In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Companionable island

All winter long and well into spring we didn't have much company on the island. But as the weather warmed up, Skipper and one or two of his sons began coming over to their camp on the weekend. Margot and Dave have been building their own camp for the past couple of months.Patsy and Shannon and Beth and Devon came over a week or so ago, with little Angelina. But mostly you can say that coming to the island is a seasonal thing. It's something that waits until after lobster season is over at the end of May.

So now lobster season is over and visiting season has begun. Ardith and Cliff Van Buskirk hosted their annual weekend for three other couples at their camp. We ran into them at the lighthouse on Sunday morning and then later they came by our house for a visit.

The owners of the island sheep, Mary and LeRoy d'Entremont, and their daughter Anna and their friends Kim and Sean arrived on Sunday to walk around the island and take a look at the new lambs and have a picnic on the Point. Before their island walkabout they came by the house with Skipper and Bonnie's youngest son, Blake, and we had a lovely visit.

And then in the afternoon we watched Peter and Sherry's boat crossing the harbour. They were coming to their camp just for a few hours. We visited over there and had tea and cookies on the porch with Skipper and Dylan. It was quite a sociable day for us.

We never had such sociability before we came to McNutt's Island. People didn't just drop in for a visit when we lived in the US, and we didn't drop by anybody else's house. Life was always too busy, too structured, too scheduled for anything like that. So we are still learning the art of visiting. Our life now is both full of solitude and yet open to others in ways we have not experienced before.

There are nine camps on the island, mostly owned by the children of one of the last lighthouse keepers. They grew up on the island, though the older ones were out on their own or nearly so by then. They have never lost their island connection. Mostly they live across the western harbour, in Carleton Village or Fort Point or Gunning Cove. Mostly they are lobstermen and fishermen. Their own children have grown up with the island as a part of their lives. Most of those children are in their twenties now. They, too, come in the summer, and they bring their friends, and the island becomes a happening place for a day or two before it slips back into silence.

These families, who are so rooted in the island, could easily have treated us as if we were intruders when we moved here. Instead they have been completely kind, sometimes shockingly kind, and they always act as if it's no big deal to be so kind, and are mildly amused that we think it is. I couldn't even begin to tell you the many ways they have been kind to us, without embarrassing them. I think kindness is a Nova Scotia trait. But our neigbours exemplify it.

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