I am all about the feel of a place. The energy. Or whatever I call the spiritual song and dance of souls or faded footsteps of those who came before me. I know there’s a pull to this shore like the breath of the tide in and out. If not quite a sense of homecoming, there’s for certain a feeling of belonging. Of welcome. You can feel Star Island greet you before your boat even docks.
Being on Star Island just plain feels good.
Known collectively as the Isles of Shoals, Star Island and its neighbors form an archipelago of nine islands scattered along the New Hampshire and Maine border in the Atlantic’s Gulf of Maine. While not the largest, 43-acre Star Island is likely the busiest with a full summer schedule of conferences, workshops, and retreats to enjoy for long-term visitors as well as day-trippers like me out to escape life’s present tense for an hour or two in the past.
There’s the beauty of the island, of course, with its simple, white-washed buildings gazing out beyond the rocky shoreline in contrast to the deep blue of the sky and sea. There’s the history. The Oceanic Hotel. Explorer John Smith. The Gosport fishing village. Shoals poet and writer Celia Thaxter. There’s legend. Lore. Mystery. Celebration. And endless inspiration.
There’s even ritual. At each day’s end, a procession of candle-bearing guests walk the path to the Stone Chapel for evening services where no doubt blessings are counted like stars in the deepening darkness of the sky. In a farewell ritual, folks gather at the dock to send off those departing the island and rhythmically remind: “You will come back! You will come back!” In reply, a promise from the boat’s topside: “I will come back! I will come back!”
For all its social activity, there’s solitude too. Waves to contemplate. Rocks to climb. Kites to fly. Flocks of birds to watch. There’s a sense that you’re standing still with time. On solid ground. Breathing easily and deeply.
There’s peace to be found out there on Star Island. And a certain serenity. Only six miles out to sea and an hour-long boat ride away.
I’m sitting smack dab in the middle of my comfort zone: summer.
I’m living like I mean it. I’m a shell gatherer. A flower picker. A storm cloud watcher. I’m a bird listener. A porch sitter. Healthier. Happier. Whole.
Around the house, I putter at this and dabble at that. No pressure. Not many have-tos. I make my bed every morning and tumble back into it at night, satisfied. My blood pressure’s down, and my hope’s up. And yes, I have sorrows. But blessings too. So many blessings.
I thrive in summer. All steam heat and sultry days. Plenty of time and lots of the very best things to eat, see, and experience. In essence, I’m living all summer has to offer. Just picked fruits and vegetables. Digging my feet in the sand. Estimating the time I have on the hard sand before the tide rises. Endless and awe-filled gazing at our grand daughter.
A day to experiment or go for the sure thing. Maybe try a first-time recipe or mix up something tried and true. Measure or estimate. Who cares? Why worry? Stack the dishes and let them air dry. Give the whole kitchen a lick and promise because tomorrow’s gonna be a great day too.
It’s a day for curiosity. Maybe I’ll open a new book or page through an old one. It’s a day to live astonished. Or curious. Delighted. Or Daring. It’s a day for supposing. For wonder. A day to ask a question and then find an answer. To take a chance. Stand up. Speak out. Share.
Today’s a great day.
It’s a day for movement. For walking. Climbing. Biking. Waving. Smiling. Swimming. Dancing. Singing. A day for leaping before looking. For whistling. And blowing bubbles.
It’s a great day. A day for wishing on dandelions and stars and birthday candles. A day for hoping against hope. For dreaming. And today’s a day for giving. My time. Attention. Eye-contact. Forgiveness. An invitation. A compliment. Some just-baked cookies. A donation. My thanks.
Today’s a great day to listen. Birds and breezes. Kids in the pool. Conversations in the car. The solid th-wack of a satisfying backhand.
It’s a day for work. I write. Plan. Clean. Think.
Or why not rest? Read. Rock. Day-dream. Breathe.
Today’s a beautiful day for beginnings. For beauty. For kindness. It’s a fine day for chasing rainbows and believing in miracles.
Could be it’s situational and driven by circumstances outside of my ordinary day to day. Might be an old wound recently reopened. A good intention gone somehow wrong. Or maybe what I hoped for … dreamed about … counted the days until … somehow didn’t develop at all as planned.
Usually, I weep a bit. Slow, seeping tears. The kind that well up until the surface tension breaks, and they spill in a slow slide down my cheeks. Or maybe I turn away. Block the feeling. Avert my gaze. Deny it space or room to breathe inside me. I’m quiet. A little lacking in purpose. Adrift. Not much able to find comfort in almost any of the usual places.
I’m not sure what difference dawned in me today, but for today … I just want to feel the hard. Feel it all. The whole of it. Sit with it. Loll about in it. Inhale and exhale. Live through it and in it and on it and under it … until it’s over.
That’s what hope’s about, after all. The certainty, faith, and knowledge life’s circle will eventually take a turn toward better.
Because sometimes life’s hard.
And I want to live it all, learn it all, and love it all.