Monday, August 20, 2012

100 summers ago

Ever since I can remember I've had a passion for island life -- particularly, for some reason, the life on the islands off the coast of Maine.  I read every book Elisabeth Ogilvie ever wrote, loved them all, and when the opportunity came, first to visit, and then later to live on an island out here I leapt at the chance.

It never really occurred to me to wonder why, although I confess I was greatly intrigued, when I first met the man who later became my husband, to discover he subscribed to Islands Magazine; apparently islands held the same fascination for him.

So yesterday the friend we took with us to Shaw Island sent us a picture she had taken of the two of us at the Shaw ferry dock, and I posted it on Facebook.  Apparently my cousin Debbie noticed the picture and for some reason began poking around some of the other photos on my Facebook site, and she found the collage I did a couple of years ago, on Fathers' Day, of the fathers and grandfathers in my family.

Our fathers were brothers, but her dad died young, and so this was the first time she'd seen an image of our grandfather.  She sent me a message asking if I had other images of our shared grandparents, so I spent most of yesterday poking through the photos my mother sent me years ago of all those ancestral personages.  I scanned them in and posted them on Facebook, adding whatever additional information I could find about the pictures, where and when they were taken, etc.

I am not much into genealogy, so, though I've seen the pictures before and know a little of the family history, I hadn't really paid much attention to what was written on the backs of the images.  But there were two images that had been taken in Dark Harbor, Maine, which turns out to have been the summer home of the Boston Brahmin family for whom my grandmother served as a Swedish nanny/governess while in her 20s and early 30s.  And Dark Harbor is on the island of Isleboro -- one of the very islands I have been fascinated by, an island frequently written up in the annual journal of the Island Institute, an organization of which we've been members for years -- even though I've never actually been to any of the Maine islands!

At times like this I wonder again if experience leaves some sort of genetic mark; if my grandmother's summers on a small island off the coast of Maine left a taste for that lifestyle that has carried down through the generations. I know -- it could just be a coincidence.  Or it could be that my grandmother, of whom I remember very little (like me, she started having children quite late in life, and so was quite elderly by the time grandchildren appeared), has maybe been watching over me a little or nudging me from time to time. 

I don't presume to know which of these is true -- but somehow it now seems to make a lot more sense, this odd affinity I have for islands.  And maybe the next time we head east, I'll make it a point to stop off in Maine, to see if I can find this home that she called home almost 100 summers ago...

1 comment:

Maureen said...

I so enjoy stories like this, perhaps because nothing is known about my father's family (he was a first-generation American and his parents died when he was 4). My mother's family comes from England and Ireland but I have no photos of any of them and only have heard the barest about any of them (the gossip is that one was kicked out of England but who really knows?).