It was day two of my adventure in Maine. I had found my friend Melina from my Maine years on Facebook, and she had accepted my friend request quite some time ago, but she never posts, so I was unsure if I could reach her. I took a chance and messaged her, hoping that maybe while I was in Maine, her time there would overlap. She messaged me back quickly with the happy news that she LIVES in Maine, that she was only 42 minutes away, and that she could come up on Saturday to see me. I was so excited!
Jenny invited the kids and me over to Sheep Island, and we were very eager to go! Uncle Peter gave me a tutorial on how to run the boat, and the kids and I set out. Our visit to Sheep Island was amazing. The kids were so happy to see their cousins, and Sweet Pea was happy to have another large porch play-ground. Jenny showed me all around the house, which didn’t take too long; Rocky Ledge is basically a 20 x 20 two-story box with a huge front porch. Some things were different, but mostly it was the same. Some major improvements had been made: a new propane stove replacing the ancient one in which I baked brownies as a kid. There was a new propane refrigerator. (There had been one when I was little, but at some point it had broken and my last few years on Sheep Island we had used the big lead-lined, horse-hair insulated ice box on the front porch.) The outhouse had been completely re-done with windows and a clear roof. It was down-right luxurious for an outdoor potty! We culminated the day with a boat ride over to Cundy’s Harbor, where the whaler I was driving decided not to restart. Jenny towed us back to Sheep Island, and ultimately back to Brightwater when the boat remained stubborn. Sweet Pea fell sound asleep in my arms while wearing her life jacket. (She slept so soundly in Maine! It had to have been how much time she spent outside.) I never was able to get the boat started again, and Uncle Peter was very generous to put his personal whaler into the water for me to use from there-on out.
Lobster crates make great play-pens!
Jenny tows us home
The kids spent a good amount of time roaming the island with their cousins. One of my joys in being in Maine was allowing all my children the opportunity to be free-range kids. This would continue to play out over the next two weeks as they discovered greater and greater independence. On Sheep Island, there is nowhere for them to go–they were always somewhere on the island. They could run and play as much as they desired…coming home for food or drink as needed. My children found a similar freedom on Brightwater, our peninsula home. There was almost always someone around with whom to play, explore, discover, and build forts, and as long as they wore life jackets on the docks, they were free to just go and enjoy. I saw them and whomever was with them whenever someone was hungry or thirsty or needed permission to go off somewhere on a boat with another family or family member. Sometimes a cousin or friend would show up at meal time, and I would feed them. And likewise, my kids ate where ever they landed at meal time. It was and is an idyllic place to spend time when you are a child. It’s one of the few places left where the kids can have this freedom, and I am so grateful that at least some of my children get to experience that as children. My older children later expressed some bitterness that they did not get to experience that when they were younger.
Free Range kids!
Curious George quickly learned how to catch the dock and cast us off. Uncle Eric in the background…
Back on Brightwater that afternoon, the kids and I set off to take a walk. I wanted to see if the Duponts were there. Eric and my mother had rented the Duponts little Todd Cabin for my girls for the next weekend, and I was eager to see them and everyone else I had known as a child. I had Sweet Pea on my back as we walked up the Dupont’s driveway. As we walked up, a vehicle towing a trailer was coming down. The man stopped, I explained that we wanted to see if the Duponts were there. He introduced himself as Gus, and I told him I was a Blachly. We chatted a few more minutes, and I asked him his last name. “Manomaitis,” he replied. Tears sprung to my eyes. “You’re Luke’s dad!” I exclaimed. He nodded in the affirmative. “I’m Andrea….I used to hang out with Luke and Melina ALL the time!” “I haven’t seen you since you were a kid! Why don’t you and the kids cut across the meadow there, and meet me over at the big house.”
