Last Monday was a lovely day on Matinicus. I had finally rounded up some Kennebec seed potatoes to plant, which took some doing because everybody’s starting their gardens early this year and my usual sources were sold out. I was delighted with the news that on this fine spring day the garage guys in Rockland could meet my jeep on the mainland side when the ferry arrived later, meaning I would not have to ride in with it today. I determined to consider that a gift of precious “spare time” — a Matinicus ferry trip basically shoots the whole day.
We had just got done hiding from one glossy magazine’s freelance journalist when another called with plans to harass Matinicus. OK, everybody, back behind the bushes.
This week, I offer a few stories of how we are kept from harm by those far wiser than us.
Eric called from Burlington wondering how things were going on the island. One always wonders how to begin. “Well,” I began, “we just got done with the bomb squad…”
Most visitors only glimpse the City of Ships as they zip past on the highway, assuming the signature Bath Iron Works tells them everything they need to know about the place. If only they knew what they were missing.
We’re getting ready for the Annual Town Meeting of the municipality of Matinicus Isle Plantation, an entirely humorless gathering always held on the last Saturday of April. In some ways the event might remind one of the Norman Rockwell “Freedom of Speech” painting from the “Four Freedoms” series. This well-known image from the 1940’s may or may not have been inspired by a New England Town Meeting, but it certainly resembles one.
This morning, as I write, the island prepares for a funeral. There won’t be a church service. I do not believe we’ll be seeing the funeral director or any professionals in suits. The Ladies Aid, as such, does not have to sweep the floor in the church basement, set out tablecloths, and arrange flowers. This particular fisherman requested a far more informal sort of celebration of his life.
So I fried up a big mess of doughnuts. That’s all I can do.
I write on the first of April. The sky is blue, the sea is twinkling, the storms are over, the breeze is — well, no, not exactly warm, but no teeth in it. We heard the peepers for the first time this year on the 31st; Paul came home from the evening check of the powerhouse and stuck his head through the kitchen door and said, “Step out here!” We’ve already had the crocuses; they’re almost gone by. Lobstermen are headed home from Florida and Texas and Tenants Harbor. The daffodils are poking up.
As a member of the Board of Directors of RSU #65, which means a school committee member on Matinicus Island for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, until Town Meeting does us part, and as a former island teacher myself, and a school bookkeeper, and the parent of two little island students in homemade sweaters, I feel like I know a thing or two about what an applicant for this job ought to think about.
The problem is we’re not supposed to talk about much of it.
You want to know what it’s really like around here?