Birch Island, Maine is a very special place for me. When I am sad or frustrated with anything at all I close my eyes and imagine myself on my Grandpa’s eastporter boat, splashing across the tiny waves in and around the islands of Casco Bay. Considered a “minor island” amongst other beautiful half-populated or wilderness islands with mysterious names like Bombazine Island or Irony Island, there was a time in my life when I would go every year. My mother’s parents who live in Switzerland would fly in and rent a house on the mainland, my father’s parents (who own the property) would drive up from Massachusetts and we would stay there the entire summer. Other family members would fly in and stay and at times we would all be together for giant lobster cookouts – without a doubt the happiest moments of my life.
The cabin is without running water, electricity or plumbing of any kind. It has stayed in a state of arrested motion for all of my life with the exception of small additions and improvements usually of a wildly fantastical or deeply practical nature like a box of new paperback novels will be brought up to provide insulation or the dock will be replaced. A solar panel was recently installed and I spent a good portion of my first day frantically trying to wire my cell phone charger to it before I resigned myself to the silence. By the efforts of my uncle Chris and aunt Cindy, a beautiful kitchen has materialized over that last ten years with a gas stove, butcher block counters, lots of pots and pans and a hand-pump to bring water from the well. I spent most of my time there, cooking and pumping water which I found endlessly entertaining.
Lesson learned from my visit: I am not neurotic so much as I am a person who needs to be concerned with the particulars of my own survival in a very labor intensive way.