When I was a kid, Luke and his family camped in tents on their property. He, Melina and I were tight….and the summer I was 15, I had a serious crush (like, I was in love, as only a 15 year old girl can be) on Luke. I had always hoped he felt the same, but I never knew for sure. One of the horrible side effects of being molested is that you cannot trust that your perceptions are correct; if your perceptions were correct, you reason, you would never have been molested in the first place. Shame and guilt compound this problem. It is a lie that feeds and corrupts so many areas of life. I am better at trusting my gut instincts now, but for a long time, I had no idea what was true and what was not true, what I could trust and what I could not trust. I knew how I had felt about Luke, but I had never been quite sure how he had felt about me. The summer before, Melina and I had been sidetracked for a few weeks with the arrival of two blonde boys, Mike and Jeff. I am not sure how Luke felt about the fact that his two chums were distracted with those other boys, but I do seem to remember that he was not too pleased. Strangely enough, I really could not remember much before the summer I was 14. I had some general memories–baking brownies on Sheep Island, spending hours reading down at the end of the island while the seals played on the rocks, sailing with Grandpa and my father. But the people were vague. And I really had no memories of Melina and Luke going back much farther than age 14. That was all about to change….
The kids and I had a great visit with Gus. His wife Renee was in Bangkok with Luke and his wife and their newly-born third child. The kids played on the carousel horse in Gus’s sun room, while he showed me around his beautiful home. He explained that the ceiling in the living room was built to look like the inside of the Airstream trailer they had camped in for many years. It is a gorgeous home. We left with some freshly harvested rhubarb, which I knew was going to be used to honor my father in some way as he LOVED rhubarb when he was alive.
Mr. Gus and Rachel, Curious George and Sweet Pea
As we walked back across the meadow, we cut closer to the farmhouse at the top of the meadow, near the road. The Maslen family lived in the farmhouse. I was always in awe of Eric and Lucy Maslen and their tribe of ten children. I thought that was an unspeakably huge family. It does not seem so remarkable now that I have eight children. The Maslen home is next to the barn in which the barn dance thrown at the beginning of August is always held. I loved the barn dances as a child. Coming back as an adult, the barn looked so small. I have no idea how that many people could fit into it, but the locals tell me that the barn dance seems to grow each year. I saw a little old man in the front windows of the glassed-in porch, and as we got to that side of the house, I decided to knock on the door. He answered, I explained who I was. He kissed me on the cheek, remarked that it had been a very long time since he had seen me, and told me he was sorry to hear about my father. And then he pointed at Little Princess and declared, “Now, THAT is a Blachly!” Mr. Maslen is probably closest to my grandfather in age. His pronouncement felt like a blessing. We bid him good-bye and walked home. Uncle Peter called as we were walking back and invited the kids to go sailing. They were thrilled to go. Back at the cabin, as Sweet pea napped, I began to mull over this strange feeling I had. I could not define it at the time, but as I have thought about it since then, I think I was feeling a sense of being known. This feeling would grow as I continued to meet people who had known me as a child.
My pastor often talks about our deepest desire as humans to be completely known and completely accepted and loved. Ultimately, this deep desire can only be met in Jesus Christ, who knows us completely, loves us completely, and accepts us completely. (And Jesus alone did everything needed for our salvation completely…so that all we have to do is receive it.) So much of my life had been spent in hiding who I was, in feeling shame over my existence, in trying to measure up and failing miserably. Here I was encountering people who had known me and who were happy to see me. The culmination of all this would happen over a week later when we held the memorial party in honor of my father and my aunt. As I mingled at that party and encountered all the people I had known as a child, I was amazed that they had remembered me. A few of them reminded me of events that we had shared, places we had gone. I was someone in their memories. It was overwhelming to think that on some level, I had mattered to these people. My memories had seemed blank, but they weren’t. The memories were there, lying dormant. I began to recall the people and the events we shared. It has shattered me to think about how long I have continued to live the lie that I had not mattered to anyone. Because the truth is, I had mattered, I was remembered, and I had been missed, even on the smallest level. I am still absorbing this. My friend and counselor Debbie reminds me that this is part of living in repentance: I must take that truth and apply it to my life and my memories. I mattered. I mattered to my family. I mattered to the summer people. And I mattered–and will always matter–to Jesus. That last part I did get, but the rest I am just now starting to understand. I am not sure words can convey how deeply this truth moves me. To think that I mattered to other people during a time in my life when I had buried myself so deeply as a defense mechanism….it is earth-shattering.
