Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oh Marmee! This Trip is The Very Best!

[Fairy House in Cathedral Woods photo by Patty Bright]
Posted by Spike Gillespie

Day Two: Tuesday, September 23, 2008

As I was saying in my first post, coming to Monhegan Island has far exceeded any expectations I had and, I confess, though I strive to have no/low expectations in general—come on: how not to get excited at the prospect of an island getaway?

There are certain places I’ve been in my vast and random travels that evoke what I like to refer to as “memories of other people’s happy childhoods.” By which I mean there is some fantasy element realized, as if you really did walk into and become a character in a favorite book. So, for instance, in my case, walking into an old house and finding a fire in the fireplace might trigger such a strong visceral reaction steeped in deja vu that I wouldn’t just be thinking, “Wow, this reminds me of Marmee and the girls knitting socks for Father and the other soldiers!” Instead, I’d feel like I was actually there, chatting with Jo and Meg and Amy and, if she wasn’t feeling too weak, little Beth, too.

Whoa, wait. Stop. Rewind. I’m realizing that trying to describe being here is a bit like trying to describe a dream to some reluctant, captive audience breakfast companion before she’s had her coffee. Forgive me for fumblingly trying to put into words my ongoing delighted awe, but so much of this trip is about feelings, and so many of those feelings run along the spectrum of GOOD: I feel happy! I feel calm! I feel content! I feel I could sit on the porch of Monhegan House and knit for the rest of my life!

So of course I want to share.

I have an idea: how about a brief written recap of the actual events of the day and then I’ll fall back on the old picture-paints-a-thousand-words routine. I’ll post some of the many pictures taken by our fearless co-leader, Patty Bright, who has been shepherding us around all week, leading hikes, and counting heads to make sure none of us have run off with a merman. I call Patty the Benevolent Alpha. No detail escapes her—right down to the lobster cookies she had waiting for us on the van from the airport to the ferry. She’s a great shot with a camera, too, as you shall soon see.

So, okay, the written recap for Tuesday:
Wake up. Eat more delicious food. Head off to the Cathedral Woods, this gorgeous little forest famous for its Fairy Houses. Yes, Fairy Houses. Fans of Andy Goldsworthy already know about the amazing art one can build with found bits of nature. For those of you new to the concept—islanders and tourists alike gather pinecones and needles, twigs, shells, and bits of bark and construct itty-bitty domiciles for the fairies. Some structures are magnificent and Frank Llloyd Wrightish. Others look like they’d more likely be occupied by your slummin’ cousin fairies. As we looked at them, we contemplated fairy strip malls, big box stores, and pre-fab possibilities. But then we set those evil thoughts aside and marched on.

[Sneak Peak Photo: Hiking in Cathedral Woods:]

Then: More breathtaking views of the water at Squeaker Cove. And still more breathtaking views. And then… you get the idea.

Back at Monhegan House we undertook the start of a cool bag project, which involves one of Lisa’s designs (a liner and top trim with drawstring) for which we are knitting the actual bag. We can do either intarsia or Fair Isle. Just looking at the charts made me nervous—I don’t know how to read charts and I only took one Fair Isle class once before and made a bag about the size of a fairy mattress. But I kept telling myself to be quiet, listen, and just take it one stitch at a time. It worked. I actually can (sort of) read a Fair Isle pattern now. I hope to have the bag finished by 2012.

[Mary Alice, our secret relaxation weapon!]

I also had a massage with Mary Alice who—oh lord you know how some people just are natural healers and all you have to do is hear their name and you start feeling better? Well, Mary Alice is like that, only to the nth degree. I hopped right up on the table and struggled to stay awake—I usually sleep through massages—because this felt so extraordinary, so not-of-the-planet, that I wanted to memorize it. Instead, I drifted, and when I came to I felt a bit like Scrooge did when he wakes up on Christmas morning. I felt purged of so much old baggage and ecstatically grateful to be alive. I wanted to throw coins out of my third story window to passing beggar children and tell them to go buy fat ducks or creamy ice cream or whatever they wanted. I tried to express my gratitude to Mary Alice. Much drool came out instead.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: Holden fed us poppy seed raspberry thumbprint cookies and fresh ginger scones for teatime. We love Holden.

And now, for a bunch of pictures:

[Monhegan Island's "MySpace Page" -- old school style. Community info board.]

[Three year round islanders cross road, refuse to reveal why.]

[Cool Rock Sculpture.]

[Susan using her design skills in the forest being assisted by Lisa and her Landscape Architect background.]

[Lisa "Domi-Knit-Trix" Evans preparing to kick our butts with intarsia.]

[Wait, I did tell you the views were breathtaking, didn't I?

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