Recently, through several acts of serendipity, I found myself on Squirrel Island, Maine (just plain “Squirrel”, if you have a house there), for three days. I stayed in a cottage tucked away by itself on the edge of the island. It is owned by a dear friend whose grandfather was one of the first to call the island his summer “home”. Back then, (1870’s) those who summered on the island, summered in tents. And, according to the island’s historian (who can be found in a room at the back of the post office), the early vacationers came by train to Boothbay Harbor and then took a barge to the island.
For over 90 years Squirrel Island has played host to my friend, “Goldy” Eckels, for at least a couple of weeks every summer. Growing up, she spent entire summers there where she jumped off rope swings into the frigid Maine waters; participated in summer theatre; danced to live bands; played tennis; ate lots of lobster; and watched helplessly at least twice as fire whipped through the dry island pines and claimed the homes of many of her friends, while her father and the other neighbors tried in vain to save them with the island’s short water supply.
Thankfully, there’s not much to do on the island. There are world-class tennis courts; a sports field; a library; and a place to buy a grilled cheese sandwich on white bread and an Arnold Palmer (iced tea/lemonade combo). The island forces you to stop and take note of your surroundings and then delve into that book you’ve put off reading.