But this was all to come.
First, we had to go through fire.
Friday morning, Jenny and her children came across the river and loaded their van with laundry and shopping bags. They had a lot of errands to run. The boys and Little Princess played and explored most of Friday morning. Around midday, a van pulled up at the Blachly cabin next door. (My grandfather inherited the Field Cabin, and his brother and sister inherited the Blachly Cabin when Great-Grandpa died. The Blachly Cabin is now largely in the care of my second cousin, Sarah, and her husband, Aaron.) My boys spotted two little girls, and we walked in that direction to make contact. It was cousin Sarah’s husband, Aaron, with their two oldest children, Nora and Josie. The kids all quickly made acquaintance, and much joy was shared that that we had kids that seemed perfectly matched in age. Little Princess, age 11, paired with Nora, age 10. Lil’ Adventurer, age 8, paired with Josie, age 8. Curious Georige, age 6, paired with Calvin, age 6. Iris, age 3, and Sweet Pea, age 18 months, were the only two left out of the perfect match-up. Aaron explained that Sarah was still getting groceries for the weekend, but that she would be up soon. I went back into the cabin to give Sweet Pea a nap.
About an hour or so later, the phone rang. Jenny had received a call from our Sheep Island neighbor, Rob Miller, who had recently retired as fire chief for Cundy’s Harbor, which is the harbor just beyond Sheep Island. He had gotten a fire call for Sheep Island and was alerting Jenny that our cottages were potentially in danger. Jenny asked me to go down to one of the houses further around the Boulevard on Brightwater with a view across the river to Sheep Island and see if I could see anything. I grabbed Sweet Pea, stopped at the Blachly Cabin, where Sarah had just arrived, said something to effect of how great it was to see her after so many years, and could I please leave all the kids with her for a minute. She said yes, and I hurriedly drove down the road. As I ran behind the neighbor’s cabin, I could see three things clearly: Sheep Island was on fire, it was big, and our house was not burning. I ran back to the Blachly Cabin and asked Sarah if she could keep all the kids while I went across the river. She hugged me, told me to go and not to worry about the kids as I thrust Sweet Pea into her arms.Sweet Pea, who usually has to warm up to strangers, was fine as I hurried away. Sarah and Aaron would eventually feed all my children dinner.
(Sarah and her family were very important people in my life when I was younger. I did not realize it until many years afterwards, but I managed to name my three older girls after Sarah and her sisters. Sarah’s mom and the children always spent a huge chunk of each summer in Maine, and I have distinct memories of hanging around them and trying to help with the babies–because I LOVED babies as a young teen! Those memories came flooding back as I interacted with Sarah. It was so sweet to remember their family and how much I loved them. The spring break before I turned 16, I actually flew to New England to spend some time with them. My 16th summer was spent on a mission trip with Teen Missions, and I was raising money for that trip. Dan and Andrée gave me a huge sum–about a fourth of what I needed for the whole trip. It had been 29 years since I had seen their family.)
As I reached the dock and began to untie Uncle Peter’s whaler, Jenny and her children came racing down the path. I re-tied Uncle Peter’s boat, and climbed into Jenny’s boat. We raced across the water at breakneck speed. Jenny moved immediately into action, telling her kids to gather all of their personal belongings, throw them into bags, and take them to the pier. Once those things were out of the house, Jenny started taking the precious pictures and things out of the house. I felt as useful as a milk bucket under a bull. It had been 30 years, and I had no idea what was precious and what was not! And then it struck me: every lantern at Rocky Ledge runs on fuel. The stove and refrigerator run on propane. If the fire got close enough to our house, it did not seem like a good idea to have all that fuel in the house. I started removing fuel, and then paint thinner and paint from the back room. If it was flammable, I was getting it out of the house. I made note of where the fire extinguishers were.
Our pretty potty, spared from the fire…but barely! Flames were just beyond our outhouse and a brush pile next to it was barely saved. Fire fighter equipment visible…chainsaws and gas cans.
Photo credit: Portland Press Herald. Rocky Ledge is the house with the bright green roof.
