I need to record Vinalhaven –to tell the stories of all the things that mattered there.
This is a romantic re-telling, but it is not naïve.
I have a thousand stories to tell about Vinalhaven and much of it is joy. This tiny island off the coast of Maine taught me about how the world works. Vinalhaven is magic. Vinalhaven is my happy carefree childhood memory amongst much that I do not care to remember.
On Vinalhaven I am amplified. So much of Vinalhaven is soft and sweet and easy –modes of being that I crave. Small kindnesses fill houses and main-street is soaked in friendly greetings. On Vinalhaven I lived mostly alone for three summers. Living alone was a sacred time for me –my desires elevated, my interiority clarified, my ability to care for myself refined. Daily I chose who could enter my home, what was cooked there, what music played, what books read, the tenor of the conversations. Each day I am reminded of what a blessing this was, learning to be alone. My aunt and mother often tear up when I talk about this experience, this is something they wanted or needed in their youths and still never have experienced –with children and jobs and mortgages.
I am a summer person, but Vinalhaven summers have always been work for me –busy and dirty and dusty. My resume will never show how much this work meant or exactly what it was to work on a crew of ten women gardening for the extremely wealthy on a tiny island in Maine. It will never demonstrate exactly what Aya, Anna, Colleen, Stevie, Merry, Jen, Faith, Linnell and I discussed while we knelt in dirt and cultivated the already beautiful land into flowering and fragrant beds. We grew things while we solved political problems and shared what we knew and love or talked about the beauty of language over the course of long afternoons. These women know so much. They shared with me how they lived, fell in love, got married, raised children, and switched in and out of careers. They told me their stories and realities, some painful, many filled with love and beauty. They told me the stories of the stuff they made with their own hands.
Vinalhaven summers hurt my body: piling bags of compost on the back of the truck, kneeling in the dirt, pulling messy weeds, digging out and rebuilding my front walk, walking in my sports bra into the raspberry patch to get at the juiciest ones and delighting in the raised marks on my belly, equal in their sweetness and redness to that of the fruit.
My resume will never show how many raspberry-apple pies I baked for neighbors or times I was early to pick up the Sunday New York Times, arriving in on the 9:45 boat, eager to learn something about what was going on in the world beyond my tiny island and in the mean time talked to Carlene who owned the Paper Store for over twenty years.
My resume doesn’t show that everyday after work I walked to the quarry, took off my pants real slow, checked my legs for ticks, lay on the hot granite, then swam in the softest water you ever felt. My resume doesn’t show that I grew many of my own vegetables in a garden I built and enjoyed them on steps I made and measured for.
Vinalhaven is saturated in stories –they are the precious things that hold the community together. I will record my Vinalhaven and tell the stories of the things that mattered there because I have a thousand stories to tell about Vinalhaven and much of it is joy.