Leaving Hog Island

Cathy Belisle visited Hog Island not once, but twice in 1999. She first came in June for an ornithology session and then returned with her daughters for a family camp in August.

I woke to the heavy sound of footsteps in the hallway and on the stairs, busily preparing for the journey home. These sounds intermittently masked the waking sounds of the dawn chorus. The gentle sound of waves tapping the shore in the morning calm was similarly over-shadowed. Only the noisy motors of the lobster boats driving past the buoys, setting their traps, could be heard over everything else.

The rising rays of sunlight streamed through my window where the blinds had been raised to let in the cool dampness of the night air. With the breeze came the scent of damp charcoal from last night’s fire on the beach mixed with the salty smell of the sea. It was different than on previous mornings and somehow signaled a change. All the activities were done and the corn and lobster cooked and eaten. Only the spent coals, the memories, and a feeling of completion remained.

Now, sitting outside in a cozy chair on the lawn between these beautiful old buildings on Hog Island, I am overcome by a sadness that is hard to put into words. I don’t want to forget a single sensation of this week. I struggle to clearly remember the breezes on the boat as we traveled to the islands, the call of the Broad-winged Hawk, the breathtaking views from Pemaquid Point, the blueberries stretching out over the hillside into the horizon, and the sounds of birds calling over the marsh. I also want to clearly remember the view of the water and the coast from this island, but my heart knows that no matter how long I sit out on the lawn and stare at the rocks and the water, the memory will fade once I’m gone.

I don’t want to forget a single sensation of this week. I will take a small piece of Hog Island with me when I go.

The peacefulness and tranquility, though, of these days here is something I can remember. I will remember the calm meditations that I have experienced here, along with the brief but meaningful connections I have made with the other people who came here and shared this experience with me.

I am also energized by having had the opportunity to share in the collective knowledge and work of a staff that is exceptional on both a professional and personal level. I know that my perspective will be just a little different as I move forward, because the experience and the learning have changed me. I will take a small piece of Hog Island with me when I go.

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