Meanwhile, Uncle Peter had arrived. He started using our water pump (which is piped from some rain barrels that my brother installed last year) to wet down the outside of the house. We ultimately pumped the water barrels dry. My niece and I went upstairs with some buckets of water, and she climbed out onto the back roof, a very perilous perch, and wet down the outside walls above it. I closed the windows to keep embers from flying in. Jenny had been in contact with her good friends who owned the house two down from us (and in fact the entire end of the island) and they had requested that she get a few of their precious belongings out of their house. At some point, as the firemen began to swarm the island, I looked out and saw that there were a more than a dozen yachts and smaller vessels anchored around the coves. The people had come ashore and were offering help. They helped us move propane tanks. They helped lug gasoline containers from fire pump to fire pump. They helped carry heavy stuff to our pier. Then, when it was all over, they just disappeared again. A total of nine fire departments responded, as well as the Maine Forestry Service and the Coast Guard. We watched in awe as the helicopter swooped in and dumped bucket after bucket of water on the fire. My nieces and nephew were scared at times. At one point, I realized that the only effective thing I could do was be a comfort. I prayed with my nephew and assured him that everything would be okay…even if we lost the house, the people we love were okay. He seemed to calm down a bit.
We could feel the helicopter coming in before we could see it. It was REALLY close to us!
During this time, my sister was going around the island collecting gas cans for the firemen’s chainsaws and for the three portable water pumps the firemen were using to pump river water onto the fire. One of them was stationed at our dock. On an island with no running water, everything for fighting a fire must be brought in with the firemen. Adding to the difficulty of having no running water was the fact the center of the island was covered with downed trees that had fallen about five years ago in a micro-burst. Maneuverability was seriously undermined by the dense brush, rugged terrain and fallen trees. The firemen worked hard to contain that fire, having to switch tactics every time the wind shifted. At one point, they had left the other end of the fire to come toward the our end of it, and my niece was the one who came running down the path to alert us to the fact that our neighbors were about to lose their outhouse. Miraculously, no one was hurt and no structures were lost.
Uncle Peter went to the harbor to get more gas. It was choas. Organized chaos. Finally, after about 4 hours, the fire was contained. It had burned 4 acres of land, had come within 100 feet of our back door (and much closer to our friend’s home two doors down) and had left us with a huge mess to clean up. We sat on the front porch at the end it all and breathed a sigh of relief. Uncle Peter and Jenny each drank a beer, Jenny offered me a glass of wine, which I gladly accepted, and we celebrated the fact that our island sanctuary was safe. We had made plans the night before to have dinner with Marilyn, an island neighbor, but we suspended our surf and turf for another night. Marilyn, at age 85, had had enough excitement, and I needed to get back across to my children. Jenny was frazzled and Rocky Ledge looked as if it had been ransacked. Uncle Peter and I rode back across the water together. (He was incredibly gracious when I almost dumped him into the water by putting the boat in gear before he was seated…and again when I almost immediately ran over a rock, which was just barely under water due to the high tide.)
The first of several fire boats that would land at our dock. That interior dock is impossible to navigate to or from at low tide! Later the outer dock would have more boats tied to it.
I found it strange that of all the emotions I felt while the fire raged, I was never afraid. I feel as though I have walked through several fires in my life–fires that have destroyed me or nearly destroyed me; some sovereignly designed by God to do just that so he could rebuild me, and others of my own making–and although I have never been through a real fire with flames, I was safe in the knowledge that everything that mattered to me was safe. If the house had burned, then my sister, her kids, and I could have simply gotten in a boat and escaped…and my children were all safe. It would have been horrible to lose Rocky Ledge, but as Jenny said, that is why we have insurance. There was nothing in that fire that could destroy me. And it was comforting to know that. Perhaps I would have felt differently if I had been staying on Sheep Island. I don’t know.
Aftermath. The next day we walked around the burn area. Firemen stayed on scene for a few days after the fire was extinguished, working on hot spots. The island is covered in peat moss, which can smolder for a long time in the ground. The forestry service cut a 3 foot swath around the burn area, throwing green stuff outside the burned area and dead or charred stuff into the burn area. At some point, all that will have to be removed to prevent another fire situation. This fire has been deemed man-made in nature, although exact details have not been released.
