now?" I asked rhetorically, reading the brochure. "Well," I shrugged, "I guess things change in twenty years." I paused, because it didn't seem possible that so much time had passed.

"Well everything except me, that is!"

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