The first time I went to Monhegan Island, in Maine, was as a summer camp counselor at Camp Med-O-Lark in Washington, Maine. It was about 1967. The camp took a day trip to the island and I was taken with it’s remoteness and quaintness. It has really changed little since then. I have visited the island about 2o times since then with various family members or alone. What is the attraction?
Its about an hour off the coast from Port Clyde, Maine. You take a smallish mail/supply boat to the Island. Monhegan Island has been an artists colony for probably 100 years, with the Wyeths and many other American artists spending time there.
There are no autos on the island, just a couple of small pickup trucks to move things around the island. Lobstering is the livelihood of many of the year ’round residents.
There are several hotels and bed and breakfasts, varying from comfortable, to modest to rustic. Also many cottages to rent. There are many artist studios and a few restaurants.
The island is about 1.5 miles long, the side facing the East is made up of 200 foot rock cliffs, and the island slopes westward from there to a small harbor. Across the harbor is uninhabited Manama island which you can visit. Hiking trails go all along the Eastern cliffs and through a pine forest in the northern portion of the island.
Day trippers come from the mainland but leave on the 4:00 boat. That is when the island becomes quieter and quite peaceful.
You know, when I took my kids there, I thought they would hate the quiet, no tv in the rooms at the Monhegan House where we stayed. But they loved it, I let them pretty much run free, where could they go? It’s an Island!!
Many of the people who stay overnite for days or weeks are artists and/or musicians which makes for fun discussions.
I was there in October once, and a lot of birders flock there to see the migrating species stop over. In the summer the island is a migratory stop for monarch butterflies.
I was there for the Perseids meteor shower on August 12 and being out there with little or no artificial lighting made the meteors appear like slowly drawn chalk streaks in the sky.
I can’t say enough about this little island. It is really still a rustic, quaint place. Well they now have an ATM. Cell phone service is okay too.
Not surprisingly, I wrote many poems while on the island or afterwards, some are below. Go there sometime if you have not…
LAZY AS A SEED
It seems so lazy
To watch knots gnarl in the trees
And shadows flutter in the leaves
And on the mottled trunks,
To travel to an isle remote
Just to be one of few folk
Who hear the ocean’s growl,
Smell its breath, see it pounce,
To sit up late and watch the sky
Until it is so deeply dark
That I can see shooting stars
Drop cosmic dust in sweeping arcs.
Sometimes I’m lazy as a seed
Drifting up upon a breeze,
To see how hot the sun can get
Then settling in some shade
To let the dirt just cover me,
And nestle down, I’m just a seed,
Within the dirt, damp and sweet,
Little old and lazy me.
Sky blue trim and door
Embrace the wooden floor,
Lace flutters out and in
To flirt with waves
That cross the harbor with the wind.
Seasons sail in off the sea
Adorned with sunlit crystal charms
As drunk-like seabirds wheel and plunder
Fishing men on foaming farms.
Grey and grainy houses,
A lighthouse for the storming,
Surround this scene so tidily
While sea and sun splash on across
My bobbing bow this morning.
Autumn rain splashing on the sidewalk
Reminds me of muddy puddles
On the road of high-stacked lobster traps.
Sounds of leaves rattling on old oaks
Are chased away
By whispers of Cathedral Woods.
Within the whirlwind of working, rushing,
Chatter and distress,
A steaming lobster teases out
Remembered sea smells of Lobster Cove,
SOUNDS AND SMELLS
Trucks, weed-whackers, lawn-mowers
Are what I hear
On this island with no real roads
And acres of wild sanctuary.
Machine excretion nauseates
As the sound of metallic bees