Jenny brought her kids across to Brightwater so I could feed them and allow them to take some showers. Amelia ultimately decided to stay the night with us, which Little Princess loved. They snuggled together under the covers and I felt like I got to know Amelia a bit better. We had a good time, despite the crazy afternoon we had experienced.
The next morning, we took Amelia back across the river. Jenny had not slept much at all, but she had spent a lot of time and effort putting the house back in order. She had some things she wanted me to take back to the stone room–an extra gas can, some paint and paint thinner–flammables she did not want left at Rocky Ledge. The boys immediately disappeared, and it took a while to wrangle them back so we could get back across the river. Melina was coming! I was so excited to see her again.
Melina arrived. We hugged. I was struck with how little she had changed. I met her boys. My children were down at the dock swimming with their third cousins, Sarah’s children. We sent Melina’s boys down there, but they felt a little awkward. Melina went and made introductions, while Sweet Pea continued to sleep. Melina and I talked about our lives, our journeys, our children. She was shocked that I could not remember all the years we had been friends. “Don’t you remember playing in my sandbox?” she asked. I didn’t. I asked her to tell me what it had looked like, and she replied, “I’n not going to tell you because you ARE going to remember.” I shared some of the painful stuff from my past. And a while later, out of the blue, I DID remember her sandbox! I described it to her, and she smiled and affirmed that I was remembering correctly. We had been friends since at least the age of five, and possibly as early as three years old. She remembered digging for clams when we were really little. She said to me, “Andrea, you are still the same funny girl you always were.”
And as we talked, a whole host of memories washed over me. I am not sure if Melina realized how intense that felt for me. She began telling the story of how I made her jump for the dock, because I was terrible at landing the boat, and we were too far away, and she jumped right into the water. All the moms on shore had horrified faces, but Melina somehow jumped out of the water onto the dock (it had to have been low tide) and pulled the boat in. I remembered it! Oh, how we laughed. I remembered playing in Arthur’s cabin. Her family had owned a charming property–the larger cabin was Kate’s cabin and the smaller one was Arthur’s cabin. We spent countless hours playing house, sleeping over, staying up way too late in Arthur’s cabin. She reminded me of how the three of us (Luke included) would make rice crispy treats, but somehow they almost never made it out of the pot where we had melted the marshmallows and dumped the cereal. We ate it hot. I remembered how her mom always had some baked goodies around. Muffins, brownies, etc…and always fresh fruit. The memories washed over me, lapping at my soul like a gentle wave, and then consuming me like a tsunami. Melina brought me the gift of remembering my past. And to my joy, there were some wonderful things in it! Luke, Melina and I would take a canoe out into the middle of the basin and spend hours on the little island out there. Often we would lose a paddle and someone would have to swim to get it. The three of us would play on the rocks, explore the woods, play card games and endless games of Chinese checkers. I asked about Luke, and she told me that she was sure he had felt the same about me as I had about him that summer we were 15. She said he had been really bummed that I did not come back my 16th year. Could it be that my perceptions were correct? Had Luke really liked the 15 year old me? There was something sweet and comforting in the thought. My past was becoming my own, and it was filled with sweet, wonderful things, not just bad, too-horrible-to-remember things. Repentance here involves allowing my past to be redeemed, not just from sin, but from the lies of darkness that would seek to steal my joy.
