My first experience of Monhegan was summed up in a sonnet I wrote which starts :
“we came last summer, just the day, an impulse ticket out of Boothbay Harbour, and
the Island hidden, clouded, veiled in rain…”
Someone had declared a poetry night at the Library and I wrote two sonnets in an afternoon and read them that night…
I remember that first visit so very clearly–the slight grumpiness of agreeing to my partner’s wish to visit this oh-so-famous offshore artist’s colony, and the vast family of daytrippers in saris and inappropriate shoes who took up too much of the ferry’s air and space and conversation… And the Island rising on the horizon like a dream, like Oz, like a half-subsided cake out of a troublesome oven, and I was thinking “what a waste of a day…” and never was I more wrong. Off the boat, up the hill, away from the clattering masses… into serenity. Into quiet, peace, surrounded by unquiet, un-peace, un-safety. Up the headlands, around the edges, food and drink, down to Lobster Cove, and discovering a cottage for rent with a view of sky and sea and sweet nothing, and, luck of all luck, it was free the next summer, and we were free the next summer…
I haven’t been back since that lovely free summer. We did try–the owner of Four Winds had mis-booked our second reservation, and (knife in the heart) we were denied a return visit. East Boothbay just doesn’t cut it when Monhegan shimmers on the horizon like the Emerald City. But its hooks are in my heart and, wherever I go in the world, wherever I holiday, I am looking for another Monhegan. I have yet to find one.
Stupid. Silly. It’s just an island, for chrissakes…
But it sang to me. I stepped off the boat, onto stone whose roots reached into the center of the earth, and it whispered, it hummed, it sang, “Welcome home,” and it’s stupid and naive and silly of me, but I would fly there now, sail there now, just to be there for a day, a week, a month… I would live there, teach there, sketch there, pot there, walk there, impossible a daydream as that is, cold as it would be there in winter, crowded as it would be there in summer… I would stand there, summer and winter, and feel my roots sink as deep as the Island’s, and know that I was home. Home… a Midwestern/suburban/transplanted/expat/American/Englishman yearning for a rocky island in the middle of a distant sea.
And who here would want to join me?