During most summers, my husband and I spend several days with some friends on an island off the coast of Maine. Getting to and from the island is a bit complicated, involving a ferry from the mainland to a large island, a drive from one side of that island to the other, then a small boat from the large island to a smaller island. In the midst of it all, there’s the loading and unloading of a lot of stuff, plus the meal planning that happens before we even set out, since most of the food (and beverages) must be purchased well before the ferry.
The island has no electricity and no running water, except for the collection of rainwater into cisterns for the washing of hands and dishes. There are several buildings on the island and each building has a gas-powered range and refrigerator, so it’s not exactly a camping experience. Each building has its accompanying outhouse, though, which really reinforces the sense of displacement from normal life—especially when one needs to visit an outhouse in the middle of the night.
In these days of cell phones and powerbanks, portable solar panels and communication towers dotting every landscape, we aren’t exactly cut off from the world. But, it feels that way.
The older I get and the more that technology becomes a permanent fixture in my daily routine (at home and at work), I look forward to my days on the island, when I can feel disconnected. These are days of respite and renewal.
There are lots of trails to hike and strange mushrooms to marvel over. A common question: what sort do you think that one is? There are lots and lots of rocks, some very large and many very small. There are meadows full of blueberry bushes, although this year there were not a lot of blueberries (but enough to put in the cobbler on the last night). We played games and shared stories. We gathered for happy hour before dinner every evening, sitting in the Adirondack chairs in front of the main farmhouse. We watched the lobster boats going about their work each day and enjoyed a fabulous lobster dinner one night, feasting on lobsters that had been caught that very day. We were lulled to sleep by the gong buoy that sits at the mouth of the small harbor of Swans Island.
Disconnection is a wonderful and wondrous thing. It doesn’t take long to realize that the natural world has a lot to share—from the songs and habits of birds, to the butterflies that seem completely fascinated by a thistle, to the water lapping against the land (sometimes gently, sometimes not so gently), to the fascinating colors found in a sunset.
It’s important to disengage from time to time, not only to be away from work and normal routine, but to put oneself in the midst of creation and to take time to allow one’s own sense of wonder to be renewed.