My family has a hundred-year-old cottage on Orr’s Island. It sits on a slight rise surrounded by woods and looks out at Ragged Island and the open ocean. Every day on Orr’s Island is a gift. It begins with sunrise on the ocean lighting up the sky and clouds with ever-changing colors. I love to sit on the deck with my cup of coffee watching the day begin. In early summer eider duck nursery swims by with the downy ducklings carefully guarded by the mothers. It is sad to note that their number declines as the summer progresses and predators are successful in outwitting the vigilant mother ducks.
As I cook meals I am grateful for the opportunity to see the same birds and small animals live their busy lives in the woods outside my kitchen window. I am particularly fond of a fish crow that slowly walks down our dirt driveway most afternoons cocking his head to the right and left as he surveys the property. The other crows are always vigilant to announce any possibility of food appearing in my compost pile. Their favorite foods are corn cobs and watermelon rinds. A very cheeky red squirrel obviously uses the deck when we aren’t there. He starts to cross the deck and then stops when he sees me sitting in a chair. Depending on the day he may chance crossing in front of me or decide to take another route.
I fell in love with the island’s beauty, but in truth the people are just as wonderful. I first met my eighty-year-old neighbor as he carried a pot of fish chowder through the woods to welcome us to the neighborhood. The neighbor on the other side invited us down to see the whale from her deck. Although I thought she was probably batty, I was polite and said we would come down after lunch. Imagine my surprise and delight when a humpback whale breached right in front of us as we sat on her deck. Its visit to Lowell Cove that summer became a sensation and the subject of a children’s book.
I have four grandsons who love to visit the island. Fishing with Grandpa on his boat is equaled only by driving the boat. I do have one serious four-year-old grandson, however, who, when asked if he would like to drive the boat, replied, “No, I can’t. I don’t know where we’re going and I don’t have a map.” One of our grandsons’ favorite destinations is a small uninhabited island where we spend an entire day exploring tide pools, swimming, paddling a “log canoe ” that we found on the beach, collecting shells and rocks, and building driftwood and rock forts. All of their special collections are proudly displayed on the deck rails of the cottage. Amazing pieces of mica, quartz, graphic granite, oyster shells, crab shells, you-name-it, we’ve found it and plan to keep it, despite what their mothers say.
A visitor from New York City asked what we were going to do one evening this summer. We answered by turning off the lights and watching the full moon rise over the ocean turning the waves into bright, sparkling, magical stars. We then walked up the hill to see the outdoor movie our neighbors show on a sheet hung on their shed every Friday night. Who could improve on such an evening?
For these reasons and many more too numerous to recount, I am deeply thankful for Maine and its wonderful people.
—Kathy Remmel, NRCM board member
Ernest Wright says
What a wonderful and articulate reflection of thanks for the special state of Maine. I’m a Virginian born and raised, but vacations with my wife and two sons to Maine the last 7 years have provided me such enduring memories of your state. Its unique in so many special ways, as you know…I’m just thankful I’ve been able to experience it with my family. Enjoy the time with your grandkids along your bit of Maine’s coast.
Kathy Remmel says
Thank you for your kind words. I loved your blog post describing the camping trip that you and your son took last fall. Maine is fortunate to have such supporters of our wild spaces. The Percival Baxter quote about preserving Mount Katahdin that ended your blog I found very moving and reminded me why the proposed National Park initiative is so important. “Man is born to die, his works are short-lived, buildings crumble, monuments decay, wealth vanishes, but Katahdin in all its glory, forever shall remain the Mountain of the people of Maine.”
My family and I enjoyed this very much. Thanks to Ms. Remmel for this. Happy Thanksgiving!
Kathy Remmel says
I am delighted that you and your family enjoyed reading about Orr’s Island. My grandsons have so many stories they would like me to tell about our adventures and photos they would like me to share, I may be back!
Patty Hager says
Thanks for transporting us to such a wonderful place. I especially enjoyed meeting your grandkids and the bird and critter residents. They must like watching you!
Kathy Remmel says
Thanks, Patty. It is a wonderful place. I hope that you will come visit me on the island. Speaking of the animals watching me, you can only imagine how alert the the fish crows are to any movement of mine toward the compost pile 🙂