Melina came back on Wednesday, and we went to her parent’s house and I was reacquainted with them. It was like being back with family again. Their hugs were so genuine. Their welcome was so warm. We ate potato salad and blueberry pie, and Frank and Sweet Pea bonded. I told them that my older children were all going to be there by Friday, and Barbara invited me to bring them all over for blueberry pie. I did take all my children over on Friday. Dee played the grand piano, and Barbara invited her to come play anytime, even if they were not home. Star Child helped serve blue berry pie, and Frank and Sweet Pea cemented their friendship with a walk around their yard. Barabara asked if there was anything we needed for the memorial party. She offered me everything from her kitchen to her baking pans…and in the end she offered to arrange a bouquet of flowers from her bountiful and beautiful flower garden. I accepted that offer with thanks. Melina was coming up on Sunday to help me cook. Barbara was going to see Melina on Saturday and would borrow her crock pot for me as I had several large pork shoulders to cook for BBQ sliders. Barbara and Frank hugged my children as if they were their own grandchildren, and it warmed my heart so much to experience that welcoming love. I had missed them, and I had not even known it!
photo credit: sarahthetrex
The boys at the Roberts’ home….another carousel horse! Mr. Frank and Hazel become best buddies.
Thursday night, my mother and Gladys Mae had arrived. Gladys Mae and Little Princess stayed in the Todd cabin that night, and the next morning we moved Sweet Pea down there, too. The girls had arrived around 3 am Friday morning. I allowed them to sleep in and then called them to come up and eat pancakes and sausage for breakfast. Two little boys raced down the road and gleefully woke their sisters up. The girls had been sorely missed! Sweet Pea and Dee were reunited. Star Child moved back up to stay with us because she had her dog Journey with her. Friday night I met the Handy Man at the airport.
Lil’ Adventurer discovers yet another carousel horse at the Todd Cabin
Reunited and it felt so good!
Sarah and her family had left the previous Monday, but the Duponts had arrived. I had spent an hour or so visiting with them, and my boys were delighted to find that their grandson was with them. Thomas was 7 years old, just between my boys in age, and he was also in 7th heaven with two little male playfellows. My children had also spent a night with my sister during that week, leaving Sweet Pea and me at loose ends. That day it ended up raining and dreary, the perfect day to sleep late, lounge in jammies, and rest. It was a great day to be indoors, although over on the island, my kids were running full tilt with their cousins. My children returned, and the latter part of that week was filled with the rest of the family arriving. Eric made a trip to the airport to pick up cousin Ruscha from England. Uncle Richard had arrived from England at some point as well. (He was staying with Uncle Peter. Ruscha was staying at Rocky Ledge with Jenny and her crew. Our brother Ryan had also arrived and was on Sheep Island at Rocky Ledge.) Kaf drove in from New York, and then on Friday, cousin Margaret and her family arrived. They had rented the Blachly Cabin from Sarah for the weekend. With them was 7 year old Leo and 4 year old Gail. Rachel knew them from her visit to D.C. for Grandpa’s birthday, and it was a happy reunion all the way around. Again the boys had a male cousin just the right age next door!
Cousins, first and second! and Curious George and Thomas enjoying ice cream at our favorite place, Witch Spring Hill
Saturday morning dawned early, and the Handy Man got a running start on the re-wiring of the cabin project. He started by examining the situation. Later Eric and our brother-in-law Matt would come over and start pulling wires off the walls. I think that was the day Uncle Peter took all my children and Jenny’s children sailing. He later told me that Gladys Mae was smart and strong; she had saved the day when a line had gotten stuck and the boat was about to crash into some rocks. Uncle Peter takes his sailing seriously, and to give a compliment like that was indeed high praise! While the men worked and the kids played, Mom and I went exploring.
Uncle Peter and Uncle Richard take 8 kids sailing…..far right, Uncle Peter
photo credit: sarahthetrex
First, we went around the Boulevard to the other side of Brightwater to visit Margaret and Bill. Margaret had been my father’s crush when he was around 15. They had remained friends through all those years. I remembered how we always stopped and stayed a night at Margaret and Bill’s house in Connecticut on our way to Maine each summer. l remembered the house quite clearly, and Margaret was stunned to hear the details. I was stunned, too, as I had no idea all that was in my memory! Margaret had stayed in touch with me during the years I was estranged from my parents. I know our estrangement had concerned her greatly, and she had prayed for us. She rejoiced to learn of our reunion, and she pulled me aside to let me know how much she knew it had meant to my father. When I was a child, Bill had a beautiful wooden ski boat with a powerful motor. We used to water ski in The Narrows. Bill was always patient. I think I got up a few times, but I never water-skied well. I was sad that that beautiful boat no longer exists.
