Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chapter 1

The winds were gone. They came in October and stayed until they went somewhere else in April. The wind could have been blowing all over the Gulf of Maine or the northern hemisphere, or just off the shore and only tormenting those on the island, the big wind face hanging off to the northwest all winter.

The winds were replaced by green. Over the course of a week the great climatic dimmer switch faded the gray brown into the kind of bright light green promised by Easter Bunnies and yellow hatchlings.

The ledges and islets were granite one week and emerald scarved the next. The horizon was perfect geometric abstraction after being crinkled by temperature and light distortion all winter. The ocean was flat, blue, inviting.

Yards with rows of lobster traps frozen into the ground and grass stubble reaching out of the ice now had crews mending gear, painting buoys, listening to the radio, talking trash.

Lights were on at night up and down the island and around the harbor.

Fourwheelers raced the dirt road. The some-years detour on Carrie’s Hill where the road turns to truck eating mud pot was a go this year.

Recreational gunfire popped off on the south end in the afternoons.

A truck carcass was pulled from its cocoon off the side of the road, leaving a brown socket that would vanish in a month when every growing thing went rampant. The truck was towed down the road, around Carrie’s mud pot and toward the harbor for loading onto the ferry.

Loading entailed pushing, pulling, bashing, smoking tires, scronking metal, whatever was necessary to get the vehicle onto the boat and off the island. At one point when there wasn’t enough side of the road, yard space, room at the quarry or other dumping grounds, there were something like 125 vehicles heaped onto a barge and hauled to the mainland.

He could have taken the plane out and had a 12 minute ride instead of 2 hours and 15 minutes on the steel and diesel ferry. The first real ferry of the year was rolling gently and topped off with lumber trucks, summer vehicles with furniture, groceries, kayaks and other toys and a new crop of “new” island vehicles destined for short tenures in motion and long dormancy in their own cocoons. What seemed a good deal on the mainland was usually well into its second hundred thousand miles. A couple of hundred- or dozen- island miles would do it in.

Coming around Northeast or No-theast Point was a better sight than it was when Patrick and his family had moved here fifteen years earlier. The green on land and blue of a gentle ocean welcomed him back. That day fifteen years ago had been all shades of aluminum and brown-green-almost-black.

Patrick walked off the ferry with his one bag.

“Well!” What is this?!”
“Hello Art.”
“Hello. What’re you up to?”
“Just coming to check on the place now that the last batch of em is out of there.”
”Yeah, I don’t think they were much trouble. Christ, they weren’t here much after the first month or so last fall. They came and got their shit a couple weeks ago and that was the first I’d seen of them for a long time.”
“What’s new and different here?”
“Not a fuckin thing. Stop by later.”
“Oh, definitely.”

The house looked no different. The tenants did a decent job of clearing out. He walked through each room, the chill and emptiness and echo keeping him safe from actually being touched.

He walked into his favorite upstairs room. There was no southern exposure or vista, but a handsome horse chestnut tree brushed the windows and allowed in a bit of the open northern light peculiar to the island. He turned and faced down the upstairs hall. Then he could hear the pain and anger. Patrick would definitely need to stop in at Puff and Quaff Lane later.

Some of the islanders had fun when the state implemented the new E-911 address system. Puff and Quaff lane was one such location.

In the back yard, the apple trees were budding. “Too late to prune ‘em now” he said to no one.

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