Tag Archives: winter

I love/hate writing!

I spent the day today writing my upcoming column for the WorkingWaterfront. Whether I have an idea in mind or I’m staring blankly at the computer screen, it always takes me all day to finish the job. I just can’t sit still and write for any length of time. I get up and eat something, I play a few games of Text Twist, I check my e-mail, check Facebook, read blogs. It’s as if I really hate writing. Until I’m done. Then I read my column aloud to Bruce to hear what I need to do for my final edit, and then presto-chango, it’s off to my editor. Two weeks later, when the paper comes out, I think, “What was that all about? I really like to write!”

There you go. A love/hate relationship for sure. When I sent the column tonight, before dinner, my next thought (or dread) was that I needed to post something on my blog. That post a day commitment thing really does help me make friends with writing…eventually…  For tonight I’m going to post something I wrote 2 years (20 columns) ago. A little piece about the 5 island township where I live.

The ABC’s of a Cranberry Winter

At the height of the busy summer season, there are hundreds of daily visitors to the Cranberry Isles, along with hundreds more who own or rent houses to stay for their favorite vacation of the year.  We are inundated with faces we don’t know, and frazzled by trying to catch up with all of the people we do know because they are only here for a week or two. In the midst of this frenzy, islanders are often asked,  “What do you do during…” or “what is it like in…” or “how do you get through the winter out there?” In July and August, this is the last thing on our minds, but the questions about winter are legitimate. Lest we be caught actually voicing a snarky remark, here is an alphabet of choices for next summer’s response:

Always have a plan B. High winds can cause the ferry to be canceled resulting in islanders stranded off the island, or workers on the island, and appointments to require rescheduling.

Badminton, bread baking, keeping a bird list, and butt-walk racing!

Cadillac Water Taxi provides the first winter taxi service to the islands. It is especially great for times when you can’t catch the last Beal and Bunker ferry at 3:30 p.m.  Cranberry General Store, where people congregate to catch up on the latest island news, and church services on each island.

Duck stamps and Dip of the Month Club. Rick Alley is working on a painting of harlequin ducks for this year’s duck stamp competition, and 5 members of the club will brave ocean dips for three months of water temperatures in the high 30’s.

Eat! (What else? Isn’t this universal in winter?) Eileen Richards, a friendly face  at the Cranberry Post Office. Etsy.com, a commerce Web site used by some island crafters. Electricity, yes we do have it out here.

Flexibility (see A), food, friends, and Facebook.

Generators for when the power goes out. If the outage lasts for more than a day, some generous people will actually drive around with their generators in a truck to provide a few hours of power for those who don’t have them. Gratitude for a slower pace of life at this time of year.

Henry Isaacs has been plein air painting in the snow. Hilarity. So many things are just a bit funnier at this time of year. High definition TV.

Ice is prevalent in the gravel pits for skating, on windshields for scraping, (only a handful of people between the two islands actually have a garage) and on the float at the Fisherman’s Co-op where it has to be pounded off to get to the lobsters in the crates below. Islesford School, a center of activity for grades K through 8.

Joy Sprague, a welcoming presence at the Islesford Post Office.

King cake. A New Orleans tradition for Epiphany, recently served at a pot luck dinner on Islesford. The one who gets the baby in their piece of cake will have good fortune for the rest of the year.

Libraries. Thanks to the hard work of our librarians Ruth Westphal and Cindy Thomas, the libraries on Great Cranberry and Islesford are consistently in the top ten for per capita circulation in the state of Maine. Always plenty of new books.

Meetings. Fire meetings, Selectmen’s meetings, meetings of the minds. Movies, and the time to watch them.

Netflix. Movie rentals and returns without leaving the island. The red Netflix envelopes are a daily sight at the island post offices. New recipes and time to try them.

Olympics. Many of us will be watching the Winter Games in February. (Oops. I guess the Winter Olympics date this piece!)

Poetry workshop with Rick Benjamin on Islesford in January. Potluck suppers. Painting lobster buoys.


Reading. Lots of reading.

Shrimp season. Weekly shrimp purchases are a delicious way to support a local winter industry. Snowplows. Thanks to Blair Colby and Cory Alley, our island roads are usually plowed and sanded before those on the mainland. There is never a snow day at the Islesford School. The only cancellations are caused by power outages.

Travel. Many of us have more time for it at this time of year. Islanders have been all over the world, and run into each other there!

Upstairs at the Islesford Neighborhood House. The only room that really heats well there in the winter. It is where Town Meeting will take place this year in March.

Varnishing boats at the boatyards on Great Cranberry.

Warrant for Town Meeting and the Annual Report get their final touches before going to the printer. Our award winning town publication looks back on 2011 with photographs and reports from all town officials, and looks forward with the school and town budgets for 2012. Walking.

X-country skiing. A great way to get around the islands after a snowfall.

Yahtzee. People tend to play more games in the winter.

Zeroing in on all the things we put off until there is time in the winter to do them; including Zzzzzzz…lots of naps!


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A scene unseen so far this year


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Bizarre winter ritual on mailboat ride

Just before sunset, on the shortest day of the year,

and after he had punched all the tickets and collected all the fares,

Paul Hewes grabbed hold of the sun…

….and ATE it!

Happy Solstice!


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Winter doldrums

This is my antidote. I use my summer sunscreen as a moisturizer, and throughout the day whenever I catch a whiff, I think of warm sun and summer. It’s a little head game that works 99% of the time. Sometimes, on a winter mail boat ride to the mainland, I will get asked, “Barb, are you wearing your Coppertone today?” It’s nice to know there are a few people who count on me for my quirks.

This has been one hell of a snowy winter so far, and we have not even had to deal with half the snow that people in other states have seen.  It’s pretty and somewhat novel considering we had about 2 snowstorms last winter and they were both in December of  ’09.

Bruce and I worked on getting tax figures together this morning, I took some photos when we walked before lunch, worked on my own tax stuff this afternoon and then had a massage. It sounds pretty ideal doesn’t it? But, this was one of those 1% days, when the Coppertone seemed to have no effect. No matter what I did I could not stop the downhill slide of my mood. I know what caused it and I am embarrassed to admit it. When I looked at my gross income from jewelry sales, and factored in all my expenses from supplies, periodicals, books, shipping, in-kind donations to non-profits, a conference at Purdue, and a workshop in Vermont, I had my lowest net income in many years. The two numbers were almost even. Thank god we are not relying on this to run our household right now. Bruce is not so worried since we file a joint return and he is happy to have me share my many expenses and low income as a counterbalance to his good year of catching lobsters. But my self confidence was trashed by a stupid number, and all I could think was that I sucked as an artist. The massage felt great, of course, but I was so low I think I allowed it to spread the toxin of self doubt throughout my body in a nice even layer.

Sometimes the only thing to do for a mood like this is to post a few snowy photos and go to bed. Tomorrow is a whole new day and I am spending it off the island. (I’d rather stay home, so that projection is not helping my mood either.) Yikes. I better stop this before my friend Susan tells me it’s time to call in the “Whaaaaambulance.” (whaa whaa whaa.)  It’s a fine line between self pity and feeling like a turd; both optional and totally unproductive. It’s time to suck it up and reapply the sunscreen.


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