Lobster rolls with Mom at Cundy’s Harbor and Holbrooks Wharf. When I was a child, Holbrooks store was run by Christine, who I think was ancient when my father was a boy. Christine always kept the store chock-full of stuff, and she was also the post-mistress. The store has very little in it now–I am not even sure how it can stay open–and the post office is somewhere else now, but the wharf restaurant has grown. We enjoyed our lunch!
We visited a while, and then Mom and I set out for town. We were looking for birthday cards for Jenny, and I had a burning question to answer. I remembered distinctly that once a year our family would go down to a pizza place near the Bath Iron Works and eat out. It was remarkable because we almost never ate out. This place had plastic red and white checkered table cloths, and they served beer by the pitcher. We always ordered two pizzas (one always had mushrooms) and we children would each get a huge plastic tumbler of soda with straws that still had the end paper on the top of them. Eric had also remembered this experience, and there were a few places I thought it could be. Mom gamely went into a few establishments with me as we tried to find the right one, but we were not successful. We decided to go to Cundy’s Harbor instead and have lobster rolls. We reminisced about Dad as we ate, sometimes allowing tears to touch our eyes. Mom smiled and said that this lunch was on Dad. He did love to take us to lunch! I think Mom and I needed to have some time to remember Dad and Maine quietly before the crowd would descend the next day. We had a lovely afternoon, and then we headed back to Brightwater. Mom headed back across the river to Rocky Ledge. I texted Melina and told her I would need her around noon on Sunday. That night cousin Margaret and her husband Catlin invited the Handy Man and I over for a visit. We stayed way too late and had a lovely visit.
Electrical upgrade. It’s a two-man kitchen at most! The original wiring was from the 1930’s, cloth covered, and very unsafe.
The next morning we woke to a flurry of activity. Star Child came up and started pulling the pork for me. She stood and pulled pork for over an hour, and in the end we had gorgeous BBQ. I had delivered a good bit of the non-perishable food to Rocky Ledge the day before. Jenny, Kaf and Ruscha had done extensive shopping for the cheeses, olives, adult beverages, etc. We got a few texts asking for ice and the like, which Lindy and the Handy Man picked up while making a Lowe’s run in town. Melina showed up while I was working on cheese olive balls. Second cousins twice removed, Peter and Pam, showed up while our cabin was in a flurry of activity. The Handy Man was working on wires. Melina and I were cooking–heating meatballs, making cheese pinwheels, baking olive cheese balls, etc. Mom was having an emotional morning, and she had come across the water for some support. She ended up visiting with Pam and Peter. Margaret came by and said that she and Bill were not going to be able to attend the party after all, but could I please write two messages on the dissolving paper for her? She wrote the messages, and entrusted them to my care. Melina continued to work on our food. I realized that we were going to run out of time and oven space, and I sent a pan of artichoke dip over to the Blachly Cabin where cousin Margaret graciously stuck it into the oven for me.
Eventually we had most of the food ready to go. Coolers of ice were ready to go. Barbara had delivered two gorgeous bouquets of flowers, and we had put garbage bags over them to protect them from the wind on the way across. Marilyn, our 85 year old neighbor on Sheep Island, came across in her big boat to pick up all my children and both of Melina’s boys. I think Pam and Peter went with her, too. Eric. Matt and Ryan came across in two boats. Melina had loaded the back of her van with all the food we had prepared, as well as everything else that had to go across the water, and had taken it all down to the Wynburg dock so it could be loaded easily. (It sure beat hauling all that down the long path to our dock!). All the people and food went across while Melina and I waited for one last pan of food to get finished. I had even made my father’s rhubarb crumble. I changed clothes at the last minute, and Melina and I made our way over to Sheep Island. Uncle Peter continued to run shuttles for a while, but eventually there were 54 of us on the Rocky Ledge porch and in the house. Some of them were island neighbors. Most were family. It was a lovely showing for my father and my aunt.
Family photo on Rocky Ledge. Four generations of the Blachly family represented.
(More to come in Maine, part 4!)