The next day Skipper came by, saying that it was the first time he'd visited the island since we left. So nobody at all had been here while we were away. As soon as our boat steamed away from the dock in mid December, the old silence enveloped everything again until we returned.
I think a kind of enchantment falls upon McNutt's Island when its people go away. Maybe it has been like this since the beginning of time. I suspect that those who have claimed it as home over the centuries have known that in truth we are at most making a visit here. This is a place that nobody can possess, where nobody leaves much of a mark. It belongs instead to wave and wind and spruce and rock and gull. Left alone, it only takes a minute or two before the island sloughs off any memory of its human inhabitants and slips again into a deep quiet.
And now it receives us back with the indifference of a small primal wilderness. You may stay, the island seems to tell us, as long as you know your place.